Slightly OT: Where is the sustainable PC?

22 Feb 2008 - 9:55am
6 years ago
7 replies
721 reads
kimbieler
2007

I've just finished installing a RAM upgrade to my three-year-old Mac
to keep it viable for another year and I'm wondering: Why is no-one
out there building a sustainable desktop PC?

In graphic design, we've got to buy new hardware every 3-5 years
(sooner, if you're not a cheapskate like me) just to stay compatible
with the rest of the world. I'll be forced to buy a new a Mac in a
year or two because they've switched to Intel-based processors and
pretty soon, none of my software will run properly on the old
processor. Old computers pile up like (giant, expensive) dust bunnies
around our house. I went to our local computer recycling station
eighteen months ago with an entire SUV's worth of old equipment, and
already the attic is filling up again.

It's as if the auto industry switched fuel every four years, forcing
you to buy a new car. But even car manufacturers let you trade in
your old vehicle when you buy a new one.

I realize this isn't an interaction design question, but there are a
lot of bright minds here. How come no-one's stepping up to the plate
and saying, "we've got to end the madness!" How hard could it be to
build something modular, where you could upgrade the insides
periodically, and ship the old parts back to manufacturer for a
rebate (and to be recycled)?

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
Office: 301-588-8555
Mobile: 240-476-3129
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Comments

22 Feb 2008 - 9:53am
kimbieler
2007

I've just finished installing a RAM upgrade to my three-year-old Mac
to keep it viable for another year and I'm wondering: Why is no-one
out there building a sustainable desktop PC?

In graphic design, we've got to buy new hardware every 3-5 years
(sooner, if you're not a cheapskate like me) just to stay compatible
with the rest of the world. I'll be forced to buy a new a Mac in a
year or two because they've switched to Intel-based processors and
pretty soon, none of my software will run properly on the old
processor. Old computers pile up like (giant, expensive) dust bunnies
around our house. I went to our local computer recycling station
eighteen months ago with an entire SUV's worth of old equipment, and
already the attic is filling up again.

It's as if the auto industry switched fuel every four years, forcing
you to buy a new car. But even car manufacturers let you trade in
your old vehicle when you buy a new one.

I realize this isn't an interaction design question, but there are a
lot of bright minds here. How come no-one's stepping up to the plate
and saying, "we've got to end the madness!" How hard could it be to
build something modular, where you could upgrade the insides
periodically, and ship the old parts back to manufacturer for a
rebate (and to be recycled)?

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
Office: 301-588-8555
Mobile: 240-476-3129
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

22 Feb 2008 - 10:01am
Gloria Petron
2007

Ah, but that would make sense. :-)

When I think cars and gas and oil, I automatically think "Special Interest
Groups". Not an impossible nut to crack, as we're seeing. But it takes a
long time to pull off a major shift in thinking, especially when there's a
lot of money to be made keeping things the status quo.

When I think PCs and Mac and Windows...well, there are a lot of
similarities.

22 Feb 2008 - 10:13am
stauciuc
2006

Great questions.

I guess a way to rephrase the question would be: "When will they start
providing services instead of products?". Obviously, as long the business
model is 'sell as many products as possible and use whatever resources are
cheapest", there aren't too many incentives for them to produce sustainable,
or even durable products. But if they sold services instead of products
('have a computer at home' subscription, for example), they would be much
more motivated to retrieve the valuable materials that they are using and,
well, to design the products in such a way that nothing is wasted.
So, when will they start providing services?

...I wholeheartedly recommend Cradle to Cradle
<http://www.amazon.com/Cradle-Remaking-Way-Make-Things/dp/0865475873>to
anyone who gives a damn and wants some good insights into the problem.
Sebi

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM, Kim Bieler <kimbieler at mindspring.com>
wrote:

> I've just finished installing a RAM upgrade to my three-year-old Mac
> to keep it viable for another year and I'm wondering: Why is no-one
> out there building a sustainable desktop PC?
>
> In graphic design, we've got to buy new hardware every 3-5 years
> (sooner, if you're not a cheapskate like me) just to stay compatible
> with the rest of the world. I'll be forced to buy a new a Mac in a
> year or two because they've switched to Intel-based processors and
> pretty soon, none of my software will run properly on the old
> processor. Old computers pile up like (giant, expensive) dust bunnies
> around our house. I went to our local computer recycling station
> eighteen months ago with an entire SUV's worth of old equipment, and
> already the attic is filling up again.
>
> It's as if the auto industry switched fuel every four years, forcing
> you to buy a new car. But even car manufacturers let you trade in
> your old vehicle when you buy a new one.
>
> I realize this isn't an interaction design question, but there are a
> lot of bright minds here. How come no-one's stepping up to the plate
> and saying, "we've got to end the madness!" How hard could it be to
> build something modular, where you could upgrade the insides
> periodically, and ship the old parts back to manufacturer for a
> rebate (and to be recycled)?
>
>
> -- Kim
>
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> Kim Bieler Graphic Design
> www.kbgd.com
> Office: 301-588-8555
> Mobile: 240-476-3129
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

22 Feb 2008 - 11:11am
Josh Evnin
2005

There's a great article in last month's Interactions Magazine on this
topic:
Two Digital Divides and Four
Perspectives<http://interactions.acm.org/content/?p=263>by Eli Blevis

I think this is the first article in the new series on sustainability. Great
stuff, and not off topic for this group at all.

Josh

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 10:13 AM, Sebi Tauciuc <stauciuc at gmail.com> wrote:

> Great questions.
>
> I guess a way to rephrase the question would be: "When will they start
> providing services instead of products?". Obviously, as long the business
> model is 'sell as many products as possible and use whatever resources are
> cheapest", there aren't too many incentives for them to produce
> sustainable,
> or even durable products. But if they sold services instead of products
> ('have a computer at home' subscription, for example), they would be much
> more motivated to retrieve the valuable materials that they are using and,
> well, to design the products in such a way that nothing is wasted.
> So, when will they start providing services?
>
> ...I wholeheartedly recommend Cradle to Cradle
> <http://www.amazon.com/Cradle-Remaking-Way-Make-Things/dp/0865475873>to
> anyone who gives a damn and wants some good insights into the problem.
> Sebi
>
>
> On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM, Kim Bieler <kimbieler at mindspring.com>
> wrote:
>
> > I've just finished installing a RAM upgrade to my three-year-old Mac
> > to keep it viable for another year and I'm wondering: Why is no-one
> > out there building a sustainable desktop PC?
> >
> > In graphic design, we've got to buy new hardware every 3-5 years
> > (sooner, if you're not a cheapskate like me) just to stay compatible
> > with the rest of the world. I'll be forced to buy a new a Mac in a
> > year or two because they've switched to Intel-based processors and
> > pretty soon, none of my software will run properly on the old
> > processor. Old computers pile up like (giant, expensive) dust bunnies
> > around our house. I went to our local computer recycling station
> > eighteen months ago with an entire SUV's worth of old equipment, and
> > already the attic is filling up again.
> >
> > It's as if the auto industry switched fuel every four years, forcing
> > you to buy a new car. But even car manufacturers let you trade in
> > your old vehicle when you buy a new one.
> >
> > I realize this isn't an interaction design question, but there are a
> > lot of bright minds here. How come no-one's stepping up to the plate
> > and saying, "we've got to end the madness!" How hard could it be to
> > build something modular, where you could upgrade the insides
> > periodically, and ship the old parts back to manufacturer for a
> > rebate (and to be recycled)?
> >
> >
> > -- Kim
> >
> > + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> > Kim Bieler Graphic Design
> > www.kbgd.com
> > Office: 301-588-8555
> > Mobile: 240-476-3129
> > + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
> http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://josh.ev9.org/weblog

22 Feb 2008 - 11:11am
Josh Evnin
2005

There's a great article in last month's Interactions Magazine on this
topic:
Two Digital Divides and Four
Perspectives<http://interactions.acm.org/content/?p=263>by Eli Blevis

I think this is the first article in the new series on sustainability. Great
stuff, and not off topic for this group at all.

Josh

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 10:13 AM, Sebi Tauciuc <stauciuc at gmail.com> wrote:

> Great questions.
>
> I guess a way to rephrase the question would be: "When will they start
> providing services instead of products?". Obviously, as long the business
> model is 'sell as many products as possible and use whatever resources are
> cheapest", there aren't too many incentives for them to produce
> sustainable,
> or even durable products. But if they sold services instead of products
> ('have a computer at home' subscription, for example), they would be much
> more motivated to retrieve the valuable materials that they are using and,
> well, to design the products in such a way that nothing is wasted.
> So, when will they start providing services?
>
> ...I wholeheartedly recommend Cradle to Cradle
> <http://www.amazon.com/Cradle-Remaking-Way-Make-Things/dp/0865475873>to
> anyone who gives a damn and wants some good insights into the problem.
> Sebi
>
>
> On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM, Kim Bieler <kimbieler at mindspring.com>
> wrote:
>
> > I've just finished installing a RAM upgrade to my three-year-old Mac
> > to keep it viable for another year and I'm wondering: Why is no-one
> > out there building a sustainable desktop PC?
> >
> > In graphic design, we've got to buy new hardware every 3-5 years
> > (sooner, if you're not a cheapskate like me) just to stay compatible
> > with the rest of the world. I'll be forced to buy a new a Mac in a
> > year or two because they've switched to Intel-based processors and
> > pretty soon, none of my software will run properly on the old
> > processor. Old computers pile up like (giant, expensive) dust bunnies
> > around our house. I went to our local computer recycling station
> > eighteen months ago with an entire SUV's worth of old equipment, and
> > already the attic is filling up again.
> >
> > It's as if the auto industry switched fuel every four years, forcing
> > you to buy a new car. But even car manufacturers let you trade in
> > your old vehicle when you buy a new one.
> >
> > I realize this isn't an interaction design question, but there are a
> > lot of bright minds here. How come no-one's stepping up to the plate
> > and saying, "we've got to end the madness!" How hard could it be to
> > build something modular, where you could upgrade the insides
> > periodically, and ship the old parts back to manufacturer for a
> > rebate (and to be recycled)?
> >
> >
> > -- Kim
> >
> > + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> > Kim Bieler Graphic Design
> > www.kbgd.com
> > Office: 301-588-8555
> > Mobile: 240-476-3129
> > + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
> http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://josh.ev9.org/weblog

22 Feb 2008 - 1:25pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Sebi said: "I guess a way to rephrase the question would be: 'When
will they start providing services instead of products?' "

I think that's a shrewd way of looking at it, and it begs another
question: When will we demand that?

It's like all service. We have to support the services we want and
refuse to settle for less. That means we (the end users) are the only
ones who can assure sustainability; and if we don't take
responsibility for that, "they" won't either.

A case in point (and a perennial favorite target) is Microsoft
Windows. I retired a Windows 2000 computer last year after Microsoft
announced the last and most insidious irreparable security flaw in an
OS that I generally liked pretty well. I'd already maxed out the RAM
potential on the motherboard, and I hated to discard the computer,
but it really wasn't suited for an upgrade to XP. So just for laughs
I wiped the hard drive clean and installed Ubuntu Linux, which
recognized and configured all hardware, configured for the existing
wireless network and "just worked" from the start.

I've since installed a ridiculous number of open source programs for
everything from web design and graphics to desktop publishing and
sound editing, and what I have now is a computer customized to my own
eclectic needs. I was fretting the other day about overtaxing the only
internal drive, and checked my available drive space. I was stunned to
find I'm using only 11.5 gigabytes on a 60-gig drive. I'd estimate
that similar software on a Microsoft system would weigh in at roughly
three times that.

Does anyone really think all the hardware we throw away is useless,
or that all software must be endlessly expandable? That's the same
thinking that gets us more laws instead of better laws. Maybe we've
just accepted an irrational premise from manufacturers who measure
their success in terms of production and sales, period. If so, we do
have the power to change that.

I think sustainable technology and sustainable design principles are
increasingly important, but I don't anticipate much support from
government or the business sector. The U.S. Dept. of Energy lost
funding for its sustainable design initiative in 2002:
http://www.pnl.gov/doesustainabledesign/index.html

With a multi-trillion-dollar budget deficit, I don't see that coming
back anytime soon. It would be a good niche for some forward-thinking
university research, as NC State has done for universal design:
http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/index.htm

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26306

22 Feb 2008 - 3:46pm
Gloria Petron
2007

I agree with you that sustainable efforts should start with sustainable
thinking, but fortunately, there are some sustainable initiatives that can
happen without an altruistic motive. I offer you an example of a business
sector which has adopted sustainability, complete with dedicated internal &
external websites and all.

I work for an international private bank in NYC, where the proliferation of
global wealth combined with audit requirements have resulted in the classic
"more laws, not better laws" syndrome...the resulting paper waste related to
account-opening procedures has employees buried like gerbils. Therefore,
rolling out enviro-friendly projects like paperless statements and
electronic faxing -albeit late- have become huge. I'd like to say these
projects were inspired by the crying American Indian commercial, but they
weren't...they were inspired by high operating costs eating into Q4 results.
It's totally self-serving and has little to do with altruism, and
paradoxically, the bank has turned the whole thing into a photo-op. I don't
know whether to be depressed by this or resigned...maybe both. But at least
I can take comfort that corporations ARE capable of change.

Perhaps the next step is for me to propose PC recycling...we certainly have
enough junky machines lying around.

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