• Mark Strong

Magic Possessions


An old camera, opened to show exposed gears

Raise your hand if you have a lucky object. I'm willing to bet that most of these things aren't electronics. A lucky scarf you were wearing when you found something, a jacket that helped you make it through a storm, a magic pencil you always use for exams. What state are these things in? Are they pristine and protected, dull and damaged, or repaired and revitalized? There are so many tech products that don't make this revered status because the manufacturer-consumer relationship is bizarre. With cars, you can find windshield wipers, oil, headlights and mechanics to repair them all over the place instead of purely at the dealership. Car makers have relented the control of part and repair services. This is not with case with any of the latest game consoles, which don't have part names in the manuals and instead rely on shipping back to the manufacturer. With phones, the carrier has convenient pricing to upgrade to newer phones instead of a battery replacement or screen repair program, other times tech products are so cheaply made that users have to be careful to use it every single time if they want it to last.


A cartoon robot with limbs on the table ponders how to put itself back together

Climate change is helping people realize that makers can do their part in avoiding such blatant wastefulness. It's easy to understand that gadgets are complex and neither manufacturers nor consumers want to pay more for durable things; but there's just not much incentive to pay a professional $20 to repair a controller when a new one is $30. At the same time, we've all run into that case where the new item performs different. Sure, the latest model could be faster and lighter, plus you get that wonderful electronics smell as a reward for unwrapping the thing. But some manufacturers release objectively inferior products over time as they replace strong metals with weak metals and weak metals with weaker plastics or simply cut features to make the product more economical.


Solutions to the problems above are often hassles or headaches, and there is a growing 'Right to repair' movement. These are laws that require manufacturers to make replacement parts more accessible for consumers to repair (or maintain) their items, rather than the path of planned obsolescence that we see so often now. Imagine if you could keep your favorite phone for longer than 2 years with a simple and cheap battery replacement service. This solution could look like Samsung, LG and Google using a standard size battery across all their models of phone in the same way that SIM and memory cards are all the same size. That would mean renewing your phone is as simple as a few screws and snapping a battery into place. What if opening your game system to do a deep cleaning didn't require a special Torx screwdriver bit and instead used a simple Philips #00 bit that is way more common? These ideas keep products in use longer and could keep more money in your wallet with less-frequent replacing.


More longevity in our possessions would give us more chances to use these items and maybe even have some lucky electronics.


The Self-Repair Manifesto from Ifixit.com
From Ifixit.com

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