Sunday, March 30, 2014

The failure of overconsumption engineering 3-25-14

Overconsumption is a topic that has been engineered into our culture for the sixty years since the Second World War. This idea was introduced in order to best capitalize on the massive production capacity we built up during the war. When introduced it was thought that this over consumption of goods by the general populace would be good for both business and the happiness of the American populous. However this idea has not proven true, and as it has spread through to more and more products it has decreased consumer happiness  in line with its spread through industries.
In Chapter eleven of the text, Woodhouse speaks about how the sheer volume of waste that goes into current manufacturing of products. With billions of pounds of waste being generated every year in the production of good, many of which cannot be broken down in landfills that will sit there for thousands of years leaching toxins into the environment and groundwater, many of these goods and made from chlorinated hydrocarbons which were introduced to make use of manufacturing bi-products. While there were possibly good intentions behind the reuse of the dangerous chlorine from the manufacture of paper, there was little research done to see if the chemicals they were making were dangerous or harmful to people and the environment. This type of advancement without research can cause harm and with so many companies coming with new materials all the time it becomes difficult for them all to be regulated and tested accurately.

This process of over monetizing has leaked into fields other than manufacturing and classical engineering, such as in the field of computer science where it has lead to a development cycle similar to modern manufacturing in that many applications are being split into smaller projects that can be more easily monetized. This can also be seen in smartphone apps and games where microtransactions and expansions have been introduced to allow developers to introduce content that makes the game easier for people willing to pay. By doing this they are able to make people more willing to part with their money for an inferior product and it makes the applications less enjoyable for people who don't participate in the cycle of paying for content that should be included.

The concept of over consumption has become deeply embedded in our culture to the point that it is not just accepted but expected. This mentality allows companies and manufacturers to sell incomplete products to allow the consumers an illusion of choice that ends in citizens becoming nothing more than mindless consumers with no choice but to buy more every time they want a new feature that they don't need.

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