Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I had an argument about these type of services when Instacart showed up, not a well-thought out one, but here goes.

My first thought with these services is always "that's cool!". I'll save time, won't have to bother with some boring task etc, no more inconvenience! Same reaction with Instacart. Then I questioned that reaction. The store where I buy all my food is roughly a 100m away from my apartment, and it takes me roughly 10 minutes to get there, buy food and get back. Yet I still find it inconvenient. And after I get rid of that inconvenience, there will be something else that will start to bother me, a smaller inconvenience than the last one, but still bothersome. So where does it stop? I always think of those kids you see around, whose life has been completely removed of all unpleasantness by their overprotective parents, and who are spoiled/irritating beyond belief. Will we all turn into that?

Expanding on that, we probably won't all turn into that in the near future, because the inconvenience that we'll have removed will be taken care of by another human being, who in turn will take on all the unpleasantness. So there will be a class of people who do all of the "boring" work so the top class can "do what they want". It's already long established in things like house-cleaning, gardening etc. And the argument I get into is, why do "we" get to do what we want, and "they" get to do the work we (and in most cases they) find a waste of time. The counter-argument I get is it's a job, people get paid, and people can make any work enjoyable for themselves, even if it's picking up groceries/laundry for others. And I argue that if they can make any work enjoyable for themselves, why the hell don't we make picking up groceries/laundry enjoyable for ourselves? Or is making a boring task enjoyable again reserved for that other class of people, who don't have the means to avoid it?

This is quite a tangent, and I still think it's a cool idea, we're all working on projects which serve to remove pain-points for people, and abstracted away, you could argue my points for any business in the world.

Still, I'd like a start-up that instead of shifting my inconvenience to other people, removes my feeling of inconvenience itself. Once someone teaches me that, I'll be set for life. Maybe we can revive Marcus Aurelius and give him a few million dollars.




The truth is, there is no inconvenient tasks. The only way to remove inconvenience is to enjoy the things that you do. The only way to do that is to be completely present in the here and now - concentrate on setting one foot in front of the other on the way to the convenience store. Notice the miracles all around you - the plants; the other people; the raindrops; etc.

You don't need anyone to teach you this, you already know. All you need to do is pay attention.

You'll get unhappy if you think of your trip to the grocery store as an unpleasant thing you need to "get over with" so you can do... what exactly? Laze on the couch? Is that your perfect day? All tasks become pleasant when you put your full attention into them. The suffering only occurs when you wish you were doing something else.

I sometimes think what I'd do if I were a billionaire. I'd buy a huge yacht and fill it with models. And lots of property everywhere. But then maybe I'd spend all my time managing my yacht, my properties, and my portfolio. Hold on, that doesn't sound like fun at all. Maybe I'd hire managers for the yacht and the properties... then I'd spend all my time managing the managers. Doesn't sound like fun either.

Maybe I'd sit on a beach and do nothing. But then I could do that right now. Ta.


Your story reminds me of this story. An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor." The American scoffed, "I am a Wharton MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise." The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?" To which the American replied, "15-20 years." "But what then, señor?" The American laughed and said, That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions." "Millions, señor? Then what?" The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."


The part that's left out of the story is what the fisherman does when suddenly the fish aren't biting. Part of becoming wealthy is being financial secure and comfortable in any situation, not just when times are plentiful.



> Still, I'd like a start-up that instead of shifting my inconvenience to other people, removes my feeling of inconvenience itself.

A program that instills resiliency into people (a dual n-back for virtue) would change humanity forever. I could see it happening through future versions of the Oculus Rift.


I think you have good points not far from what I was getting at in my longer comment elsewhere in the thread--that of shifting personal inconveniences from mundane chores onto other humans who are likely making far less than the user of this service, and don't get to benefit from the 'value'.

They still have to go home and do their laundry.

Funding and celebrating startups should evaluate the value that is offered to users and to the people who staff the companies. There's a lot of workers who are going to get the shit end of the value proposition here.


:)

a start-up that instead of shifting my inconvenience to other people, removes my feeling of inconvenience itself

I don't think getting a stoic to do your laundry will have the desired effect. I get what you're saying. But this is a matter of right tool for the right job. Marcus Aurelius for figuring out if you should do your own laundry or use Prim. Laundry services for doing the laundry if Marcus says it needs doing.


You can easily make doing laundry relatively nice experience, just find a nice podcast to listen to. But watching game of thrones or programming something interesting is more fun.

This kind of dynamic is not with hard to beat I think.


Not a 'challenge':

Are you or aren't you describing the whole of non-medical, non-moon landing human technological progress? (Yes, 'progress' is a loaded word, but depending on your perspective, that may be the point.)

Neolithic Rev. onward, it's been specialize, optimize, specialize, optimize. What's Excel do that you can't do with an abacus?


I wouldn't call reinventing the early 20th century progress, at least not positive progress. The service industry is largely the antithesis of a technological utopia.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: