Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Disposal Society vs. The Disposable Society.

To put it simply, the former is what we have now i.e. Buy!Buy!Buy! (Throwaway!) Buy!Buy!Buy! (Throwaway!) Buy! some more etc. Repeat till everyone dies.

The latter is almost identical in principle with just one fundamental difference i.e. Buy!Buy!Buy!, (Throwaway!) Recycle! Rebuy!Rebuy!Rebuy! Reuse! Throwaway! Repeat till you can repeat no more.

One is the usual cannibalistic zero-sum madness, waste by any other name. The other is sustainable, affordable and surprisingly plausible (at least when you consider the source ... )

But let us look at things in a slightly more complex light. To fully adapt to a Disposable Society, we’d have to significantly modify the cultural tendency towards status symbols. This is because, for a Disposable Society to work, everything must be disposable and made of recyclable materials i.e. paper, plastic, cardboard (while I'm certain we'll come up with technology that allows us to recycle everything, I’m working with the now, for now).

Now perhaps, you're saying "Aight, cool, cool, but how the hell is this s**t gon' work?"

Look at the rate of improvement in electronic devices (cellphones, computers etc) – I just read Stross’ saying his cellphone is more powerful than a 1977-era Cray supercomputer. With Moore’s Law still intact so far, we can expect cellphones eighteen months (or is that two years?) from now to be twice as powerful as that. Then there’s that hand-cranked laptop the MIT folks want to ship to Africa. With stuff like that around, I can see some particularly bright Nigerian secondary schooler making a working cardboard cell-phone with two-year old spare parts.

Now imagine mass-producing that. Result? Ridiculously cheap cell-phones you can throw ‘way after a week and get another one. Hell, they could even be free (given away in cereal boxes and Happy Meals). As for keeping the same phone number, that’s not difficult – them thar information networks gettin’ into everything these days. Think non-evil ubiquitous computing.

But I’m not on the singularity tip today – we’re talking Green, not Spike. If we have deep market penetration of cheap-to-free cellphones, paper clothes of shocking utility and comfort, toilet paper iPods and so forth, recycling becomes a good business model for all concerned.

Think Disposable, not Disposal - wouldn't it be nice.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Hannibal Tabu said...

I suppose this is why you're the apprentice -- someone is already doing so and I vaguely remember another type of cell phone they made that was literally a sheet of plastic with wires in it, barely thicker than aluminum foil.

The future is faster than even we expect.

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Hannibal Tabu said...

Oh I forgot -- if you want the modern world to go down in flames (like yours truly) the Disposable Society is pretty much an easy way to stay active in your own beliefs while doing your regular, everyday stuff.

Just saying -- you'll never out-recycle the amount I can waste, and I'm not the only one doing it on purpose ... >8^)

5:01 AM  
Blogger razorsmile said...

Holy Crap!

In Draft Zero of this post, I actually had "paper laptops" in the last paragraph. I cut it and replaced it with "toilet paper iPods" because ... well, because I really hate those iPod ads.

The future is faster than even we expect.

True, but that is hardly the future's fault. Verily then, our expectations must be greatened.

----

I'm not sure I understand your second comment.

Just saying -- you'll never out-recycle the amount I can waste, and I'm not the only one doing it on purpose ... >8^)

Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me >8^p

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Hannibal Tabu said...

Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me >8^p

You're forgetting -- "a vote for chaos is its own reward." The destruction of carbon based life is an opportunity, not a loss.

8:25 PM  
Blogger razorsmile said...

The destruction of carbon based life is an opportunity, not a loss.

If I/my memeome can get in on the post-carbon action, sure. Otherwise, not.

I am very self-focused, you see.

:D

4:01 PM  

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