Getting back to the monotonous, not entitled way of life. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
Technology plays an important role in helping solve technologies problems. There is no way that I am going to use my mortar and pestle to grind my coffee in the morning, but there are some great hand coffee grinders that work rather quickly; make me do a little more work. There are several reasons why physical work is good for us including:
Good for the body: here in the US obesity a major issue, we could use the extra exercise
Good for the mind: work allows the mind to focus and wander, contemplate
Good for the environment: helps us understand the efficiency and waste, good and bad of technology
Provided below is an excerpt which helps give me some voice from the article: Force, Time, and Social Organization in the History of Sociotechnical Systems – Paul N. Edwards
“Infrastructures constitute an artificial environment, channeling and/or reproducing properties of the natural environment which we find most useful and comfortable, providing others which the natural environment cannot, and eliminating features we find dangerous, uncomfortable, or merely inconvenient. In so doing, they simultaneously constitute our experience of the natural environment, as commodity, object of romantic/pastoralist emotions and aesthetic sensibilities, or occasional impediment. They also structure nature as resource, fuel, or ‘raw material,’ which must be shaped and processed by technological means to satisfy human ends.”
The amount of waste in any given household, office, etc is astounding. An example given by A-P Hurd among others is the amount of clean water wasted waiting for the shower to warm up. A solution to this problem is a technology that doesn’t allow the water to start flowing until it has reached a threshold temperature. This is a great solution, but in all likelihood you are still in the shower picking your nose or singing up a storm and wasting plenty more water and then jumping in the shower again when you get home from work. So let’s apply another solution, let’s say that you have some device that blinks when you have been in the shower for two minutes letting you know you’re probably clean, or maybe a device that simply shuts the water off so you’re standing there looking at your eternal timer hoping to get clean before the water goes off; living a life in a video game. To me, these technologies take some of the meaning out of life, distill us into machines, machines incapable of fixing the technology once broken, or at a high cost, and ending up in the waste stream.
What if you had to do a little more work, what if, like the manual coffee grinder you had to pump your water into a tank that simultaneously heated it, working with technology, but as a method rather than an ends. We could probably get the pump to be rather efficient. You could spend five minutes pumping enough water for a three minute shower. Instead of on demand, people may take part in the ritual of bathing that is good for the body, the mind, and the environment. The parts would likely be fixable with anyone who has a wrench, and therefore saving even more from the dump.
For those that don’t want to do the extra work, on demand systems could still be available (and for those who are incapable), but for those capable, make the cost of water higher. This offset in cost would be the incentive rather than the work.
Let’s interact with our resources more than simply paying the bills.