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We are not there yet by a long chalk, but I foresee that 'consumers' will have to take more responsibility for the products that are created for them. Demand-driven design.

That responsibility would be for the lifecycle sustainability of production, use and disposal, the product development and specification, and feature v price efficiency.

This won't be a free-for-all of misinformation. I predict the emergence of  'Living Lab' online expert organizations that theoretically develop and specify products using surveys of reader/members to refine these researches. These reader/members are then the potentially loyal audience for the product which is put out to manufacturing tender.

This is already happening to some extent. R&D divisions of large multinationals that come up with potential products deemed outside the product/marketing scope of the company, are being offered online to other companies. Some manufacturers are also getting rid of their R&D divisions and using specialist subcontractors.

Don't ask me for details of how exactly it would work - but it will ;-)

Consumers have to become responsible for what they consume.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:51:18 AM EST
Sven Triloqvist:
but I foresee that 'consumers' will have to take more responsibility for the products that are created for them. Demand-driven design.

the internet can make this a lot easier. as it is if i want advice on any new item i intend to buy, i can google consumer reports, forums etc on the item and see others' reviews before deciding. of course review sites like engadget add value through being very on the ball and funny to boot.

this process can be simplified, and made less the somewhat lumpy, haphazard process it is now.

i recently bought a pre-amp/compressor, and my first request for advice was from a real meatworld person, whose opinion (and taste) i respect, then came the internet searching.

the consumer cannot have too much info before sending her money winging off.

in the future i hope to be able to chose what toys i buy for grandkids by checking into all aspects of the company providing the toys, from their factory safety, attitude to unions, quality control, donations to political parties, environment/recycling awareness etc.

all at one easily searchable, ad-free, unbiased databank, no more wild-google-chase!

this would also benefit the movement to apply political pressure through boycott, a tool that may be one of the last left in the citizens' box.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:05:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be one of the few tools left, but it will become a mighty one imo. There are carrot versions and stick versions. Giving or taking away custom.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Mar 10th, 2009 at 05:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm....idea melds with idea. Good one.

But how is it viable 'ad-free'? Are you willing to make a micro-payment for this? Do you need to also have a review of whether the product works or now, or is that done somewhere else?

Would you not have bought the pre-amp/compressor if you found that they did not have some of the click-marks that you consider important?

I recently choose a hosting service. Yesterday I ran across another company that was twice as expensive, maybe a little more, for essentially the same service but they have tweaked their service to be significantly carbon-neutral. Would I have paid more for that?

I'll tell you what. I'll make that database, and get it online in the next couple months. Then I'll let the companies speak for themselves and fill it in. Would that work for you? There will be other ads on the site, since it is a news magazine (of sorts.)

What other criteria? How deep? Like, they get their parts from many sources, and things are assembled here and there and everywhere. You want to know about each factory? What if it is made in Israel? You want to know if the factory hires Palestinians? You want to know the political contributions of the out-sourced groups?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
But how is it viable 'ad-free'? Are you willing to make a micro-payment for this? Do you need to also have a review of whether the product works or now, or is that done somewhere else?

good q... on instinct, i'd say don't put ads, but it has to wipe its own face somehow, so i guess micropayments/donations would be the way to go.

there should be a 'good housekeeping/consumer reports' type rating for products and services that took all the factors into account. as for the product working, well yes!

could you put in the name of the toaster manufacturer and find out instantly that it only toasted one side? pretty long shot... eventually maybe.

Would you not have bought the pre-amp/compressor if you found that they did not have some of the click-marks that you consider important?

if i'd seen there was a lot of conflicted reviews, i'd deduce that the compressor has a lot of 'character' and was only for fans of that particular sound, if the reviews were more uniform, that the product was so good it fit with many peoples' tastes.

I recently choose a hosting service. Yesterday I ran across another company that was twice as expensive, maybe a little more, for essentially the same service but they have tweaked their service to be significantly carbon-neutral. Would I have paid more for that?

dunno, would you? we all try to slant our purchases towards greener when we can, and sometimes we can better afford the extra premium, other times not.

meanwhile we can try to affect society to organise itself better so brown unrefined rice costs less than factory polished, iow that prices reflect ecological realties more, and less the economy of scale, ie that the white rice factory is bigger, therefore can afford to pump out product that has a bigger footprint for a lower price. 'efficiency' is questionable when this is the case.

puchasing organic food is a good example, because like all 'right livelihood' transactions, it goes much further than just my bellyful, influencing how much clean air and water there is left, and farmers doing the extra work to respect the land, encouraging them to stay in business.

I'll tell you what. I'll make that database, and get it online in the next couple months. Then I'll let the companies speak for themselves and fill it in. Would that work for you? There will be other ads on the site, since it is a news magazine (of sorts.)

that's cool! i think that would be a good step in the right direction. for sure a magazine would be more fun that a raw database of stats to see how many people had bought wang dong toasters and hurled them cursing into the landfill...

What other criteria? How deep? Like, they get their parts from many sources, and things are assembled here and there and everywhere. You want to know about each factory? What if it is made in Israel? You want to know if the factory hires Palestinians? You want to know the political contributions of the out-sourced groups?

sure, why not? transparency in practice.

some folks i know are boycotting israeli avocados etc, and i have been asking them, 'how do you know if you're not immiserating some arab farmer trying to make an honest living?

we need more info, the more the merrier...

passes back baton...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK; baton taken.

I am quite excited about the potential of this site, and adding this will be an asset.

I have another site to get up and going, but it is using all the same tools, so the learning curve will be less.

I would say, 2 months and it will be in flower.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow~! You got a '1' from Humbug.

Was that for the Israeli / Gaza comment?

Shouldn't I have gotten one as well? I had clearly set you up such that there was no other remark that a logical, sane and caring person could make.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 08:45:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although I am quite dis-abused of the idea that the consumer generally knows what they want, I tend to think there are some mechanism for what you are talking about...or will be.

It somewhat comes back to marketing though, doesn't it? One would have to educate the market on potentials, educate them on the balance of time and cost to production, make them able to actually describe what they would pay for.

Would asdf pay for a more expensive toaster. Would we feel as if we were getting ripped off if the only toasters cost 100€, and there were no 30€  (built-to-break) toasters there to compare them to?

The internet makes a large world small enough to reach the aficionados of some idea. It can change the way a project is financed.

I don't know either. Lots of tangents to the thoughts, some that lead to obscure ideas that were tried successfully but were undupliacatable.

The cool stuff comes because someone sees something and says "I bet I could get it to do 'that'", or, of course, they steal an idea thinking they can make it cheaper or faster to market. So many variables.

Contrary to the outreach idea is the problem of a simple idea that needs to be timed right. A product that I am working on now is just combining something that is out there now, modernizing it, combining it with something else that is out there commercially and in the public domain and tossing a salad on the back end so that it fits into a market. If exposed to early, any number of companies can come up with it long before our 'weekend engineers' could get it out.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 04:25:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right that marketing is one big problem. I fight every day in a way that I didn't when I was in the middle of my career. One, because I know so much more now, and two, because I am often the oldest in the room and I am 'allowed' to say the unsayable. Or so I think ;-)

The third reason is that the whole system of consumerism has now been exposed as unsustainable. But that not everyone gets it yet.

The customer is not always right. The customer is often excruciatingly stupid.

The conflict in all this complexity is between individual rights and social rights. Or rather between between the effects of a single purchase and a million purchases. What people don't think about is what happens if everyone does as they do - even if they have the right to do it. For example, a family might buy a giant plasma TV. They can afford it, and they can afford the extra energy payments. But a plasma TV can easily use 7 or 8 times more electricity than an old cathode ray TV. In Finland, we would need another nuclear reactor if every home bought one.

One bit of dropped rubbish on the streets is a minor problem, easily dealt with. If everyone drops their rubbish on the streets it becomes a huge problem with social consequences beyond the logistics of disposing of  it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
For example, a family might buy a giant plasma TV. They can afford it, and they can afford the extra energy payments. But a plasma TV can easily use 7 or 8 times more electricity than an old cathode ray TV. In Finland, we would need another nuclear reactor if every home bought one.

yeah but think of how much less they're driving around to the cinema now they can enjoy HD at home!

less eyestrain, less doctor visits.

:)

if you can run your 600W whisk off a panel, why not yer plasma off a few more?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many TVs on for 7 hrs a day = over 4 kW = say 300 days a year = 1200 kW annually.

1200 kW is a lot of pedaling ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:59:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
only on cloudy days, surely?

wassamatta your hamsters, the vodka turbo not working?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:30:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I am still working on my giant interior wheel that you exercise within and power your home.

The problem that I have calculated is that hamster walking leaves no time for abusing the TV, thus removing the reason for hamster walking in the first place ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:38:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
perhaps you've just reached peak hamster.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:06:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
Well I am still working on my giant interior wheel that you exercise within and power your home.

it's all in the gearing, lube and bearings, i want one that you apply about 5g. pressure in the morning and the holographic flywheels do the rest.

Sven Triloqvist:

The problem that I have calculated is that hamster walking leaves no time for abusing the TV, thus removing the reason for hamster walking in the first place ;-)

so you take the hamsters walking in finland?

i was visualising them spinning their turbines of fortune, sucking on fortified protein drinks.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 05:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
his plan is really to set up a mass wheel power station on Hamstered heath ;)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:07:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, must be similar to the tone wheel generator on Hamster organs... :)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 07:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhas because people have abused marketing in the past, or perhaps because their previous version was a sledgehammer approach that they thing it is too subtle, but people don't get the concept.

Don't give me any of that 'till the field crap, just get me some sold products."

But I don't know about the death of consumerism. Perhaps abusive consumerism and debt driven consumerism, but people are going to get hip to buying an OLED TV and heat pump device that knock off a significant portion of their electricity bill.

Jobs are still not going to be where the people are, but mass transit ain't gonna arrive for a lot longer then they can wait for solutions. Cars will be sold, but people will choose more efficient ones and stop buying for status.

All the bulb in the world are in the process of being replaced.

Someone will invent the great ApartmentHydroponicsTM kit and people will have to buy it to get more energy out of their garden than they put in.

Even something like replacing 20.000 soldiers with 20,000 engineers in Afghanistan and 5 hotspots in Africa will create consumers.

On your rubbish point, isn't it something to be in a different culture and watch their personal rubbish habits? But it reminds me of the anti-PC-ness of the right wing argument against climate change. They're all like, Oh man, not that PC stuff about global warming, don't you know that we're just in a natural cyclo-millennial heat cycle? and I'm all like, dude, forget all that...if I were to throw some trash into your yard every day as I walked by, how long until you got upset about it...and how is that different than the amount of gasses that I am tossing into the air as I drive by your place?


Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:44:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
Would we feel as if we were getting ripped off if the only toasters cost 100€, and there were no 30€  (built-to-break) toasters there to compare them to?

split the difference...the €50 toaster that lasts 20 years, (heck why not 50 or 100?) is made of recyclable materials, and whose production company hasn't had a sheaf of lawsuits complaining the thing caught fire and burned down the teepee.

oh yes and for those spoilt, fussy folks, that it toasted both sides!

at once...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 06:19:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a:

Products with longevity already exist, but they cost much more than consumer disposables. So the products and the brands are reserved for the middle classes, where they're as much about status and consumer narcissism as function.

A Dualit can cost up to £200, which is more than most people want to pay for a toaster, even if it's likely to last a long time.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 09:11:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good snag. I have met the founder of this company and have looked at his product at conventions and the like.

Something like this, in any field, made to a much higher build standard, with better components and support, has to cost more because the market isn't as large but the internal costs will be a higher percentage of the income.

For example, marketing costs will be the same to introduce this in the Hamburg show as Phillips pays for introducing a 30€ version.

Yet, they both might be made in the same factory in China~!

So, the Dualit lasts two decades and the Phillips lasts two years. I pay 30 x 10 and loss on the deal. But I don't have the 200 now.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 02:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the landrover of toasters, huh?

good, someones's already there, now let's figure out how to make it the same quality for cheaper (assuming we all need toasters), without compromising quality. in other words, is the maker making an 'unreasonable' profit, say because he's the first (or only) fish in that niche-pond?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 07:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if he is making an unreasonable profit, though he does have a little flat and boat in the south of france. Anyone who keeps people employed and goes through the headache of keeping a quality company viable should get some rewards (is my view as head of the Arbitrary Remuneration and Knitting Committee.)

To get it cheaper in price, one would have to make an order of magnitude more. And perhaps one could cut some corners like stamping out and welding the metal instead of what they do now, or using a cheaper etch.

At a certain point, it becomes a different company which doesn't really know how to design and market that product and which might fail if it tries.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 at 08:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
R&D divisions of large multinationals that come up with potential products deemed outside the product/marketing scope of the company... Some manufacturers are also getting rid of their R&D divisions and using specialist subcontractors.
Are you thinking of corporate skunk works? Such work groups are not unusual. Neither are they ubiquitous. Consultants have recommended the creation of such a group either to test internal R&D efficacy/entrenchment, compete with internal R&D output, or liason with SMERD suppliers. OTOH, Web 2.0 evangelism is a more cost effective method of harvesting product innovation. Individuals are easily solicited to participate in "competitions," then bought off.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Mar 11th, 2009 at 08:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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