Death dating vs planned obsolescence

But where is the ethical debate in the design literature or on the major design websites?Where is the morality discussion in our technology and engineering journals?

Having now read the book for myself, here’s my review, including noteworthy ‘architectures of control’ examples and pertinent commentary.Slade examines the phenomenon of obsolescence in products from the early 20th century to the present day, through chapters looking, roughly chronologically, at different waves of obsolescence and the reasons behind them in a variety of fields – including the razor-blade model in consumer products, the FM radio débâcle in the US, the ever-shortening life-cycles of mobile phones, and even planned malfunction in Cold War-era US technology copied by the USSR.Planned obsolescence acquired the ominous label "death dating" during the 1950s, but even in the 1930s, General Electric was already seeking to limit the life span of flashlight bulbs in order to maximize sales under monopoly conditions.At midcentury, renewed protests surfaced against the seductions of innovation.In fact, it was as early as 1932 when American economist Bernard London first introduced the term, 'planned obsolescence' – often referred to as death-dating – as a means to stimulate spending among the very few that had money at that time.

This proposed shift toward an increasingly disposable material world was initially proposed as a solution to dark economic crisis experienced during the Great Depression in the US (1929).While the book ostensibly looks at these subjects in relation to the US, it all rings true from an international viewpoint.* The major factors in technology-driven obsolescence, in particular electronic miniaturisation, are well covered, and there is a very good treatment of psychological obsolescence, both deliberate (as in the 1950s US motor industry, the fashion industry – and in the manipulation techniques brought to widespread attention by Vance Packard’s ) and unplanned but inherent to human desire (neophilia).Philosophy of planned obsolescence The practice of ‘death-dating’ – what’s often called built-in obsolescence in the UK – i.e., designing products to fail after a certain time (and very much an architecture of control when used to lock the consumer into replacement cycles) is dealt with initially within a Depression-era US context (see below), but continued with an extremely interesting look at a debate on the subject carried on in the editorials and readers’ letters of in 1958-9, in which industrial designers and engineers argued over the ethics (and efficiency) of the practice, with the attitudes of major magazine advertisers and sponsors seemingly playing a part in shaping some attitudes.The ecological impacts of this drive toward planned product failure could not have been anticipated or understood in the 1930s.Today, however, we are all too aware of the catastrophe-making character of these practices, and they simply cannot history is its exploration of how professionals in twentieth-century America wrestled with the ethics and practicalities of moving from the former to the latter.