It’s really easy to posit a conspiracy. All you need is a problem, and a clear beneficiary to the problem not being solved. Let me demonstrate:
I stay in a lot of hotels (one of the dubious benefits of what I do). And, you’ll be pleased to hear, I take showers. You don’t want to bring liquids so the hotels are kind enough to provide shampoo and conditioner. The final piece of the setup is that we all get older (if we’re lucky), and that means decreasing manual dexterity and visual acuity.
Which brings up the problem of hair care products in small bottles, with smooth caps. You get into the shower, and you can’t open the bottles with wet hands. If you’ve read Don Norman’s Design of Everyday Things (and if you design for people, you should; it’s an easy read, and you won’t look at the world in the same way), you know that you could redesign the bottle caps to facilitate opening with wet hands (ridges, non-symmetrical shapes, etc). But they don’t. So, you use your teeth (unless you happened to loosen the cap before you get in the shower, very unlikely unless you do this alot).
Who benefits? Dentists! You ruin your teeth opening the bottle, and have to see the dentist. So clearly they’re sponsoring this ongoing assault.
And it continues. Who is responsible for bad computer interfaces? 3M, the maker of post-its. The only cure for a bad interface is to put up a post-it note with the way around the problem. I’m sure they’re sponsoring companies to continue to come up with bad interfaces.
The one I can’t figure out is back to the hair-care bottles. They make the print small, and the contents indistinguishable, so you can’t figure out which one you need to use. It’d be easy, making the shampoo clear and the conditioner opaque, using large print. So, all I need to do is figure out who benefits…
So it goes. (RIP Kurt Vonnegut)