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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

New 'story of Stuff' Video Reminds ­S to Think Twice Before Buying New Gadgets

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Story of Electronics

The black and white drawings in the Web video "The Story of Electronics" have been seen by almost 200,000 viewers on YouTube.

In the opening moments of the new Web video "The Story of Electronics," I found myself nodding in recognition as host Annie Leonard held up a tangled mess of electronic gadget chargers. Lurking in my basement at home is a similar monstrosity of unused chargers that has grown ever larger as various devices have come and gone.

But I hadn't given that sad collection of neglected wires much thought until Leonard pointed out something that should have been obvious. That clump of wires is no accident; it's intentional. It's emblematic of the wasteful mentality that drives the electronics industry to design products to quickly become obsolete.

Combine that design philosophy with our lust for the latest bright, shiny new thing, and the result is a startling increase in electronic waste that is contributing to health and environmental problems around the world.

"It's not just bad luck," Leonard says in the video. "It's bad design. I call it 'design for the dump.' "

From San Jose Mercury News
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