ABC’s The Checkout ran a piece last night on forced obsolescence with a strong tech focus. I didn’t entirely agree with all of it, but it raises the good issue of what happens to old tech.
I would embed the clip, but there’s no facility to do so; instead if you head over to The Checkout web site, it’s the clip labelled “A load of rubbish”
Now, I do have some minor issues with the piece. I’m not entirely convinced that many end users buy tablets or phones with a view to them being user serviceable, and it’s not as though a phone repairer is exactly a disinterested party in this case. Equally, the section covering iPad changes makes some reasonable points, but ignores the fact that a fourth generation iPad is a fair step up in computing power from an original iPad. Few complain that Ford, Holden or Toyota bring out “new” car models every year — but they’re still just cars!
Still, the point on obsolescence for working technology is a good one. I’m as guilty as most (possibly more guilty) of getting excited by new gadgets (which is why I enjoy what I do) with new capabilities, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot of my technology ends up kerbside waiting to be trashed.
I’ve still got a first generation iPad — which my kids use as their day to day tablet — and more than a few mobile phones — but the dead ones go to mobile recycling, typically to benefit the local primary school when they have a drive for them. My own tastes in retro gaming are rather well known, which is why underneath an older (but still working) Philips LCD TV (this one, as it happens) sits everything from an Atari 2600 to an Xbox 360. Journalist salaries aren’t exactly on the super-shiny side, and while I do sometimes win a door prize product (or similar), I’m choosy about what I actually spend my money on — and I make sure I keep it until it plain stops working, or find someone else who can use it. I’d strongly encourage everyone to do exactly that too, even though I’m keen on new products and gadgets generally.