Monday, November 15, 2010

If You Can't Fix It, Can You Own It?

The proud tradition of human ingenuity under threat... (More from There I Fixed It)

I like the premise of the iFixit manifesto. Too many things these days - from PCs, TVs, toys to toasters - are sold as if they're on loan. Open anything up, try to fix it and you've voided your warranty faster than you can blink. Most stuff is now made only to be thrown away and replaced - fixing is tantamount to a criminal offense.

Manufacturers even patent new screw head designs to stop you opening stuff up with your trusty Phillips. They no longer provide service manuals or spare parts... This really does beg the question, how can you really own something if you can't even fix it?

It might seem a nerdish, abstruse topic to get passionate about, but it's a biggie if you think about it. Like a few months back, I remember a guy at the Apple store being told disapprovingly that they wouldn't help him with his faulty iPhone because the backing showed "evidence of tampering". It's like he'd trespassed on his own property and was now being punished for abusing Apple's trust. Damn, I thought, you slap down the price of a used Hyundai for a freakin' phone, it craps out and you're not even allowed to open it up and take a peak? So do you own the outside, the service contract and the fake leather case only while Apple still own the inside? When was the age-old concept of ownership redefined? And who let Steve Jobs do it?

But it's not just ownership. As iFixit reminds us, there's the issue of environmental sustainability too:

"Repair saves the planet. Earth has limited resources and we can't run a linear manufacturing process forever. The best way to be efficient is to reuse what we already have."

So let's all grab a screw driver, pry open that piece of electronic crap that's been sitting in the closet forever because you keep forgetting to take it back to Target... open that sucker up, take a look. Sure, you may have no clue what you're doing but, what the hell, it's yours, you have opposable thumbs, you paid for it and you have the right!



  1. Brave New World? Fixing stuff is bad for the economy!

  2. Yes! I stuffed a piece of #12 wire up inside a broken plug a couple weeks ago. It was either that or drive all the way home or go to the nearest Lowes for a new one. A side bonus was that my kid and wife thought I was a fucking genius to pull it off without shooting sparks or lighting up myself.


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