On the [linked] idea, there is some discussion about how poorly designed our current (especially North American) electricity
is, and how difficult it would be to change to something better. A possible way to change would be to introduce better
electricity alongside the current stuff, and allow people
to migrate gradually as they replace old equipments with news.
A difficulty with that, though, would be that non-technical people would get confused. For example, if we introduced 500 V
3-phase at 500 Hz, with a different plug from any currently in use, which would have its own alphanumeric designation,
people would just get confused by all of the numbers and letters, and not know what was compatible with what.
If, instead, we gave standardized funny names to the different electrical specifications and corresponding plugs/sockets, this
would be alleviated. (We already have names like "normal plug" and "dryer plug", but those aren't specific enough or
memorable enough to be very useful except to people who discuss them regularly, and they're not standardized.)
We would probably have different plugs for different current ratings at the same voltage/frequency/phasing, just like we do
currently. These plugs would have different names from each other, but they would still be more closely related to each other
than to other plugs.
From these and other relationships, we could create, and teach in school, a family tree of plugs, using said standardized
funny names. Each one could have a funny face, too, for additional memorability. The funny faces could even be Chernoff
faces [link] that encode the specifications using things like eye gaze direction, facial expression, and hairstyle.
For even better learning, each plug and outlet would have its name and face embossed on it. (For this reason as well as
because colorblind people exist, I'd avoid using skin color or any other color code as a part of this system.) Appliance boxes
would have the plug's name and face, as well as a diagram of the plug itself, next to the other specifications such as the
Energy Star ratings.
Then, when someone wanted to buy a new kettle capable of boiling 4 litres of water in 15 seconds flat, they'd just go to the
store and it would go like this (placeholder names only, not real proposals):
Customer: "I want a really fast kettle. My current one uses a Pomple plug and it's really slow."
Employee: "We have this one that'll boil 4 litres in 15 seconds."
Customer: "Awesome! Will it work at my house?"
Employee: "It has a Winik plug."
Customer: "Great! I have a Winik outlet in my kitchen. I won't even need to unplug my toaster, because that's plugged into the
At no point do the actual specifications of Winik service (e.g. 2 kV, 50 A) or the actual electrical requirements of the kettle
need to be discussed.
(More likely, this conversation would take place entirely in the customer's mind, as they look at the box, but it's easier to
write with two people.)