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R - Redundancy
Backups are great.
I’m reminded of this because earlier this week, my car battery died (I had been leaving the electricity on to power my laptop while I was doing some design work… at a trailhead). Luckily, I wasn’t too far away from the rest of civilization, so a stranger came and gave me a jumpstart.
If cars were on proprietary voltages, that wouldn’t be possible.
Imagine if Toyota came out next year and said “we’re going to a 36V battery system for our cars going forwards” (as opposed to the 12V that nearly all cars are). Sure, the higher voltage means more efficiency (and it isn’t too high voltage so as to be unsafe). But the incompatibility with other cars, the need to buy specific batteries, would be an enormous headache. I couldn’t have that serendipity of running into a guy and asking him for a jump.
But Toyota could have a monopoly on 36V car batteries to go with their cars (at least for a little while).
Monopolies breed contempt.
The most convivial technological systems, I notice, are the ones that can be the most easily replaced. The more easily a system can be replaced, the more likely someone will when it isn’t up to snuff. Competition begets betterment.
Make competition easy, we make technology function better.
Furthermore, redundant technology is less liable to being idolized. When something is easily replaced, we recognize it as a means to an end, rather than the end itself. Nobody worships a Corolla; they’re interchangeable. Some might worship a Corvette. Many people idolize F1 cars.
More redundancy, less idolization.
On top of it all, redundancy means that the user of a technology has a further chance to interact with the technological process in a delightful way. Yes, you CAN replace the battery on your ThinkPad. You CAN replace the lightswitch in your house. Go ahead - here’s the documentation, here’s the parts. This is your chance to peer inside the thing and enter into contemplation with it. If the parts were unique and matched, it would require a high priest of the technological caste system to intervene, causing a rift between the technology and the user. (I think this idea of technologists as priests warrants its own article - because it can be done in a healthy way - but today, it usually isn’t.)
Commune with Creation by repair - redundancy makes this more attainable.