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The Dutch Repair Cafe Versus the Throwaway Society

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the if-it-ain't-broke dept.

Earth 368

circletimessquare writes "Everyone in the modern world has thrown away at least one thing that was perfectly good except for an easily fixed defect, because it's just easier to buy a new one. In the Netherlands, in the name of social cohesion, and with government and private foundation grants, there is a trend called the Repair Cafe (Dutch). People bring in broken items: a skirt with a hole in it, an iron that no longer steams, and they fix each other's stuff and meet their neighbors. Now that's an idea worth keeping."

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Doesn't work in the US (4, Insightful)

DoubleSandwich (2637131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966441)

When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people. The same is true for Asians and Australians too. And the American people introvert culture isn't a new thing that came with computers - they did this before geeks too. Sitting in front of TV watching mindless shows and eating TV dinners, alone.

One great geeky example about Americans making artificial social walls around them is how quick companies were to replace LAN gaming with online gaming so that you could sit alone and not interact with people. I live in asia and when people play games, they go play them with friends to internet cafes. There's a place near me where there is always young guys gaming together. There's a huge cultural difference between US and the rest of the world.

As the saying goes - "We have the technology, we can build anti-social walls around us!"

Re:Doesn't work in the US (-1, Flamebait)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966487)

is this like the europeans going crazy over soccer and believing nonsense like your national honor hinges on a game?

people in the US like sports but when i was in europe it's like the whole continent shuts down for the world cup

Re:Doesn't work in the US (-1, Flamebait)

DoubleSandwich (2637131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966541)

Yes, Europeans and Asians tend to compete between each other in good-hearted sports. Americans tend to compete with military, guns and killing people. I think you just understood something wrong along the way, but you never know.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966695)

Yes, No one in Europe or Asia ever used force to get their way.

I mean, really? Come on.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966803)

Exactly. That's why there's never been any wars in Europe, and why Americans don't play sports.......

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966833)

Yes, Europeans and Asians tend to compete between each other in good-hearted sports. Americans tend to compete with military, guns and killing people. I think you just understood something wrong along the way, but you never know.

So.....riots, burning cars, smashed business windows, beatings, people crushed under mob feet, broken stadiums, and temporary marshall law are "good-hearted" sports?

Really? Last I checked we tend to compete with Football, Basketball, Baseball(world inspiring sport), Soccer, etc. ad nauseum(too many to list). This isn't to say some of these haven't inspired terrible behavior...they have, and I think that was his point.

Please don't act like you are somehow superior just because you managed to find out how to think like an ignorant southern conservative. Bullshit exists everywhere, and you just proved it. The man made a point about how dedicated Euro fans are, along with some of their rather strange notions about honor being derived from a bunch of overprivileged men kicking a ball around.

Do us all a favor, stick that comment in the closet long enough for you to turn around and view the mirror.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966839)

Good hearted sports where, in the riots following the game, people are killed, cars are burned, and storefronts are destroyed - even if your team wins.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (2)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966977)

you just described what happens when the Yankees beat the Red Sox in Boston

Re:Doesn't work in the US (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966599)

It's not called soccer, it is called football, since you actually have to use your foot to get the ball somewhere else. What you call football is some form of rugby for sissies to afraid for physical contact.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1, Insightful)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966721)

Couldn't you have posted this while I still had modpoints?!?

(and: He is right, it is called Football, and the american football is wussyball compared to e.g. aussie rules)

Re:Doesn't work in the US (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966883)

Wussyball? I'd say brain-damageball...

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967115)

I agree with ya both. I'm American, an I don't get our game of football at all....It's like this hodge-podge of fucking stupid rules to make something incredibly simple way too complex.

A bunch of meatheads throwing a ball around and running into each other at it's base, and all of these complex insane technical rules to govern it. I played in highschool and I never fully understood it like the rest of the jarheads seemed too... I just tackled people :D

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0, Offtopic)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966831)

Have you seen the way those guys barrel into one another in the NFL? That armour stuff is a necessity.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966941)

Have you ever seen rugby? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8v-qZFVYnc

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966967)

Cart leading the horse. They barrel into each other because they have the armor. If you want to reduce long term brain/body damage injuries to Football players you need to take away their pads.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966965)

Association football is called that because it is played on foot, as opposed to polo, which is played on horseback.

Gridiron football derives its name from the fact that the ball was historically 12 inches long.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967133)

That makes perfect sense, so every sport where you use your legs and some kind of projectile should be renamed to football:
-handball: football
-volleyball: football
-tennis: football
-golf: football
-waterpolo: football
-tabletennis: football
-badminton: football
-hockey: football

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966979)

Handegg.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967029)

I believe the game the Americans play is called "Hand Egg".

Seems to make sense.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966693)

is this like the europeans going crazy over soccer and believing nonsense like your national honor hinges on a game?

people in the US like sports but when i was in europe it's like the whole continent shuts down for the world cup

What are you smoking? There are over-crazed Nascar, football and basketball fans all around the US as well. As for everything shutting down during the World Cup, I have no idea what you're talking about because I happen to live in Spain and was here during the last one; everything from shops to public transport continued working as usual even during the final, though obviously some deliriously happy people were setting off firecrackers in the street for hours after the game.

Superbowl? (1)

wijnands (874114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966795)

Isn't that the same thing?

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966903)

Yes... In Europe, your national honor depends on a football (aka soccer) game.
In America, it's only your state or regional honor that depends on a football (aka rugby with pillows) game.
And considering that our states are the size of their nations, it's completely different.

Troll harder, you're giving us Yanks a bad rep.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966537)

One great geeky example about Americans making artificial social walls around them is how quick companies were to replace LAN gaming with online gaming so that you could sit alone and not interact with people.

I'm pretty sure that's not why it was done. It was done because it offers you the ability to play with people in either scenario, no matter how far away they were. You get more people in the game and a wider variety of them.

When you're playing a LAN game in a cafe, you play with your neighbors. The guy across the country can't play with you.

LAN to online-only (5, Insightful)

naroom (1560139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966655)

It was done because it offers you the ability to play with people in either scenario, no matter how far away they were.

No. Local play was replaced by internet play because it was seen as more profitable by the games industry to enforce DRM online.
If it were truly about adding features, LAN / local play would still be enabled on Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 games.

Re:LAN to online-only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966731)

At least LAN works in Minecraft.

Re:LAN to online-only (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966733)

Wrong. Internet gaming arose in spite of the Gaming industry, who latter got behind it. DRM was after that.

Re:LAN to online-only (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966767)

It's OK, his user ID betrays his age. I don't think he was BORN when we first started getting internet gameplay.

Re:LAN to online-only (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966759)

Yep. I'm sure.

Doom had dial-out support because it was more profitable. You're right. You win the prize. ... or not!

Re:LAN to online-only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967005)

Did Doom's dial-out support replace LAN play?
He's talking about more recent games, since removing LAN play (or needing to be online to use it) is somewhat recent.

Re:LAN to online-only (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966917)

This shouldn't be modded up. This is only correct if you ignore anything before, say, 2004. We've had internet gameplay since DOOM. DRM wasn't even a wet dream yet.

Re:LAN to online-only (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967101)

Local play was replaced by internet play because it was seen as more profitable by the games industry to enforce DRM online

Subtle difference but local play wasn't replaced by internet play. They existed side by side for quite a while. Local play and the ability to setup your own server on the internet were dropped for DRM reasons relatively recently. Right around the time I stopped playing a lot of online multi-player games. I don't think consoles are a good example because they never really had LAN games or the ability to use your own server.

Of course if anybody really cared they'd stop supporting those companies and encouraging them. But nobody really does. Too bad 20 years from now no one will get to experience the nostalgia of playing the games of their youth. By then it won't be profitable to keep the servers running. Of course you'll still be able to play things like Quake, Tribes, Unreal, Soldier of Fortune and so on since you can setup your own server for those and play on a LAN or the internet.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966669)

When you're playing a LAN game in a cafe, you play with your neighbors. The guy across the country can't play with you.

The OP is Dutch. There's not much difference between across the cafe and across the country in The Netherlands.

Netherlands vs. West Virginia (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967011)

Yeah, the Netherlands (41543 km^2) could fit in the U.S. state of West Virginia (62755 km^2). Think "across Europe" rather than "across the Netherlands". In the United States, latency between the west and east coasts might kill you. And there are still some areas that aren't populated densely enough to support DSL, cable, or fiber; the round-trip to a geostationary satellite will kill you harder.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966641)

Oh man, that pisses me off so much. Nothing worse than having 4 people in a room gathered around an Xbox, realizing that we can only play games while we hang out if half the people go home and jump online there.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966753)

The US is mostly made up of crap-hole cities where you don't let your children oputside because of the gangs, stepford wives suburbs where the houses are so far from anything resembling a cafe or other public gathering place that you have to drive, or middle of nowhere farming comunities where the population is so low that only one cafe can exist and it's always full of "grandpa Simpson" types.

That's why we're so antisocial.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966829)

When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people.

That last phrase tells me that you don't really know Dutch people. The amount of nederlanders who actually uses drugs is really, really small.

It is NOT part of the national culture to "go to a cafe and get high". Most people are, in fact, really conservative and straight edge. That whole Amsterdam (and other places now) drugs and prostitution thing was only a way to expel drug users and "different people" from smaller cities and neighborhoods. As they have "their own place" now, most citizens (and the police) are not too kind with drug users. It is also not uncommon for people to take matters into their own hands.

It was a smart decision because before all those tolerance laws those things were just like in the US, where they are forbidden but tolerated outside the law. Meaning: honest middle class people had to "forcibly tolerate" idiots from all sorts while rich people were isolated from these issues.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (3, Insightful)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966863)

When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people. The same is true for Asians and Australians too. And the American people introvert culture isn't a new thing that came with computers - they did this before geeks too. Sitting in front of TV watching mindless shows and eating TV dinners, alone

Sounds beautiful, no really. But I live in the Netherlands and you have no idea how wrong you are. For the past 30 years (at least), the Netherlands has been "individualizing" at an alarming rate.

Not at all true (5, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966887)

When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people.

I've lived in America and the Netherlands, Americans do that just as much as the Dutch. Go into any large city and visit bars and restaurants, you'll find them plenty crowded with people socializing.

What is somewhat true is that the Dutch watch less TV, but they do other things around the house too.

People in general are social and like to go out. People with families stay in more because it's harder to go out with children. That does not really change much across cultures.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966909)

Another slash idiot bashing America, go figure, its what makes this site so child like. Anyway, we used to have this. Its what makes me laugh about the green idiots, their generation gave us this throw away society. From appliances to electronics they used to be made to last and easily repaired, but not anymore in the name of greed.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966935)

I think that US official policy is officially against socialism last I checked so this makes good sense in order that they might keep ahold of their cultural identity.

Re:Doesn't work in the US (5, Informative)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967027)

Amurrikunz iz fat n lazy, I kan haz mod points nAo?

Re:Doesn't work in the US (2)

Eil (82413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967071)

That's a nice broad brush you have there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it...

When American population just sits at home watching TV or playing video games, Europeans and especially Dutch tend to spend time together. Sit at cafes getting high, eat at a restaurant and have some fine wine, and socialize with people.

Where exactly did you get the impression that there are no bars, coffee shops, restaurants, user groups, meetups, or hackerspaces in America?

One great geeky example about Americans making artificial social walls around them is how quick companies were to replace LAN gaming with online gaming so that you could sit alone and not interact with people.

A truly dizzying line of reasoning... Just because online games happen to exist does not mean nobody organizes LAN parties anymore. And honestly, how is a LAN party a social event? A bunch of gaming nerds cram themselves into a room to stare at their monitors with headphones on? Please.

Also, your notion that American culture is dominated by introverts is so wrong as to be hilarious. Introverts are routinely shamed simply for being intellectual, creative, shy, or socially awkward. The most popular prime-time sitcom right now in the U.S. is literally nothing but a solid half hour of poking fun at ridiculously stereotyped geek caricatures.

I'd love something like that. (2)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966457)

I'm more than happy to do pc repairs and exchange services with friends, right now one friend helps with mechanical issues with my car and I take care of their computers.

It's a great idea.

Re:I'd love something like that. (1)

germany-runt (950755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966517)

I also use the idea of exchanging services and use it whenever possible. I have had some amazing body work done to my cars just for fixing some simple issues on a few computers.

Re:I'd love something like that. (2)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966573)

Exchanging services is barter, which is subject to taxes. Did you pay your taxes?

Re:I'd love something like that. (4, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966659)

Exchanging services is barter, which is subject to taxes. Did you pay your taxes?

Only idiots would do that.

Re:I'd love something like that. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966791)

How do you tax something without a value?

Sure, he pays his sales tax! 8% of 0 is still 0.

Re:I'd love something like that. (1)

germany-runt (950755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966951)

What is this "tax" thing you speak of?! No cash exchanged so 6% (my state tax) of nothing is still nothing!

Re:I'd love something like that. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967057)

Did you really have to come in and say the exact same thing that I just did?

Re:I'd love something like that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967135)

There may be no cash price, but there is value.
If there's no value, why are you doing it?
Oh, you could say that there is no monetary value, just the social value.
If that's the case why are you fixing things or doing services instead of just hanging around like friends?
Oh yeah, that's right. Because the services do have value.
So technically, yes, that's a taxable transaction.
Now, I doubt you'll need to look over your shoulders for them "revenooers" coming to arrest you for non-payment any more than you have your state tax office coming to you for use taxes on the purchases you made from Amazon.
But still, it is barter and it is subject to taxes.

Re:I'd love something like that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966643)

You lost me at "body work"...

Re:I'd love something like that. (3, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966823)

While I don't exchange services for automotive work (I do my own) I still help out my next door neighbor with some of his yard work (currently putting in a good retaining wall) and in exchange I get access to his phenomenal collection of tools. I have a lot, but things like spring compressors, professional scan tools (much more functionality than even a high end OBDII reader), gear pullers, compression tester, etc that I don't use very often but are essential for some repairs. I also like the things that people put out just after trash day with free signs on them that if they are still around the next trash day get hauled off. That is how I got my mower, snow blower, trimmer, and compressor. None of them worked when I found them but only required relatively minor fixes. The most complicated one was the snow blower as the carb needed a really good cleaning, new fuel hoses, the engine needed all new gaskets, and a new kill switch. The snow blower was $18 in parts to get working and was by far the most expensive. The mower and trimmer needed a carb cleaning, fuel hoses replaced, and new spark plugs. The compressor had a bad switch.

Re:I'd love something like that. (3, Insightful)

GunSheep (982756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966961)

At this point friends and family are the only PC's I work on. They at least understand the concept of returning the favor in some way/shape/form. I stopped doing that for anyone else.

For some definitions of great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39967087)

It sounds like a great place to meet poor people.

Doesn't even need to have anything wrong at all (5, Insightful)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966477)

We throw away perfectly working pieces of tech. Thing accumulate around the house and just become clutter to be picked up and tossed during a spring cleaning. The problem is that newer tech makes it so that almost no one even wants old laptops and such. Then there is the risk that there is something person stuck somewhere inside and you have to spend extra effort clearing it completely to be safe if you want to give it away. I have an old laptop sitting around that I have run some clean up tools on and I'm still not quite ready to put it up on Freecycle. We really need better recycling programs for old Phones, batteries, etc. People are going to just want something new when the new thing is 100x better than the old thing even if the old thing still works.

Re:Doesn't even need to have anything wrong at all (3, Insightful)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966761)

I have a simple solution: Give it away.

I've got a pile of tech-stuff that I no longer need, but instead of throwing it out, I'll give to anyone who wants/needs it.
(was surprised to find someone who had never had a DVD player - well, she does now!)

Re:Doesn't even need to have anything wrong at all (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966919)

I generally keep repairing the older stuff as it's sturdier, but I find there comes a point with many electronic or electrical items where the power consumption is far higher that newer models, and at that point I will break down and replace it. Part of my reasoning for repairing things is that it's cost effective, and sometimes I take things a little far. I re-sharpen disposable utility knife blades.

Improvements to alternatives (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967039)

Complementary to your comment, we have a lot of tech that was created so long ago that it's terribly inefficient and should best be retired. Consider an old machine with an Athlon 1200 CPU, drawing 330 watts of power while an Intel i5-2400 based machine draws only 75 watts. Consider an old hard drive that draws 30 watts to spin at idle, compared to a modern drive that uses 8 watts to do the same, or a SSDD that draws 0.14 watts. Or consider a CRT monitor drawing 120W compared to a newer LCD that draws 22W.

Yes, I get that obviously there are things that people can't afford to replace today, and when repairing them for free is an option, it'll happen. But these old devices still cost them tremendously on their electric bills. I believe the Dutch pay somewhere around $0.40/kWh, meaning that an old PC there would cost over $4 per day to run, compared to a new efficient machine that would cost less than $1 per day. And that new machine would certainly have better performance, more capabilities, and likely better security (not that I want to get into a big debate about it, but running Windows 7 and IE 9 instead of XP and IE 6 would be a big improvement for most home user's security.)

Some working things should be retired.

1st world problem.... (1)

singhulariti (1963000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966495)

"Everyone in the modern world..."

NOT everyone, it's a "1st world" problem, the "consuming" economy problem. SELL MORE.

Quality (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966499)

Things are generally made extremely cheaply these days, and are not designed for repair, so it does make things a bit more difficult than it used to be. In many cases there are tear-down videos and instructions for things available on the internet, so I think this balances out nicely. It's a great chance to learn how things work and teach other as well. I'd really like to see this done in North America, perhaps as a school fund-raising project or something.

Re:Quality (1, Informative)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966805)

Don't forget that you might actually get arrested for repairing something.

Bullshit (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966843)

Come on, stop spreading FUD. Stupid FUD at that, there's nothing you can be arrested for in trying to repair...

Re:Bullshit (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967069)

For your own use, no. But if you sell or even give away something you've repaired, which turns out to be dangerous, at the very least you face civil liability - and possibly criminal negligence, in addition to whatever penalties come from violating safety standards in your jurisdiction. Even if your repair is perfectly safe and to a professional standards, many countries require certification to work on anything using mains electricity, and if you're not certified (Which a hobbyist is unlikely to be) it can still be an offense to give away something you have repaired yourself.

Re:Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966889)

What ?!
Citation needed, please.

Re:Quality (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967047)

Agree on the quality thing but there is still a lot of quality stuff made it is just 3-10x as much as the cheap crap. Tools are where I have had the most experience with this. I will break tools, even the "best ones" like snap-on, because I don't see a problem with putting an 8' steel pipe on the end of a wrench to break a bolt free. The difference is that cheap wrenches and sockets will break when I am just using wrench or ratchet without the pipe, also when good tools fail they don't shatter like the cheap ones do. The good tools also come with a lifetime warranty that doesn't exclude extreme usage while the cheap ones good luck getting a replacement since the company has gone under or changed names even if they have a lifetime warranty. My other big beef is with knife makers it use to be that you could get a really good tool steel pocket knife for $20-$40 now you can still find knives in that price range but they are cheap stainless steel which is either too brittle to not break or too soft to effectively hold an edge. They don't rust but then if you actually took care of your stuff that shouldn't be a problem to begin with.

What happened to basic conditioning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966523)

Repeat after me: Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches.

I tried it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966527)

Brought in a broken slashdot. Nobody would fix it :(

I know a broken mobile company from Finland (2, Insightful)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966535)

The Americans have had a go but just made things worse. Any chance some of this Dutch magic will help?

What an awful looking site (1)

Notlupus (1893060) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966583)

I refuse to browse it for any longer than a second. But I am also man enough to admit I bring my broken clothes to a turkish tailor who fixes them perfectly, I mean you can see the seams and patches, but isn't that what you youngsters are paying extra for anyway? Pre-torn pants?

Ending is Better Than Mending (0)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966603)

Those silly Dutch. Don't they know that the more stitches, the less riches?
No wonder everyone thinks they're weird.

Makerspace as Repair Cafe? (5, Insightful)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966615)

This would be a great idea for a Makerspace trying to attract more people/funding.

You've already got tools and a core of tinkerers that know how to fix stuff -- if you could draw in a broader audience from the community, you could make some extra money selling them drinks and munchies, and possibly convert some people to the hobby.

Only in the West (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966665)

This is a problem that only the heavily industrialized societies have. Travel, discover the world, "get out of your rut, open your mind, there is a whole universe waiting"*. (*Isaac Asimov)

The "throwaway" culture is not the problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966667)

The real problem is with lifecycle sustainability.

If raw material sourcing is sustainable, and disposal is as well, then there is no problem with the "throwaway" culture. The "throwaway" culture frees up repairmen to pursue more useful or enjoyable things by using machines to alleviate their burden.

Technology is a separate issue. As technology gets better and better, why should we spend so much repairing it? The recent advances in reducing power consumption and doing more processing in hardware is a good thing. Getting rid of a several year old computer is like getting a gas guzzling junker off the road.

The ecological aversion to the "throwaway" culture comes from a time where reuse and repair was seen as necessary to the inherent unsustainable sourcing and landfill disposal. Once those problems are addressed we must reexamine our assumptions about the value of reuse and repair.

Cost (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966671)

Sometimes the cost of repairing something easily fixed is higher than just getting a new one. Two examples: at one point in time certain printers were cheaper to buy again with included ink cartridges than getting separate new ink cartridges, and a pocket calculator actually cost less than the batteries that it needed when the originals ran out.

Re:Cost (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966855)

the cost of batteries drives me crazy. I have toys for my kids that I know I paid less for than the cost of replacing the batteries. Then the batteries I buy last only a third of the time that the originals did. I guess having children means you should instantly find a wholesale supply of watch batteries, and hope that you can use 10,000 or so during the first few years.

Re:Cost (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966983)

Yeah, that's what Hong Kong mail order is for. Any domestic per-piece, pre-carded flat cell is going to cost a fortune.

Re:Cost (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966945)

My digital camera (entry level Canon Point & Shoot) had a failed USB port and after asking a few repair places (one hole-in-the-wall place that just did repairs and a couple of high-high-end camera shops that sold the kind of camera gear you would only buy if you were making a living from photography) and they all said it wasnt worth fixing.

Ended up asking for (and getting) a newer better Canon P&S as an xmas present.

On the other hand, if my smartphone phone died, I would do everything possible to get it fixed before I went for a replacement (because a suitable replacement would cost a lot of money)

In the US replacement is cheaper (4, Insightful)

Ameryll (2390886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966681)

It's a sad fact of life that in the U.S. it is often cheaper to replace something than it is to repair it. With electronics you have the added penalty that you're often repairing something that's now slower than the replacement.

A sign of our times

I was babysitting a 5 year old in high school and she had this alphabet book of professions. U = upholsterer. She asked me what that was. I told her it was someone who repaired or replaced the fabric on your couch. She asked me why you didn't throw it out and get a new one. That it didn't even occur to her that someone might want to try to fix something rather than just dump it in a landfill somewhere really struck me.

Re:In the US replacement is cheaper (2)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966875)

I worked with man who had grown up fairly poorly in India. He was absolutely shocked when he had a dent or hole in his garage door, that someone wouldnt come out with a welder and some scrap metal who could do a decent repair of the damage. The only fix available was to throw the entire thing away and replace it. The talent or interest just isnt there in the US.

Re:In the US replacement is cheaper (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966897)

Makes me wonder what they can use when Upholsterers completely out... Urologist and Union Thug is all that comes to mind.

Re:In the US replacement is cheaper (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966995)

Uranium miner?

Re:In the US replacement is cheaper (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967103)

Undertaker, perhaps.

Re:In the US replacement is cheaper (2)

fl!ptop (902193) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966933)

U = upholsterer. She asked me what that was. I told her it was someone who repaired or replaced the fabric on your couch. She asked me why you didn't throw it out and get a new one.

I recently inherited my Dad's couch, which was originally purchased in 1965 and has been reupholstered 4 times. I'll never get rid of it.

Of course, the piece-of-crap "modern" couch my wife bought 7 years ago that I thought was the most uncomfortable thing ever was burned at last year's bonfire party.....

Mass production (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966705)

Creating a new item on an assembly line is generally cheaper than trying to repair it.

Re:Mass production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966971)

But it also uses more natural resources, and trashing the broken item generates waste.

Re:Mass production (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967043)

Creating a new item on an assembly line is generally cheaper than trying to repair it.

Not exactly. If you consider the amount of energy, resources and environmental impact that goes int into producing a toaster:

Steel parts: mine ore, haul ore, melt it (blast furnace), machining
Plastic parts: crude oil, refining, pelletizing, melting, extrusion and molding.

In the end, you need to package and ship everything to a warehouse, then ship it to a store or directly to a customer which takes fuel and produces more greenhouse gas. A simple repair eliminates all of this. People just don't consider the big picture because most of them can't see past the shelf in Walmart.

Nothing new (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966747)

The dutch are insanely thrifty people. Americans and wasteful people in general have a lot to learn from them

No, I'm not dutch.

Something Similar in Germany (3, Informative)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966755)

I remember a slashdotter telling about something similar in germany, where you can come into a shop where the rent you the tools, and you fix the stuff there and then. It also acted as an edutainment, with people coming in to watch and learn.

Re:Something Similar in Germany (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966879)

Its been done here in the USA as well. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of the Car Talk radio show on NPR [wikipedia.org] had (have?) a do-it-yourself garage in Cambridge, Mass. that rents workspace and tools to people who fix their own cars.

Re:Something Similar in Germany (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967007)

That's great and all. If you're within a 10 mile bubble around that specific location, sure.

The US is pretty damn big.

Re:Something Similar in Germany (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967021)

Ah, that's nice, but the thing I remember was less cars and more like take some spare wood, borrow a drill there, screw the pieces together and voila, a cranky stool.

It was about making and repairing "hardware" rather than electric, IIRC.

If only remember the name of the darn shop, I could google it up.

BTW, you Americans just love tinkering with your cars, don't you? :P Like every tv show I see, there is at least one guy with a 60's or 70's car constantly repairing it, why not just sell the damn thing and buy something made this millennium?

(Though I got to admit, those old cars are damn sweet sight, but I, for one, couldn't be bother with the constant repairs, they are too harsh a mistress to please :p)

Some things are easier to repair than others (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966813)

A missing button, a broken vase, a bent prong on a plug - sure. But most of the things we throw out are broken beyond repair. A white shirt with a large coffee stain that won't bleach out is pretty much over and done as a shirt, and can safely be downgraded to "wipe rag." The last pair of jeans I gave up on had an inseam that had split right down the middle. Even with a patch, even with me re-sewing the seam, they were still structurally degraded. Ever have a seam split in public? It's pretty embarrassing. That said, I didn't actually throw the jeans away - I cut the panels free and saved the scraps without holes in them for quilting.

Re:Some things are easier to repair than others (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967025)

You're not throwing them away, so you're already ahead. Wipe rag? How many people would just toss it, and not even consider a wipe rag?

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39966871)

Just shows you that you can get people to do in the name of imaginary thrift if either given a government subsidy, or the opportunity to feel superior to someone else (i.e., Americans.) Better yet, both!

Gets to be nearly impossible (5, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39966915)

Take for instance an electric iron. It might just be clogged up from hard water deposits that could be removed with some solution like CLR or LimeAway. The problem is, in order to get to the parts that are clogged you have to deal with sonic welding, adhesives and fasteners that were designed to be one-way. The only way to disassemble the unit is to break it and glue it back together, which is not very elegant nor safe when dealing with mains current plus heating elements.

Same thing goes for about 90% of small electric appliances today. They are not designed to be repairable.

Most of this is not so much cultural as others have pointed out but it all comes down to the cost of labor. At one time in the US decorative scrollwork in homes was hand-carved. The craftsman doing the work made maybe $0.25 a day which for the time wasn't all that bad but it was by no means extravagant. It would be comparable to what any common laborer would get paid or someone clerking in a store.

Today, to have someone skilled in wood carving come to your home and do some work would be easily $200 an hour. An experienced technician wouldn't be getting that individually, but you can figure a company in the business of appliance repair is going to be charging at least $100 an hour. Which makes a $30 electric iron absurd to even consider repairing - it would cost $30 for someone to spend 20 minutes on it. Even larger appliances begin to reach the point where it makes no sense to repair them simply because of the cost of labor. Why spend $200 to fix a washing machine that cost $250 to replace?

Where things get really confused is in the 1800s and early 1900s the US saw significant immigration from Europe of craftsmen and skilled workers. Someone that spent 20 years making fine furniture would come to the US and could find immediate work basically doing the same sort of thing for at least as much money if not more. Today, we have huge low-skill immigration which skews the wage scale in interesting ways. In some parts of the country it is cheaper to hire more people (immigrant labor) using hand tools to do a job than it is to use power tools or other modern assists with fewer people. This only works in low-skill areas, though. If the US had a huge number of immigrants coming in that were skilled electronics technicians or computer programmers it would be quite different.

What we have now is it is cheaper to hire five people to use hand tools to do landscaping work than one person with a power mower. But it is also cheaper to replace a $800 TV than it is to bring it to a technician to look at it because his labor is incredibly expensive. The US today is a confused mess of labor rates that will end up sorting itself out in the end, but likely as not things will shift to the low end of the scale.

Will the skills fit the demand? (1)

notdotcom.com (1021409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967001)

This seems like a great idea, but does anyone else see the possibility that the repairs will be vastly slanted to a handful of products that are 1) plentiful 2) expensive to replace, and 3) have inexpensive parts?

I can see a cafe that has a line out the door for people want to get their iPhone glass or batteries replaced, or their laptop hard drive swapped out while the person who can repair shoes, sew (a skirt with a hole in it), carve wood, machine parts, or repair a mechanical device (iron which no longer steams) sits reletively idle.

Would never work until we kill all the lawyers... (4, Insightful)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967035)

If you repair some electrical device for someone else, and at some point down the line it starts a fire or electrocutes someone, you could easily be held liable here in the US, whether your repair had anything to do with it or not. And half-assed repairs done by well-meaning but untrained people are just BEGGING for trouble. From the NYT article (emphasis mine):

When Mr. van den Akker put the iron back together, two parts were left over â" no matter, he said, they were probably not that important. He plugged the frayed cord into a socket. A green light went on. Rusty water poured out. Finally, it began to steam.

Actual repair shops carry insurance for such eventualities, but random folks at a "repair cafe" wouldn't.

Rather Have Stuff Repaired by Professionals (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967059)

Hmm, I don't really want to take a chance on having my iron or clothes or computer repaired by my hobbyist neighbor. I'd rather have them repaired correctly by somebody who does those repairs professionally all the time, while also having the side effect of keeping those repair people in business.

id love to spend more time (2)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39967107)

socializing with my friends, but the truth is after two jobs and 14 hours of work im too tired. my second job, customer service, makes me cranky and irritable by the time i get home and honestly ive spent so much time sitting under fluorescent lights and talking to people about their medical bills id rather stay in anyway.
on the weekends i normally get stuck with TPS reporting, and its not like i can duck out of that because im a salaried employee. besides, this is building equity. i hope.
sometimes on holidays i get off, christmas or the occasional tuesday morning im not working at the baltimization plant, i go to this cafe down the street. the cafe i go to has lots of people in it, but the unspoken rule is that we all have to be quiet and we have to drink their coffee to use the wireless for exactly one hour. I mean, nobody is doing any meaningful work at a cafe its all mostly facebook and minecraft but the possibility still exists that someone is working out a spreadsheet on their ipad and so we're all quiet.
wednesday when i go back to work and realize i also picked up a bartending shift to help pay down my college loans and the loan for the dental work i had done, i get a chance to socialize with people that are drunk. so i guess that counts. by 4 am though im still tired.
ive tried planning things with my friends, but they spend most of their time at work too.
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