thinking trash in the electronic age
author’s note: This post represents the second installment of thinking about e-waste.
We have always been a people that throws things out. Most of the time, what we call “artifacts” is simply the junk of past societies. To be sure, value is in the eyes of the beholder as “one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure.”
But, in thinking about the challenge of e-waste, I got to wondering: what do we no longer need to produce for consumption because of technological advances?
For one thing, the electronic age permits me to have the type of job that I have. I am a “knowledge” worker. I hang out with information, I write things down, and I distribute my thoughts. Technology enables me to dispense my thoughts electronically. Now, there is a much greater volume of thoughts available so there might be a greater number of things coming in print… but with advances like the Kindle, iPad, RSS readers, and so forth, what’s the state of print technology? The print newspaper seems to be fighting regular extinction. So maybe we are moving towards an electronic print industry….
Another thing that I have been thinking about is the whole host of digital media products that are out there. We have nearly said goodbye to film, whether for pictures or movies. mp3 files are also changing how we keep our musical libraries.
Email and phone conversations have rendered letter writing to be a lost art.
So this is my starting list about what technology has enabled us to jettison, but other thoughts of things that we no longer need to produce at volume are strongly invited in the comments.