The End Of Planned Obsolescence

So let’s talk a little about the future and what it could look like. What it WILL look like if our little project finds fertile soil and takes root (and yes – even though I do not know who you are, that you are reading these words, I’m including you in the project – it’s not mine, it’s OURS. If I wanted it only for myself, there would be no reason, and nothing to be gained by writing this blog until such time as I can transfer everything that matters over to the site proper…so again, OUR project!)

One of the earliest changes that members of the network will notice is the end of “planned obsolescence.” There simply won’t be any need for it. Planned obsolescence is an artifact of the current (dollar) economy.

In the system we have now, all production that occurs does so for the prospect of financial gain. This leads to the inevitable consequence of a consumerist society, which in turn, inevitably leads to planned obsolesce. How could it lead anywhere else, really? If you want to KEEP making money in the long term, then it doesn’t make any sense to build a product that lasts forever, because of course, that means you can’t sell as many of it, which is how we got where we are today.

But of course, that’s not the foundation upon which our project is built, and because our foundations are different, our endpoint will be different too.

Much of what we’ll be doing will be open source.

Fablabs will be groups inside Holons that members can choose to join, or not (these groups will likely have membership fees, because that closely mirrors the current model in the dollar economy, and it makes sense, given that the machines and the building that houses them are not free). So…if you want to become a maker…a producer…you join one of these groups. If you don’t, you can still order product from them, but remember – open source, and our model is built on a foundation of acts of service, not profit.

In such a model, it just doesn’t make sense to build cheaply made crap that will be useless in six months or a year. It makes a lot more sense (and is, in fact, a much better act of service) to build products as modularly and customizably as possible, so that the Fabbers and Makers can cater to individual tastes and preference, and build for durability and longevity, and I predict that’s exactly what will happen. We can go all out where artistry is concerned. Our designs can be exquisite, for no other reason than just because we can. Art for art’s sake.

Over time, because most of the designs will be open source, they’ll be improved, tweaked, optimized and perfected, and all this ON TOP of the individualization that the microfactories make possible. When you think about this – it’s really a game changer. A total paradigm shift. How much money does the average person waste, every year, re-buying the latest versions of products they already own, rendered useless after a very sort period of time, BY DESIGN!?

I shudder to even contemplate the number, and that goes away under our new system, which means that people will be able to build or buy true heirloom pieces on every front, and more of their personal resources can be devoted to improving their lives, rather than shoveling their resources to big corporations, just to keep all the plates spinning.

Something to think about, and something to look forward to. πŸ™‚

-=Vel=-

7 comments

  1. “…and I predict that’s exactly what will happen.”

    Not any time soon here in the U.S.. Here it’s going the other way, and by threat of jail/fines. Everything must be for-profit, and/or a privilege of wealth, and that’s the dog gone way the Lord intended it to be. Anything other than that is communism.

    πŸ˜‰

    I appreciate the optimism, but surely you have heard about the DMCA?

    At least here in the U.S., we’re so at a disadvantage to the planned obsolescence hegemony, thanks to the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act, quietly written-up behind closed doors with lobbyists, and passed swiftly and equally quietly through congress back in 1999.

    It was a serious game changer, creating the corporate consumer-surveillance system and ultimately aimed at restricting access to networks, software, and hardware over the long run, having users/consumers jailed, both literally and figuratively should they dare strike out on their own and innovate. We mustn’t ever have fair competition, the corporate giants loath competing with the little guy making better/cheaper more reliable products and services than their’s.

    The planned obsolescence hegemony is why I built my own computer…and has me so very much more aware of the situation by virtue of having done as much. It’s relatively future proof and easily upgrade-able. I got sick of my commercially produced off-the-shelf store-bought computers burning-out, quite literally mere days after warranties expired (because I use my computer almost constantly), and then their service departments, always exceedingly difficult to contact, telling me it would be cheaper to replace it than fix it. I’ve had it for years now, a few upgrades in the case of the GPU to keep up with the latest games, and it is still clocking faster than most off-the-shelf computers, off-the-shelf-ones loaded-down with all manner of useless commercial software and performance hogging apps.

    Although if what I’m reading lately is true, the new Skylake CPU along with solid state hard drives that plug right into the PCI bus with 4 dedicated channels in the bios…. looks to be making for a next gen in computing. I digress….

    I’ve not only saved a lot coin over the years, not having to buy new computers every two years, but a lot of frustration and stress (losing everything not backed-up to an external hard drive. The cloud isn’t all that either… companies providing cloud services are not without problems (outages, hacked accounts, curious fees appearing on your credit card statements, etc… ).

    Unfortunately… that I saved a lot of coin is why the planned obsolescence hegemony is working desperately to preclude access for people like me to hardware and software…. Those of us you are talking about in this essay that continuously modify and make improvements to whatever system, hardware and software alike, are increasingly finding ourselves at odds with the law. People who set up and manage the servers used by the rouge share-ing/modifying community…. legally harassed with civil suites and frivolous patent violation suits.

    And that’s not it, Vel. Over the years, i’ve been seeing the walls going up on the internet. Whole regions unable to use or download certain types of software or services. You think it’s one big global community and wealth of shared ideas and the like… less and less so. Facebook, for example, has dedicated regional servers, and never the different facebook communities to mix and mingle…Part of that is a language thing…but a lot of it because other countries don’t let facebook get away some of the privacy violating crap… so it’s gotta be a completely divorced community. You have to spoof your IP address in many cases if you want to see what people are doing on the internet in other countries, and use the otherwise free internet services provided in those dagnabbit socialistic countries, things like old music and tv shows archived and freely available by ministries of culture/heritage.

    “Your region does not have access to this content”

    Sound familiar?

    We are the arch enemies of the planned obsolescence hegemony, being carted off to jail, slapped with impossible fines. Sure… you may have bought that cellular phone or game council, computer game, or video-editing program legitimately, but you no longer genuinely own the stuff you buy. Daring to crack open a piece of hardware, or hack a program to make some mods, so it runs better or is more suitable to how you are using it, or trying to put software on your system that wasn’t purchased from the company store…lol… their app store… that made that system….Even daring to entirely invent/fabricate your own version of as much, you own idea, sharing it, and enough people catching onto it, thus reducing some big corporate monopoly’s market share a half-percentage point … Watch out bucko!

    You can’t turn on that FM chip in your cell phone, even though it’s your cell phone…. no no no… you have to subscribe to or buy some streaming service your cellular carrier owns, in whole or in part, and that lands you with bigger data usage bills.

    Domestic internet access is going the same way too…. Net neutrality very much in the cross hairs of the big corporate lobbyists. Municipalities once trying to set up free … tax-funded… faster/better fiber-optic infrastructure so that every home in the community has free internet access, getting shut down by cable and cellular giants.

    Like everything else in our glorious plutocracy, everything, sooner or later, must be a privilege of wealth, or otherwise rapaciously profited from such that it’s more a criminal disservice thwarting quality, progress and freedom of choices….and that’s the way God intended it to be.

    Am I right?

    People like me are enemy number one, building our own computers, sharing software and fixes, refusing to use consumer-jail hardware, and/or set-up accounts/subscriptions on “the cloud” with all manner of personal information shared to the corporate consumer-surveillance complex, for every single tom dick and app,…. people like me are why game council makers, the big operating system giants, cable and cellular service monopolies, increasingly interwoven, Kafkaesque Castles, trying to preclude the PC/open-source community (gamers, hactivists, mods), with exclusive contracts with commercial software producers requiring the purchase of also commercially produced devices, legislative attacks on net neutrality, …

    I’m ranting now…

    I hope you are right with your optimistic prediction, but the way I see it is that it will get worse…. particularly the closer we get to artificial intelligence and the corporate overlords they will quickly become

  2. Yuna! πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading and for an amazing, well thought-out reply! I’m actually thinking that your reply deserves to be the basis for a post on this blog in its own right – with your permission of course, I’d like to do just that.

    Every word of what you typed is true and correct – that IS the way the winds are blowing, and it’s one of the reasons I feel that this project is so important…so vital to our future, and ultimately, to our well-being. This is the topography that Play the Planet will have to live in, and this is what will, I believe, define and motivate our enemies, which is a topic I’ve covered before (most notably here: http://playtheplanetblog.creativisms.org/the-importance-of-mythology/ and here: http://playtheplanetblog.creativisms.org/ptp-power-politics/ with a bit to also be found here: http://playtheplanetblog.creativisms.org/ptps-deeper-implications/ )

    So in the face of those realities, the real challenge will be that we cannot just make everything available…we have to bypass all the copyrighted material and live only in the open source world. Any gaps we find in that world…any object, piece of equipment or material that the users of the network need, but can’t find an open source version for, we’ll have to create all of those ourselves, and in the spirit OF the project, when we do, we’ll have to make them open source too – which will happen in this system by design, because our foundation is so very different. In the PtP network, it simply won’t make any sense to do it any other way.

    For my part, in order to give us a place of beginning, I have been scouring the internet looking for free and open source project files I can load into the ShopBot and other machines that make up the FabLab I’ve got on the drawing board. These plans give us materials to work with, can be freely modified, tweaked etc., but ultimately, we’ll add to this library by creating our own designs. (current state of the library is here: http://playtheplanetblog.creativisms.org/fablab-library-index/ ) – it isn’t heavily populated at the moment, because I’m only managing to add to it at a rate of about three new items a day, but give it six months and it’ll start looking fairly healthy πŸ™‚ ).

    Of course, the fact that we’re not violating any of their rules will not prevent them from harassing us, and I’m actually expecting and anticipating that. Not in the beginning of course – we’ll be too small to matter, but later, as we gain traction, it will scare the bejesus out of them, because this idea will threaten their profits. This will be the reason we’ll find ourselves in need of heroes to counter the villains of the story.

    For now though, I am satisfied that the people who begin to make use of the network will have access to a small-but-growing collection of durable, artistic, open source goods and services designed in the same spirit and mindset that prompted you to build your own PC. I suspect that most of our network’s members will live with a “foot in both worlds,” so to speak – accessing the dollar economy as needed, and coming here for the rest, but the day will surely come when a tipping point is reached. At that point, things get a lot more exciting, but also a fair bit more uncertain, and perhaps even dangerous.

    -=Vel=-

        1. And yes to this! I think that it’s very much in the same spirit, if a bit more focused, and of a kinder and gentler bearing, but certainly born of the same cloth.

      1. Thank you very much, and no worries – ranty is good. I’d say that ranty is necessary, given the current state of things…the “condition of the condition” of the world, if you will. πŸ™‚

        There’s much work to be done, and I’m perfectly happy to continue plodding along at whatever pace I can manage, but I’m hopeful that as I continue, this project will gain the attention and interest of like minded souls who are curious to see what the tree looks like when it sprouts out of the ground. If you’re one of those, hit this page (http://playtheplanetblog.creativisms.org/wanna-be-a-part-of-it/ ) and shoot me a note. I can’t promise where we ultimately end up, but I can promise it will be one hell of an interesting adventure. πŸ™‚

        -=Vel=-

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