Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Without Buyers, the Market Dies


Technology, any technology, is not as good as the people who design it, or the people who build it, or the people who sell it, or the people who install it. Technology is only as good as the people who maintain it. Often, in today’s world, that’s you and I.

As devices multiply and become more complex, we are less conscientious than we need to be. It gets worse when we have to rely on today’s English-not-first-language documentation. Any wonder we don’t always follow instructions correctly?

It would be different if these devices had a long life span, changing little over time. But then manufacturers couldn’t sell enough to stay in business. They know this and have their tricks.

The solution for the manufacturers is to make and sell products with a short life span. One method is planned obsolescence. Another is inducing users to discard what they have in favor of newer technology. This is the path of today’s digital technology.

Anticipation of “the next great thing” is a slogan originated by Apple, Now it’s so deeply engrained in our digital culture, most people don’t recall its origin. All they know is they want it, now.

Remember when automobiles advertised longer, lower, wider, etc.? Back then, this was called conspicuous consumption. We were told it was bad to buy things we didn’t really need.

Buying those old cars with excess chrome and ever-higher tail-fins may have been bad, but it didn’t hurt the economy. Why? Because there has always been a robust used car market. After the initial purchase, those cars were sold over and over again.

Not so with “outmoded” digital devices. Not only is their initial first owner lifetime very short (far shorter than those cars), but there is practically no resale market. Now the cycle is buy, use briefly, and toss. Then buy “the next great thing.”

Every little purchase turns the great wheel of consumption driving the economy. Yet, business continues shedding jobs, forgetting that without consumers there is no consumption. And without all this consumption, there will be no economy.

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