The Limits of Vision

A couple of weeks ago I bought a pair of eyeglasses. They’re called SuperFocus. They’re the geekiest glasses I’ve ever seen. And the best I’ve ever seen through.

Like a lot of people my age, I need different strengths of glasses — for regular reading, computer reading, and road-sign reading. In my case I have yet another focal distance — for refering to my notes while speaking on stage.

My new SuperFocuses (SuperFoci?) handle all these situations, without the distortions of bi- or tri-focals, because I can actually focus them — something like binoculars — from infinity to watch-repair close, with a small slider on top of the bridge.

Sounds weird, but you get used to it pretty quickly. And it works. Your whole field of vision can be in perfect focus, whatever the distance.

I’m so pleased with my new specs that I went to order another pair.

Craig, my optician, started waxing about how great these new glasses were, how many famous (and smart) people owned a pair, and how he (being in good company) used them himself. He likes to talk, so he quickly moved on to his assessment of his suppliers. The SuperFocus people aren’t traditional eyewear manufacturers. They’re entrepreneurs — the new kids on the block. So when Craig offers suggestions for improvement, they usually respond with, That’s an interesting idea. We’ll try it.

On the other hand, when he offers suggestions to the more established manufacturers, they often reply with, That wouldn’t work or That would be too expensive or People don’t want that.

So it turns out that eyeglasses makers are pretty much just like the rest of us. Too often, they limit their vision to what they already know.

The great Danish physicist, philosopher, and poet, Piet Hein, put it like this:

Experts have
their expert fun
ex cathedra
telling one
just how nothing
can be done.

Of course, none of us are immune. We’re all experts (or think we are) on something. How often have you been the expert who turns knowing into “no-ing”?

2 comments to The Limits of Vision

  • Tim, I just had corrective surgery a few days ago so I laughed when your headline showed up today! Your point about looking for another solution and stepping away from the current paradigm is absolutely correct. Great ideas as always.

  • Jeff Berg

    Another great story! A variant on this theme is that if you try something new and it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected, it might still be useful. See the history of the Sony Walkman tape player, first of the portable personal playback devices, which was initially considered a mistake because it had only enough power to play back, not record. Regards, Jeff

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