In 2015, tractor manufacturer John Deere made waves for sending its dealers a letter asserting that when farmers repaired their own John Deere equipment, what they were really doing was violating US copyright law. At the time, this came as news to a lot of farmers: as a characteristically self-sufficient community, they’d always repaired their equipment on their own. How did putting a computer on a tractor change this?
Before disposability, before planned obsolescence, and even before mass production really entered its modern phase, there reined a different kind of material relation with broken objects. Waste historian Susan Strasser calls this ethos “stewardship,” characterized by handwork, repair, and making do: “We are not likely to revive the stewardship of objects and materials, formed in […]
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This post originally appeared on Wired Opinion 06.18.13. Madison Sheffield cracks open a toaster oven, jams her hand inside, then turns on the power. It looks like she’s about to electrocute herself, but she seems unfazed. “Thermostat or heating element?” Sheffield mutters, yanking on wires and poking around with a multimeter. “Why isn’t this working?” […]
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