Wednesday, March 4, 2009

the repair manifesto: best idea ever?

Platform 2 1, a dutch design collaborative is launching a new project based on repairing as an alternative to recycling.

from their website:

the project, Platform21=Repairing " starts from the notion that repair, as a creative, cultural and economical force is underestimated. With this, an incredibly rich body of knowledge, a part of our independence and pleasure could be lost. This situation is especially puzzling if you consider the global interest in other durable visions like recycling, and the cradle-to-cradle philosophy. Hence Platform21 = Repairing wants to create more awareness of a mentality, culture and practice that not so long ago was completely integrated in life and the way we designed it. It is not too late though."

it's true. more and more we are encouraged to give in to the idea that as consumers we need technical skill and expertise to repair or fix what we buy. this notion that we don't need to understand how something works to use it just makes us more beholden to the mystique of technology and will make it easier for the robot overlords to enslave all of humanity some day.

seriously though, how many people who buy a computer have no idea how it works? who don't know how to even perform basic maintenance on it?

and cars. people with cars are the worst. i don't own a car and i never have, but i can't even count the number of times i've had to show my car-owning friends(or siblings) how to do simple things like checking their fluid levels or filling their tires with air. air!

if you're using a product every single day, if it drives you to work, you compose all of your work on it, cook your food on it, listen to music on it, or shower in it shouldn't you understand the basics of how it works?

this is why the repair manifesto is the best idea ever.

repairing things allows you to learn something that you may not have had the chance to learn before. its an avenue for controlling the products that you use on a daily basis and not just treating them like some magical, unknowable force.


1. Make your products live longer!
Repairing means taking the opportunity to give your product a second life. Don’t ditch it, stitch it!
Don’t end it, mend it! Repairing is not anti-consumption. It is anti- needlessly throwing things away.
2. Things should be designed so that they can be repaired.
Product designers: Make your products repairable. Share clear, understandable information
about DIY repairs.
Consumers: Buy things you know can be repaired, or else find out why they don’t exist.
Be critical and inquisitive.
3. Repair is not replacement.
Replacement is throwing away the broken bit. This is NOT the kind of repair that we’re
talking about.
4. What doesn’t kill it makes it stronger.
Every time we repair something, we add to its potential, its history, its soul and its
inherent beauty.
5. Repairing is a creative challenge.
Making repairs is good for the imagination. Using new techniques, tools and materials
ushers in possibility rather than dead ends.
6. Repair survives fashion.
Repair is not about styling or trends. There are no due-dates for repairable items.
7. To repair is to discover.
As you fix objects, you’ll learn amazing things about how they actually work. Or don’t work.
8. Repair – even in good times!
If you think this manifesto has to do with the recession, forget it. This isn’t about money,
it’s about a mentality.
9. Repaired things are unique.
Even fakes become originals when you repair them.
10. Repairing is about independence.
Don’t be a slave to technology – be its master. If it’s broken, fix it and make it better.
And if you’re a master, empower others.
11. You can repair anything, even a plastic bag.
But we’d recommend getting a bag that will last longer, and then repairing it if necessary.

click here to download the manifesto

as steve mann(geek alert!) writes, understanding technologies allows us to "confront technology with technology put to different purposes and ends" and that in doing so we "will clear roads previously blocked to us-we will turn off the highway of blind progress that encourages us to speed toward a future destination fuelled by technologies are asked not to understand."

mann uses the ubiquitous microsoft windows as an example of a "system designed to function independently of us, we do not need to know how it works, we only need to apply our needs to its function, but what happens when something goes wrong? our total ignorance means we cannot sharpen our own pencil"

repairing shit makes us sharpen our pencil. it forces us to learn how to sharpen pencils we didn't even know we had and ingenuity and learning how to be self-sufficient are two things that only go up in value--even with the second great depression looming.

more about Platform 21:

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