I have a fantasy that Stonehenge is all that remains today of an electronic civilisation. The rest is lost.
Half of all my life’s work is lost on obsolete technology – on three forms of tape recording, Deskmate word processing, Amiga animation, floppies, Betacam, microfiche, and old editions of modern programs. All that remains of it is what I put on that old, old, technology, paper. Today I want to put tape recordings of irreplaceable oral history onto CDs or DVDs, but I cannot find the technology to do so. And today school libraries are throwing out books and relying on electronic technology!
Putting everything into paper archives is unsatisfactory unless we have a means of finding the material again. State Library is reported to have tunnels reaching to Werribee. There is much dross.
We need the equivalent of a Rosetta stone for modern knowledge and culture.
Planned obsolescence in electronic technology makes the situation worse. What is good is thrown out as well as what is passé.
Planned Obsolescence and Climate Changes
Too many products these days are created and bought with the expectation that they'll soon be replaced. The consequences are serious.
'Sometime very soon, we need to start talking about an economy that improves quality of life while reducing the quantity of material resources it devours and excretes. That time is now.
My lovely daughter gave me an expensive Olympus digital camera in 2003. I enjoyed using it occasionally. Now, less than four years later, it must be thrown away plus its box of bits and brochures because the camera's memory card is obsolete. So says the Olympus shop, charging $60 for cleaning the camera before telling us the card cannot be replaced: 'Try ringing around shops or eBay,’ they said.
We live in an era of planned obsolescence. Planned obsolescence is a decision on the part of a manufacturer to design products to become unusable quickly. This stimulates marketplace demand because customers must buy again, sooner than they would if the product lasted longer. It happens with cars, light bulbs, software, clothing and buildings.
Our GDP figures prove that this works. There is growth in the economy when people are forced to keep buying replacements. But it is false growth in view of its environmental consequences, and it is false economics because it diverts customer buying power from more sustainable ways of improving our quality of life.
Planned obsolescence increases pollution and environmentally damaging emissions through the production of goods that would not otherwise need to be created. It exacerbates the problems of landfill and waste disposal, because most obsolescing products are not designed to be recyclable. It also wastes materials and workers' lives that could be spent more profitably and more usefully.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
6 posts so far.