Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Procrastination


I’ve always wondered why car companies show off these amazing “concept” cars, which are impractical and too expensive to build, and probably wouldn’t sell anyway. In the end, most new cars are only modifications of previous models, so surely it’s far more efficient to focus their energy on fixing up the current model? The car manufacturers say that it’s to encourage creativity, and thinking out of the box, and that thousands of new ideas on the concept cars get incorporated into production cars. I disagree. I think it’s a natural and necessary form of procrastination.

My final design project was due this week, and, like every project I’ve done since I started primary school, things seemed to drag out until the last minute, regardless of how much work had been put in before the deadline. Perhaps it’s a bit late to realize this now, but I’ve finally worked out why. It’s exactly what drives engineers to develop fancy concept cars. There are aspects of any project that are really boring (like paperwork), and then there are aspects that are enjoyable (like creative design work). It’s only natural that any work that takes place a long time before the deadline will be the more enjoyable work, i.e. the creative design work. That’s why, when engineers are told to come up with the next new model of car, a fair portion of their time goes into stuff that they know will never be used. Rather than waste this time, car companies release the results as “concept” cars, and make it seem deliberate, even though it’s really an unwanted byproduct of the thought process.
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