The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture


Randy Pausch

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The Last Lecture: Chapter 40 Summary & Analysis

Randy believes that engineers and scientists are often terrible at explaining complex tasks in simple ways, and they have the potential to frustrate millions of people because of it. So, Randy tries to illustrate with a visual example the importance of considering the end-users when creating software. The first day of class, Randy puts a VCR on his desk and smashes it to bits with a sledgehammer. He then says that when people “make something hard to use, people get upset. They become so angry that they want to destroy it. We don’t want to create things that people will want to destroy.” Randy says this example sure got the kids’ attention—and that’s always the first step to solving an ignored problem. Randy hopes that, once in a while, his former students in the workforce remember his lesson with the sledgehammer, reminding them of the frustrated masses, yearning for simplicity.
Randy’s lesson with the sledgehammer is, in some ways, reminiscent of Coach Graham denying the football team a water break. Randy uses a grand, unforgettable display to teach his students a lesson he hopes they won’t forget—that software can be immensely frustrating to users. Just as Coach Graham sometimes pops into Randy’s head to urge him to work harder, perhaps this display will turn Randy into a feedback loop in his students’ lives, always urging them to make things more simple.
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