Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Ever notice that things don't last as long as they used to? It's a concept called "Planned Obsolescence" which was promoted in the 1950's by Brooks Stevens. Where does our stuff come from? Where does it go?

Check out this awesome video; it's only 20 minutes long. There is some great info included on planned obsolescence and sustainability.

It's really thought provoking when you think about the ever bigger and badder computers that are marketed to us. They try to sell us the latest and "greatest" versions of Windows and Office 200x, which of course require a new computer to run them. It makes me truly realize the benefits of Open Source software and computer reuse.


Lion Kimbro said...

I thought that the part about computers was one of the weaker parts of the (otherwise awesome) presentation.

The reason computers get better and better is because people keep coming up with dramatically better ways of storing data and making chips, not due to planned obsolescence (which is, otherwise, a very real phenomenon.)

When your water tank only lasts for 12 years, that's planned obsolescence: People know how to make water tanks that last for far longer, and just don't.

But when computers are made that work two times as fast in a year and a half, that's not planned obsolescence -- that's just people figuring things out.

Similarly, growing boys and girls aren't involved in a conspiracy to make their parents buy more clothes for them, by getting bigger.

Dave said...

I tend to agree on the computer front but only as far as hardware goes. I've seen lots of hardware tossed, just because it is old. It works fine, but it will not running the latest, bloated OS. It will, however, run some of the lean Linux distros, and I am encourages to see lots of reuse here. Of course disposing this stuff creates a whole new series of problems. "The Digital Dump" documentary film delves into this.