1958 essay by Leonard Read written from the first person perspective of a pencil describing its own creation
from Ward Cunningham
Read describes a supply chain of modest Economic Complexity. They are primarily "extractive". Forresters remove trees. Miners minerals, and so forth. The machinery that mills the pencil has its own supply chain and its expense reflects engineers and machinists earning their salaries.
This is the title of a blog post by Waldo Jaquith in which he discusses how the differences in when various produce is in season and livestock slaughtering schedules mean that the cheeseburger, which most people think of as a simple food item, in fact is only practical in what he calls a "post-agrarian society" where foods can be both transported long distances and preserved with relative ease.
The point of this, pretty obviously, is that many things in modern daily life require large complex (as in interrelated) systems of production and transport to exist, and most of us are completely oblivious to it.
A similar notion of the complexity behind ordinary objects is found in I, Pencil and in the first episode of Connections, by James Burke, "The Trigger Effect"
> And so the beginning of the development of the QWERTY keyboard began. The design was not dictated by a sales department, or the limitations of the mechanics of the first typewriters. Instead, the design of the QWERTY keyboard was designed for Morse code, with significant regard given to putting the most frequently used letters on the home row.
The Morse code used in 19th century America was not the Morse code we know today. American Morse code is subtly different from the International Morse used today. American Morse encoded the letter ‘Y’ as (·· ··); two dits, a space, and two dits. ‘Z’ is encoded as (··· ·), and was commonly confused with ‘SE’, especially when appearing as the first letters of a word. Therefore, the ‘S’, ‘E’, and ‘Z’ keys should be close together. For the same reason, C – in Morse, (·· ·) – should be placed near both ‘S’, ‘I’, and ‘E’. There is a reason we don’t use American Morse anymore.
These efforts culminated in the typewriter that would grace the cover of the August 10, 1872 cover of Scientific American. For the first time, something resembling the modern QWERTY layout was available. It wasn’t perfect – ‘M’ wasn’t next to ‘N’, ‘C’ and ‘X’ were swapped. Characters, numerals, and punctuation were all over the keyboard, but this was what suited the telegraphers and became the basis of the first commercially successful typewriters. (Source)