Two Parables

A little over two years ago, a good friend told me two stories that have since had a dramatic impact on my life. It’s about time I shared them.


On the first day of class, a pottery teacher split everyone into two groups.

To the first group, she said they’d have the entire semester to build a single pot. They could use the time to research, design, or build, but their grade would be based entirely on this one pot, and they could not make more.

To the other group, she said they were to build a new pot every day, and destroy the previous day’s. Their grade, instead, would be based on the pot built the last day.

Naturally, the latter group built better pots. They were able to experiment, iterate, and learn from their mistakes. The first group instead was stuck fixing their mistakes, or, worse, not trying anything special in fear of it not working.


Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, a prince was to be wed.

The town baker was famous for making the best cupcakes in all the land. So naturally, the king approached the baker and requested he make a wedding cake for his son’s wedding.

Ecstatic, the baker agreed, and set to make the best wedding cake anyone had ever tasted.

And he couldn’t: his cakes kept toppling over, having no structure to support the top layers; the inside was always undercooked while the outside was too dry; he couldn’t evenly mix the frosting.


Perhaps there’s a middle ground for each story. Perhaps the pottery class should’ve been able to spend more than a single day on each pot, allowing for greater detail, or larger pots; perhaps the baker shouldn’t have limited himself to cupcakes alone, and he could’ve understood how to invest in foundation and support.

Or perhaps the potters never need more complex pots, and the baker simply prefers making cupcakes.

#philosophy #technology

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