Every lamp in a hotel room will have an on/off switch that’s different than the others. It’s a kind of intelligence test — my hand instinctively reaches under the shade for the switch, only to find that it’s on the base, or I’ll paw the entire lamp to discover that the switch is 6 inches down the power cord. Etc. In other words, I am constantly failing some kind of cosmic intelligence test.

In the room I’m in right now, there is:

– a table lamp with a switch on the base that you push in

– a floor lamp with a switch on the floor that you step on

– a table lamp with a switch on the base that you push in multiple times, depending on the intensity of light you want

This is not to mention the lamps spotted previously where you push the switch through the trunk to the other side, or the lamps where you twist clockwise up to 3 times for varying degrees of brightness, or twist once (with no degrees), or the lamps whose on/off switches are on their power cords (requiring either a click or a circular rotation of a wheel or a slow slide). Or the lamps controlled by a wall switch 12 feet across the room.

Could we bring all the world’s lamp experts together, lock them in a room, and force them to make a decision? It’s as though in every car you drove your first mission was to hunt around the interior for the ignition.

Or maybe this lamp diversity is something worth treasuring — a sign of the many forms that human ingenuity can take.

But probably it’s not. So someone call Don Norman.

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