Made to Break?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Why is it prohibited? asked the savage…
The controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it is old, that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here.”
“Even when they are beautiful?”
“Particularly when they are beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people attracted by old things. We want them to like new ones.”

Giles Slade quotes Aldous Huxley from Brave New World’s brilliant attack on consumerism, in Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, about the design and marketing of goods so as to encourage their replacement. It’s not that the actual items break, of course sometimes they do, but it’s about creating something newer and better that people want to replace their supposedly now-obsolete item.

What do you think about “planned obsolescence”? What technology item “wasn’t good enough” faster than you expected? What’s been sticking around much longer than you expected?

It happened when GM introduced “model years” for cars, and it happens in technology all the time. Slade was asked by a reviewer at Grist: How do we undo this cycle of consumption? “A lot of really sophisticated people devoted a lot of time and thought to developing this system,” he says. “We need to look at the problem creatively and rethink it. Our whole economy is based on buying, trashing, and buying again. We need to rethink industrial design.”

-From Treehugger.

PS AT:HT recommends that you check this book out from your library, or at least find an electronic copy of it, possibly also through your library.