The infinite substitutability of inputs is one stupid neoclassical economic idea that urgently needs revising – at least, according to ecological economists and their fellow travellers. To that end,the Story of Electronics (embedded below the fold) is an excellent addition in Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff series. Only a couple of weeks after its release, it’s actually already having an effect in the US.
It’s a neat piece of ethnography in the tradition of The Social Life of Things combined with a call to minimize ‘externalities’ of electronics in a neat appropriation of the Michael Porter Environmental Regulation and Competitiveness thesis. It’s also a nice counterpoint to the ‘Collaborative Consumption‘ meme which often means more inflexible, corporate friendly designs that explicitly bring people together (‘Community is the brand’), rather than promoting flexibility and modularity.
Any readers know how e-waste programs are going in Australia? Or are our CRTs ending up being pryed apart by poorly protected workers in some forgotten corner of Asia too? If so, I’d be interested to know if any neoclassical economic types would regard this as efficient