Here’s an excellent TED video, which is a new take on a classic: How to Build a Toaster. (Credit: Don Bourdreaux of Cafe Hayek)
Plot: How to build a toaster from scratch if a modern person found himself on a planet inhabited by primitives.
Subplot: The benefits of trade and specialization.
Some of the comments on the TED site ding Thwaites for taking for granted the other tools he used while making his toaster. I also find it suspicious to assume that a 240 volt electric source would be readily available on a primitive planet or that he would have much to toast.
But the video is still eye-opening for its subplot exposes how much we take for granted the special, distributed, evolved and advanced knowledge and coordinated effort that goes into making something as seemingly simple and unremarkable as a cheap toaster and making it available at a local store to pick up at our convenience.
Here’s the first remake of the classic in the video world:
And here’s the original classic: I, Pencil by Leonard Reed