Too Much Choice!

“Too Much Choice” is Not a Phrase I Use Often. But Three Examples Drive Me Nuts. You?

I Like Choice, A Lot 

 Choice is a great thing. It increases the odds that you will get the product or outcome you seek. Choosing empowers you as a consumer. Choice exercises your mental powers of discretion and of choosing wisely.

Most of us who might read this posting live in a world of abundant choices in most areas of our lives. That is a delightful thing, something to appreciate and celebrate. I love having options and making choices.

Most of the time.

One Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing

 But sometimes, it seems to me, what comes disguised as choice is actually something between clutter and chaos, between marketing excess and wasting our time. Let me cite three examples. You tell me if any of this rings a bell with you, too.


We live in an electronic world. And we can be glad of that. Think how much our lives are enhanced by electricity. And this is even more so because of the portability that batteries provide for our power needs. This blog has been host before to discussions about improvements we all hope are coming soon for batteries.

High on the list would be more power, longer power runs, faster recharging where that is relevant, and reduced environmental impact.

But today, let’s talk about battery diversity. I like diversity in people – a lot. In batteries, not so much. Here is a picture of the batteries I used my daily life.

 Actually, I am missing one I did not have an extra laying around to show you, so its an even dozen different sizes. Sure, some size variation is reasonable, but should a regular person need a dozen different sizes.

Could industry not come up, for example, with one size to replace AAAA – AAA – AA batteries? Do we really need both C and D size batteries?

It seems to me a pain in the neck to stock or seek out so many sizes. I think manufacturers, especially battery manufacturers like having all these varieties out there. I am betting they would sell fewer batteries if we had the option to stock fewer sizes.

 Electrical Connections

 Fortunately, not everything requires batteries. We can just plug in and connect many items, right?  Not so fast, pal.

Here is a collection of most of (not all) my electrical connector  types I need to power up and/or have my electronics connect with each other.

Once again, it is about a dozen different options (requirements) to make connections. Remember when USB was the universal connection? Well, now there are 3 different versions of USB out there, and I have equipment that requires 2 of them.

Plus, Apple, as is its wont, decided none of those would do, so it has its own version, the Lightning Connector. Geez.

And that does not even address the basic plug in the wall power connection. That is usually pretty straight forward in the US, with the occasional mismatch of 2 prong vs 3 prong plugs. But if you travel internationally, you are in for some fun.

I used to do quite a bit of travel on every continent. I had two bags of plug adapters and power converters and still came up short on occasion.

Once, in Libya, I endeavored to reengineer a plug to make it work. I took out the power for half a hotel for some time. Pretty spectacular little flash and smoke show I had going there.

Once again, could the world’s manufacturers and designers not do better than this. Surely we could all get by with half the number of connection options out there.

As you can see from the photo, I have taken to labeling all mine, but it still feels like a treasure hunt on some days.

 Best Of” Articles and Ratings

And lest our friends in the electronics world think I am picking on them, let’s go look at articles, printed and online, that offer to tell you what is the “best of — whatever.”

Now, I appreciate someone looking through the world’s offerings and providing me with their Best Of list, along with explanations of why something made the list.

But I notice of late some ridiculously long lists that are supposedly Best Of.

  • Our 37 best turkey and dressing recipes
  • 50 movies you should see this Winter
  • 29 electric toothbrushes you would like
  • , Etc., Etc.

I’m sorry, but a Best Of list of about anything should be 10 at most – ideally even fewer, as in single digits. When I see a Best Of List that exceeds my fingers and toes, I don’t think I am being offered a Best Of list. I think I am looking at someone’s cut and paste project for an afternoon.

Even if it is a product or service I am interested in, if it is an obviously too long a list, I am not reading the article. Do your homework, Mr. Writer, and actually evaluate this stuff before offering it up. Show us some discretion and discernment on your part.

Enough Already!

What say you, America? Can I hear a cheer for a little decluttering, a little more interoperability, a lot more discipline in selections? I could say more, but the battery on my laptop is warning me it is about to die and I need to find that damn charging cord with the flat little connector doohickey on it. I know its around here somewhere….

                   Bill Clontz  (with his friend Nikola Tesla)

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7 replies to Too Much Choice!

  1. How could you leave out lightbulbs?? I’m glad they last somewhat longer now, because having to buy new ones is outright stressful. I do have one helpful suggestion for you. If you’re looking to buy just about anything except a car, try the New York Times’ Wirecutter product reviews. They generally recommend one “best in category” with perhaps a budget choice and a high end choice to go with. Way less aggravating than wading through Consumer Reports ratings of 50 different items. I’m willing to do that for a new car or major appliance, but not for new luggage.

    • Yes, lightbulbs, of course! Another most excellent example.

      And thanks for sharing the NY Times tip with us all. Glad to know it.

  2. Right on Bill. Even my wine corkscrew has a separate recharging unit. We have a drawer full of them. The only salvation, besides your suggestion to simplify designs, is to label them the day you receive an appliance needing one…a great idea my wife brought to the party.

    • Yes, indeed. Before labelling I had a couple of baskets of mystery components. If nothing else, this gives me an excuse to play with my high speed label maker.

  3. I think there should be a club for those of us who have set fire with plug adapters in foreign countries. I remember my hairdryer that smoked and burned to death in a small hotel in Scotland. It was quite the smelly event. And yes, what a pain it was to carry all those various adaptors when traveling internationally!

    • I like the club idea! Of course, we probably would not be one of those groups that get travel discounts.

  4. Spectacular job friend. It is ridiculous to have to keep all these on hand to make it through the day!

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