I have a deep appreciation for small enhancements that make things better but don’t ruin the original design if they fail. For example, a ratcheting screwdriver, or a book with a built-in bookmark. These tiny enhancements just make you say “Neat!”

Enter SnapPower socket plates.

SnapPower socket cover

Neat!

It’s literally just a socket plate with 3 LEDs in it and a light sensor. That’s it. It does nothing except replace a plug-in night light. It does exactly one thing, really well, without wasting a socket, or wasting space with a bulky pass-through night light. But when the LEDs eventually burn out it will still be a socket plate. The lost enhancement doesn’t detract from the primary function.

You can still drive screws if the ratchet locks up.

You can still read, and mark your place in, a book if the built-in bookmark breaks.

The problem with these minor enhancements and conveniences is we become dependent on them almost immediately and are very upset if they are unavailable. Take software changes; once I got in-browser document previewing I immediately became miffed any time I had to download a document to view it. A bigger problem is when your view of something’s primary function changes. I no longer think of the SnapPower socket plates as socket plates with lights, they are lights that happen to be attached to socket plates. That means if the enhancement goes away it’s “broken.”

I’m not sure if there is a way around this entitlement attitude. “New” has to become the “new norm” and then the “norm” for progress to continue, but we’d probably all benefit from remembering that cake without icing is still cake.