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The Light Bulb Conspiracy

The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Written by Thiago Christofoletti

22 March 2014

Every product has a life span, and everything dies eventually. If you think about it, how many times did you have to replace a mobile phone, or another everyday product feeling that it didn’t last as long as you expected it to? Or maybe had its malfunctioning checked for a repair only to realized that the spare parts and service would cost you more than a brand new piece? Is any of this unfamiliar?

A few days ago I was reading about a certain electronic device and its inevitable death, how I should be prepared and use alternatives to secure the data it contained. A good advice to save me from an unnecessary surprise when it actually failed to function. But what if rather than preparing for a worst-case scenario most products, being them anything from stockings to electronic devices, are designed to a specific – and brief – life span? Are we being forced into a vicious consumer circle?

To understand this we have to consider the economy of our days, the consumer society. You’ve probably already replaced a product just because a newer version was released to the market. Well, we all have. New products, newer versions, this is what keeps the capitalism system running. And what keeps jobs alive.

But the urge to own a newer product, or to own something sooner than we would need to is not something new. It dates back to the industrial revolution, when mass production made many goods widely available and people started shopping for fun rather than need. But with it came the Great Depression, when the basic mechanism of supply and demand was hurt: machines produced more than people could buy.

Alternatives had to be found to keep society running and jobs available, and what better way than to design products for a shorter expiration date? And it’s not that we can’t design good, long-living products. In fact, in the late 1890s inventor Adolphe Chaillet designed what to this day remains the world’s longest working light bulb. One exemplar donated to a Fire Department in Livermore, Florida in 1901 is still working perfectly.

Planned obsolescence was subject for this film by Cosima Dannoritzer called The Light Bulb Conspiracy, where the capitalist economy found its survival way and how it potentially revolutionized how products are conceived.

And if you were curious about the perfectly working centennial light bulb, check out this website and see it for yourself: The Centennial Light Bulb webcam.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Olive says:

    *Great post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Bless you!

  2. It is actually near extremely difficult to encounter well-aware americans on this area, however , you look like you know those things you’re revealing! Many Thanks

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