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Countering The Throwaway Mentality With The Right To Repair – Part 1

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

You don’t truly own something that you can’t get into to modify or repair.
–Gathered from many wise sages over the years (especially the past 10)

I’ve got an iPhone 4S that’s a few years old and I still love it. I like the size, the feel, and I’ve purchased a number of accessories designed specifically for it. I’ve also rescued it from dropping it in water, and know how to replace the battery, as well as the glass back and the front screen. These self-repairs are officially no-no’s according to Apple, and aren’t easy, but knowing how to repair the phone I still really like and keeping it 100% functional, I intend to hold onto it until something happens that I can’t resolve, such as a surface mount component failure.

I’m probably not like a lot of consumers, so I don’t necessarily constantly need the latest and greatest. I’d rather maintain and repair what I have as long as I can. After all, I view my phone, cameras, and computers as tools that should be made to last, and not precious possessions on the one hand, or mere throwaway items on the other.

My journey to fixing my own stuff started a number of years ago with an excellent resource call iFixit – a free online series of repair manual for tinkering with thousands of products. The goal of iFixit was to teach virtually anyone how to fix the stuff they own — ranging from laptops to snowboards to toys to cell phones. In other words, iFixit is part of a global network of “fixers” trying to make the stuff they own last as long as possible.

Makers put things together; fixers take them apart and rebuild them. Tinkerers are a little bit of both, and are much more than just consumers — they are participants in the things we make, own, and fix.

This might sound great, but over the years, I have found that this participation — tinkering with products made by others — puts both makers and fixers at odds with manufacturers.

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