Oct 13

Unit Three Outline

I’ve changed topics and am now focusing on the shift in manufacturing of consumer goods from durables to disposables.  I want to explore several shifts in practices and attitudes, particularly among consumers, as well as changes in technology that have caused this shift.  Finally, I hope to determine whether the decrease in many products’ lifespans indicates a decline in quality, or is merely the result of more rapid growth and shifts in purchasers’ habits.

I plan to divide the paper into subsections, namely between changes in the practices of companies and manufacturers and those of consumers.  The paper will address these issues as they relate to the American market and its development from the post-WWII era to the present.

  • Introduction: Shift in manufacturing from consumer durables to disposables
    • Average lifetime of common products; products that were popular post WWII
  • Scarcity of WWII made consumers appreciate quality, long lifespan
  • Manufacturing shift from post-war boom in U.S. to foreign made
    • Americans now lack technical skills necessary to bring manufacturing back to U.S.
  • Shift in type of products demanded
    • New technology needs to be replaced more frequently because of increased growth (exponential development of technology)
  • Planned obsolescence
    • Forces consumers to upgrade more frequently
    • New products made incompatible with old
  • Warranties decreased
  • Shift in marketing: focus on newest models
    • Cars kept for a few years instead of a decade; leased instead of purchased
    • Electronics require frequent updating or replacing
  • Conclusion

Oct 13

Unit Three Concepts and TED

Technological progress has changed many aspects of everyday life.  However, the paradigm that I am interested in examining is not technology itself, but the nature of interaction and socialization as it relates to technology.  Generally speaking, we have shifted away from a time when the communication standard was face-to-face.  With successive innovations, contacting one another has become increasingly easier.  However, it has also become less intimate and impersonal.

Particularly with the advent of the internet, human interactions have become more frequent but less meaningful.  Communicating via newer means of technology often prevents individuals from connecting on more than a superficial level or forming lasting bonds.  While it certainly has its advantages, technology has become a social hindrance when relied too heavily upon, with its effects clear in homes, communities, and businesses.  Furthermore, in areas where technology is not as readily available, social interaction remains largely the same as it once was everywhere.

Another social shift has occurred in the post-WWII generations; each has become more focused on the self and individual.  While those who endured the Second World War had struggled and fought together (and had ancestors who had endured similarly bleak circumstances), later generations slowly lost touch with the impact of this conflict.  The strong sense of national unity was gradually forgotten and, without any similar event in later years, has not returned.

The emphasis on one’s self can be seen in many areas.  Many politicians, no longer forced to work together by circumstance, now focus on public image and pleasing sponsors.  For the same reason, international relations have also lost the sense of greater good that came with reliance on foreign allies.  While every household sacrificed to support the war effort, modern households are usually centered on their own success.  Communal well-being is seldom a priority.

In regards to TED, one of my personal favorites is a talk by Sir Ken Robinson on the nature of education.  He has a very effective style of delivery and uses dry humor to address a serious topic.

TED – Ken Robinson


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