Are you inventing the better mousetrap?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from Jack Hitt.

I started reading the New York Times on my iPhone a few months ago. I love it!  It’s relatively inexpensive ($3.75/week). It doesn’t require any newsprint. It doesn’t get my hands messy. And it’s always available in my purse.

It not only allows me to keep abreast of current news it also brings me some very fine pieces of writing. One such piece I read recently carried the headline: First Invent The Gadget. Then Take it to Hollywood. (I’ve hotlinked it so you can read it, too.)

In telling the story or inventor Mike Cram (the Homer Simpson beer opener was his brainchild), the article reflected on many inventions. Here is where writer Jack Hitt, started laying down his metaphors:

It’s well known that the taxonomy of invention splits into two grand phyla: practical and novelty. In other words, are you inventing the better mousetrap or the pet rock? Are you Thomas Edison with his light bulb, or Soren Sorenson Adams and his joy buzzer? 

I particularly liked the way Hitt used the grandly obscure word phyla, (plural of  phylum), known to grade 10 science students everywhere from the taxonomic list: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. I also appreciated the way he worked a mousetrap and a pet rock into the same sentence.

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