Why is repairing so important?

The Restart Project is all about changing consumer behaviour in the ICT industry, about facilitating the collective learning that will demand hardware and software manufacturers to adhere to open standards, to allow for openness at all levels, to design for durability and compatibility. To look forward with progressive new features, without leaving behind users with slightly older hardware.

Repair is an essential component of our vision. It is instrumental in transforming our obsessions about technology into sustainable technology ecosystems, where owners can claim back control over the very tools at the heart of our digital lives.

Repairing makes the invisible visible: by opening up a device, together we can learn the trade-offs of its design and the manufacturer’s intentions in terms of its durability.

Community-based repairing such as what we do in Restart Parties liberates us from the tyranny of the buy-dispose-buy again. We all know it can’t possibly make sense that it is cheaper to buy a new product, rather than to fix the existing one. And yet, this is what we hear all of the time, all of us: the flash in your digital camera no longer works? Buy a new one, or pay more than the cost of a new camera to change the processor. The screen of your e-reader no longer works? It’s glued to the rest of the device, we’ll just send you another one.

Manufacturer’ reluctance to fix software problems is just as disturbing. The operating system of your device doesn’t allow to open password-protected files? Buy the new device, as we fixed it for it – but we won’t port the software patch to the older device, period. In such cases, repairing becomes jailbreaking a device, liberating it from the cage of proprietary operating systems and extending its usability for its owner.

The Restart Project is about much more than just repair. But repair is key to our collective understanding of the need to change status quo in this industry. And to liberate ourselves from the mantra of “recycling”. Recycling is very trendy these days, it makes us feel good. And yet, it should always be the last resort: recommendable only when reuse, refurbishing, repair have all failed.

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2 thoughts on “Why is repairing so important?

  1. I am not quite sure what this comes under (its not so much repair as extending functionality) but a recent project of mine (on rediscovering my interests in both music and electronics) was to slightly modify a cheaper audio mixer and off the shelf audio equipment to give the functionality of similar equipment used in professional radio studios, such as turning off speakers when the mic fader is put up to stop feedback. It is on my website – I don’t know if its OK to post the direct link and anyway need to update it with the newest Arduino sketch and the full info (though its all fairly basic stuff).

    The Germans do a lot of these mods as well. Many of them can be done without having to even open the mixer and invalidate the guarantee if it is a newer model..

    Alex

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