Don’t worry, this is not going to be another post about boots and arborist or anything down those lines.
Rather, I was thinking about gear wearing out and about how annoying I find it sometimes, when you have to replace things, just when they were well worn in and working really well.
This reminded me of David Brin’s 1984 novel, The Practice Effect.
This novel plays in a world, where as you use objects, instead of wearing out, they improve. This effect is known as the Practice Effect. So with use, swords get sharper, baskets improve the more things they carry, decorations and jewelry get more attractive the more they are looked at. However, if they are not put to use, an object’s condition deteriorates over time. For this reason, the wealthy employ servants to practice their possessions to perfection.
I would love to have a Practice Effect for my gear, I always feel a bit guilty binning a tool or a piece of kit that has rendered good services without fail – seems rather ungrateful.
Actually, the world we live in is the polar opposite of the world that Brin portrays: with an economy that builds on constant growth, consumption and expansion. Apparently in the consumer electronics world there is a phrase that talks about new every two, that is the calculation when it comes to life cycles of our electronic gizmos, that we replace them every two years. Or planned obsolescence, which is just such a euphemism: to prevent high-quality products from being in circulation too long, failure points are integrated into them to ensure that they will fail after a defined period of time. This in turn ensures sales and revenue for the corporations and companies.
I believe a bit more Practice Effect and a bit less rampant consumerism in this world of finite resources is what we urgently need if, as a species, we plan to survive this anthropocene age.