Build to Last

September 15, 2020 by Ishaan Koratkar

The biggest reason why manufacturers should make things last is because it helps the enviorment. Less of a carbon footprint, and less physical waste. That’s a good reason, but another one that comes to mind is the fact that people end up throwing out perfectly good devices. Computers are a good example. The one I’m writing this on is over a year old, the processor and ram even older and they were at the bottom of the line when they came out. And I can do basically everything without the fans even spinning up. It’s Moore’s law (1). The lowest end devices give you a good experience years later, often not much worse as the high end devices that came out years earlier.

In America, we have this culture of waste. There’s always a presure to buy new things as soon as your current one doesn’t shimmer all the same, and this rings truest for computers. But we always end up better off building things that last. Apple does a great job at making great products that last well, even if they constantly pressure you to buy their new one. Good prouducts last many years. And you often build an emotional connection to the things that do. My mom’s car is seven years old at the time of writing, and even though I don’t own the car, I have this sort of bond to it. The car was built to last, and it’s barely had any problems in the years it’s been around. Keeping things for a long time also builds this kind of inertia. Once you’ve owned something so long, you couldn’t bear but the thought of getting rid of it.

The amount of time something will last is a great heuristic for purchasing things and building them all the same. If you’re going to write something that will only be relavant for the next few weeks, then why bother? But if your writing will be readable for millennia, like the Tao Te Ching, that’s much different. Good things are timeless. Timeless things, by the process of elimination, must be good to have lasted so long.

Thanks to Aditya Koratkar for reading drafts of this.

(1) Moore’s law refers to the doubling of tranistors and decrease in the price of transistors as time goes on. It’s important here, because really old computing and bottom of the line devices now often proove to last a long time.

2020/09/15 by Ishaan Koratkar