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Posts Tagged ‘planned obsolescence’

PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 17, 2020

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Why can’t we build anything of substance anymore?

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Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium was opened in 1970. At the time, it was considered “state-of-the-art” and easily accommodated two professional teams as their home, the Cincinnati Reds (MLB) and Bengals (NFL). I lived in Cincinnati at the time and vividly recall the sales pitch presented the public. Not only would the stadium be large and spacious with ample parking, the structure would also be easy to maintain and modify to accommodate future considerations. For example, it was claimed the roof could be enclosed, thereby offering an indoor stadium safe from inclement weather. Guess what? The roof was never added, nor much of anything else. Although the stadium was structurally fine and in good shape, it was closed in 2002 and replaced by two separate stadiums, one for baseball and another for football, both at considerable expense to the taxpayer. Whereas Riverfront lasted just 32 years, its predecessor, Crosley Field, a stadium which was certainly no engineering marvel, lasted 58 years. The point is, Riverfront was an excellent example of planned obsolescence. Architects knew the stadium would be demolished and replaced before a nickel would ever be spent on its modification.

We see other examples of planned obsolescence just about everywhere: in our automobiles, where everything expires when the warranty times out; in our homes, which require constant upkeep, and; most noticeably in our electronic devices, particularly computers and cell phones which seem to be designed to self-destruct in about two years. Maybe we don’t know how to design things to last anymore, but I tend to believe the consumers have been conditioned to think with a disposable mentality. We no longer try to build anything for the future, just for the almighty buck. It’s no small wonder “quick and dirty” has replaced craftsmanship in the workplace.

Although we like to brag about our technology, I seriously doubt we could build anything as durable as the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great wall of China, Stonehenge, the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Taj Mahal of India. Even the great Hoover Dam, the Empire State Building, and the Golden Gate Bridge are under 90 years of age (the Brooklyn Bridge though is 136 years old). Is it because we lack the knowledge to build things to last? No, we simply lack the desire to do so as it is all about economics.

The classic 1951 comedy, “The Man in the White Suit,” starring Alec Guinness, drives this point forcefully home. Guiness plays a researcher at a textile mill who invents a new type of thread that is indestructible and repels dirt. When both the mill’s managers and the union workers realize Guiness’ invention would ultimately cost them money in the long run (as people would not need to constantly buy new clothing), they go out of their way to undermine his discovery and sabotage his work. It’s an excellent movie, and I particularly liked the ending.

Interestingly, even our movies are not meant to last as they are remade every few years; consider, for example, “Mutiny on the Bounty” which was made into motion pictures in 1916, 1933, 1935, 1962, and 1984. Even our movies and music are not meant to stand the test of time.

I don’t know about you, but it bothers me that we lack the ability to build anything of substance anymore. It sure doesn’t instill any confidence in our civilization. As an aside, wouldn’t it be funny if we learned that Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park, the two stadiums replacing Riverfront, were designed complete with places to plant dynamite charges to implode the structures at the end of their usefulness? I’m betting by 2030, the City of Cincinnati will pull the trigger on both stadiums. Boom! I guess it’s “easy come, easy go” (with the taxpayer picking up the tab).

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also do not forget my books, “How to Run a Nonprofit” and “Tim’s Senior Moments”, both available in Printed and eBook form.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2020 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

PARKINSON’S LAW IN I.T.

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 24, 2010

Ever wonder why our computers typically last no more than three years? Many contend it is because of the fast pace of technological advancements. Maybe. But I tend to believe there is a little more to it than just that, namely “Parkinson’s Law.” For those of you who may have forgotten, “Parkinson’s Law” was devised by C. Northcote Parkinson, noted British historian and author. His original book, “Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress,” was introduced in 1958 and was a top-selling management book for a number of years (it is still sold today). The book was based on his experience with the British Civil Service. Among his key observation’s was that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Basically, he suggests that people make work in order to rationalize their employment. Consequently, managers create bureaucracies and superfluous work to justify their existence, not because it is really needed.

As an aside, CEO’s clearly understood Parkinson’s Law, which became the driving force behind the flattening of corporations in the 1990’s, such as General Electric under Jack Welch’s reign.

Whereas Parkinson was primarily concerned with people, his law is equally applicable to machines, particularly computers; for example, Parkinson’s Law can be applied to computing in terms of “Data expands to fill the space available for storage.” Years ago I had a Compaq Presario computer with 50mb of disk space, which I considered substantial at the time. I never dreamt I would be able to fill up the hard drive. But, of course, I did (as well as other PC’s I have had over the years). My current PC has a hard drive with a capacity of 224gb and though I’m a long way from filling it up, inevitably I know I will for two reasons: I now feel more comfortable with downloading large multimedia files (MP3, AVI, WMV, etc.), PDF files, data base files, and other larger file formats, and; Second, because developers have become sloppy in programming.

Back when memory and disk space were at a premium, there was great concern over the efficient use of computer resources. Program code was written very tightly and consideration was given to file size. For example, establishing a simple file index was scrutinized carefully. But as the computer capacity grew and hardware prices declined, developers became less interested in efficient programming. To illustrate, not too long ago packaged software installation programs were delivered on 3.5″ diskettes. Today, it is not uncommon to use multiple CD’s to install the same products. This means that as computer hardware capacity increases, software becomes more bloated. This is but one example of Parkinson’s Law as applied in computing.

As another example, let’s consider data transmission lines as used in networking. It doesn’t seem long ago we were using 14.4 baud modems over telephone lines. I remember when we doubled the speed to 28.8 and then 56.4. It seemed like the sky was the limit with every increase. But eventually performance seemed to slow to a crawl. Was it because the technology was aging or was it because our web pages were becoming bigger and more complicated requiring greater data volume over the lines? Frankly, it was the latter. Today, DSL and cable are commonplace in households as well as in business and “dial-up” is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. But as data volume increases with the number of subscribers, will we ever hit a wall in terms of capacity with DSL and cable? Undoubtedly. Again, more due to Parkinson’s Law then anything else.

Make no mistake, computer hardware and software vendors are acutely aware of the role of Parkinson’s Law. It is what allows them to build-in planned obsolescence into their products. As consumers reach capacity, they can either add additional capacity or, more likely, purchase new computers.

There is undoubtedly an incestuous relationship between hardware and software vendors. Hardware enhancements are primarily implemented to increase capacity in order to overcome software inefficiencies, and software vendors make their products more bloated as hardware enhancements are introduced. To illustrate the point, is it a coincidence that every major release of Windows requires additional hardware support? Hardly. This is done more by design than by accident.

Parkinson’s Law is just as much a part of computer technology as it is in the corporate world. But what would happen if we decided to “flatten” computer technology in the same manner that Jack Welch flattened G.E.? Keep in mind, Welch did so to eliminate bureaucracy and force his workers to become more efficient and focus on the true problems at hand. By flattening the “bloatware” we would probably get a lot more mileage out of our computers. But I guess that wouldn’t be good for selling computers (or the economy).

I guess Parkinson’s Law and the vicious circle of computing will be with us for quite some time.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Computers, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 12, 2010

Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium was opened in 1970. At the time, it was considered “state-of-the-art” and easily accommodated two professional teams as their home, the Cincinnati Reds (MLB) and Bengals (NFL). I lived in Cincinnati at the time and vividly remember the sales pitch presented to the public. Not only would the stadium be large and spacious with ample parking, the structure would also be easy to maintain and modify to accommodate future considerations. For example, it was claimed the roof could be enclosed, thereby offering an indoor stadium safe from inclement weather. Guess what? The roof was never added, nor much of anything else. Although the stadium was structurally fine and in good shape, it was closed in 2002 and replaced by two separate stadiums, one for baseball and another for football, both at considerable expense to the taxpayer. Whereas Riverfront lasted just 32 years, its predecessor, Crosley Field, a stadium which was certainly no engineering marvel, lasted 58 years. The point is, Riverfront was an excellent example of planned obsolescence. Architects knew the stadium would be demolished and replaced before a nickel would ever be spent on its modification.

We see other examples of planned obsolescence just about everywhere: in our automobiles, where everything expires when the warranty times out; in our homes, which require constant upkeep, and; most noticeably in our electronic devices, particularly computers and cell phones which seem to be designed to self-destruct in about two years. Maybe we don’t know how to design things to last anymore, but I tend to believe the consumers have been conditioned to think with a disposable mentality. We no longer try to build anything for the future, just for the almighty buck. It’s no small wonder “quick and dirty” has replaced craftsmanship in the workplace.

Although we like to brag about our technology, I seriously doubt we could build anything as durable as the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great wall of China, Stonehenge, the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the Taj Mahal of India. Even the great Hoover Dam, the Empire State Building, and the Golden Gate Bridge are under 80 years of age (the Brooklyn Bridge though is 126 years old). Is it because we lack the knowledge to build things to last? No, we simply lack the desire to do so as it is all about economics.

The classic 1951 comedy, “The Man in the White Suit,” starring Alec Guinness, drives this point forcefully home. Guiness plays a researcher at a textile mill who invents a new type of thread that is indestructible and repels dirt. When both the mill’s managers and the union workers realize Guiness’ invention would ultimately cost them money in the long run (as people would not need to constantly buy new clothing), they go out of their way to undermine his discovery and sabotage his work. It’s an excellent movie, and I particularly liked the ending.

Interestingly, even our movies are not meant to last as they are remade every few years; consider, for example, “Mutiny on the Bounty” which was made into motion pictures in 1916, 1933, 1935, 1962, and 1984. Even our movies and music are not meant to stand the test of time.

I don’t know about you, but it bothers me that we lack the ability to build anything of substance anymore. It sure doesn’t instill any confidence in our civilization. As an aside, wouldn’t it be funny if we learned that Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park, the two stadiums replacing Riverfront, were designed complete with places to plant dynamite charges to implode the structures at the end of their usefulness? I’m betting by 2030, the City of Cincinnati will pull the trigger on both stadiums. Boom! I guess it’s “easy come, easy go” (with the taxpayer picking up the tab).

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see: http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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