A few days ago, a family member linked me to a must listen to This American Life, talking with Mike Daisey, author of the show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
EDIT – Daisey apparently falsified a ton of information and This American Life retracted the entire episode.
The core concept is the true cost of our addictive consumer devices, and given that my industry revolves around the iPad, Daiseys’ account of Shenzen struck a particularly powerful note for me.
I’ve been a dedicated Apple fan for decades, and have a general appreciation for well designed products. For a while, I thought this would be my professional path, even taking several years of night courses at Art Center in Pasadena while I toyed with the techniques of sketching out game consoles, portable music players, and cars.
I’ve always prided myself as being a savvy consumer, and strongly desire to own well made, well designed products that last. It took me months of agonizing research to finally pull the trigger on my home theatre system, and I actually enjoy showing these prized possessions to my friends, advising them on how to score a quality piece of equipment that they will enjoy for years.
I’ve known about the concept of planned obsolescence for a long time. However, it is easy to forget that part of engineering almost all modern technology is the built in timed failure intended to not just make you want the next shiny new thing, but to force you to buy it.
I do believe there is room to enjoy our gadgets in a sustainable way. I would love nothing more than to see a return to the maunfacturing base of the United States, restoring the lost sense of pride in “American Made” with a premium price attached to enduring, sustainably produced goods instead of the impulse buy trash cycle we are currently stuck in.
The whole system has been building for some time, starting with collaboration between corporations and Edward Bernays (Nephew to Sigmund Freud) after WW1. If you have the time, I can’t recommend enough the BBC Docu Century of the Self which tells the story in eloquent and alarming detail. Best watched in 1 hour chunks:
I’m on my second HP all in one printer. Bought for 90$, only a bit more than a full set of new ink cartridges.
I just hope some Russian hacker makes reset software for my model, I’ll probably be needing it soon…