Track 4.1. iFixit: Critical view to repair strategies


Track 4.1. iFixit: Critical view to repair strategies

Session owner:
Kyle Wiens, iFixit

This session calls for papers which research the phenomena of repair from different angles from practice, product design, consumer behaviour, policy and economical viewpoints including the critical approach towards repair strategies.

-Repairability in unexpected categories: Tractors! Cars! Tablets! Coffee machines! Drones. There is so much room for design innovation.

-EVs! They could be more repairable but they probably won’t because a) software; b) High voltage and lawyers suck. How can we make them awesome repairable Lego-vehicles?

-Software updates. Security is important! Software updates slow down machines to be unuseable. Also, old apps need to run on new phones. This is hard, how do we convince Apple, Microsoft, and Google that it is imperative?

-Is side-loading apps a moral imperative?

-Critical components are sometimes made of low quality material. Components like rubber seals that have limited lifespans. Can we quantify how lame with chemistry? (I’ll pay more for better rubber!) Critical components with low MTBF like bearings on washing machines. (This implicates repairability and longevity)

-How long are parts available?

-What percentage of products have some kind of restrictions on repair? (parts, tools, documentation, software, etc.) How exactly have manufacturer restrictions changed over time? It seems obvious that there are more of these restrictions now than there used to be.

-Consumer attitudes about repair have made manufacturers wake up to it. But how does it work in the other direction? How has manufacturer messaging about repair affected people’s attitudes about repair / willingness to repair—both before and after manufacturers have caved to some repair demands? Let’s look at the psychological impact of ‘warrany void if removed’ stickers.

-How can products be more durable without being less modular? Is modularity vs. durability really a tradeoff?

-How can products be more durable without being less modular? Is modularity vs. durability really a tradeoff?

-Economic impacts of parts pricing. If a product is €100 with a €50 part, how long does it last? How many parts are sold?  If it’s €100 with a €25 part, how many / how long? Which generates more lifetime part revenue?

-US DMCA Section 1201 criminalises some software repair tools. Let’s say you invented a software tool for fixing the optical drives on XBox 360’s, then asked your lawyer if you could publish it. They said no, so you went to work for Meta. What is the economic loss to you? What’s the economic loss to society?  What’s the economic impact on the world?

-What’s the economic impact of repair/refurbishment over recycling? A lot of recyclers would probably benefit from spinning up refurbishment operations, but is there any data investigating that argument?