Here I am, falling victim to the blogging stereotype. Update for a month; forget; repeat. Hundreds of reasons, no excuses, everybody wang chung tonight. Be back soon. Ish.
I am challenging myself to buy only quality, durable goods. This plan has been in action for some time, but has mostly served to paralyze my impulse purchases in favor of slightly-more-planned impulse purchases. The reasons for this challenge are many, but there are a few simple truths that drive it.
1. The majority of products are too accessible, leading you to purchase before you fully consider the necessity of a given item.
2. The majority of products are not as well made as we expect them to be, and don’t last as long as we feel they should, or simply don’t work or fit as well as they ought to.
3. The economic, environmental, and social impact of cheap, disposable goods in place of reasonably-priced, durable goods is greater all the time. We’re running out of landfill space, we’re spending more (over time) on replacing these disposable goods, and we (as Americans, generally) are exploiting near-slave labor in more countries than most Americans could name.
Part of this challenge is rooted in a ‘Buy US-made” bias that I’ve carried most of my life. Over the past few years, I bought in to the global economy idea a little more than I would have preferred, and compromised a value that my parents imparted on me when I was young. It’s time to end that compromise.
In some ways, I consider this to be rooted in the same philosophical place as my veganism –I simply can’t ignore what I know to be profoundly wrong any longer. I will make purchases that will enable me to make fewer purchases over the remainder of my life, thus saving money and leading to a better standard of living. I will commit the money I do spend to US manufacturers when possible, and purchase from independent stores when appropriate. That’s money that stays in our country, in our cities, and in our communities. The super-rich game the system much better than any of us will ever be able to, and one of the few real powers we have left is to lock them out of our finances.
We hear a lot about the lack of US manufacturing jobs, and about companies large and small moving their production overseas. But then we buy things that are made overseas for the same price we would have paid for the same product that was made in the US last year. All that changed was the profit margin. We’re encouraging manufacturers to move overseas by not changing our purchasing habits. We’re encouraging the demise of our own economy, of our country’s ability to produce anything.
It’s time to think, and it’s time to change.
This article, if you can accurately call it that, is phenomenal.
I would love to know the back story on how the article came to be. Was it planned to be this far-reaching and interactive from the beginning? Did it simply develop into an article that surpassed the understanding of an average, non-backcountry-skiing reader, and therefore, adjustments had to be made to the presentation in order to publish it?
What really impressed me was the use of GIFs, hover-over graphics, and in-line animations that conveyed far more than the words were able. That is not, in any way, to say the story was not well-written. But when you’re discussing chaotic events in an unfamiliar landscape devoid of identifiable landmarks, it helps immensely to have maps and the like to convey detail.
The Times’ use of moving line graphics to indicate travel, maps to indicate location of ‘characters,’ and the snowpack animation lent the entire article an educational weight that I don’t typically see in journalism. In fact, after I finished the article, I thought that it should probably be required reading for every avalanche course given, because of the way it discusses everything from technical malfunctions (snowpack, weather conditions, etc.) to interpersonal issues (gender issues in sport, size of group, perceived knowledge of terrain, and confidence in being the one to say, ‘this isn’t safe’).
The other attribute that set the article apart, in my mind, was the way in which each person involved was written as though they were a character in a fictional story. Each character that was introduced was given some exposition time, as well as some development throughout the story. The sidebars/slideshows for each character helped reinforce the cast and created an easily referred to list of who everyone was.
The lasting impact of this use of character, for me anyway, was profound. While I don’t directly know anyone in the group, I know people who are good friends of those people, and I know a hell of a lot of people who’s names, and stories, could be substituted without changing many details. I teared up at quite a few points in the article, simply because I could hear one close friend or another saying precisely the same thing.
I would love to know what kind of impact the article had on those who have never skied the backcountry, or have never lived in the mountains and don’t deal with avalanche fatalities, injuries, and near-misses every season. I’d be interested to see if the impact was just as strong, if the draw to continue reading was as great as it was for me.
I’m a fast reader, and I read a lot throughout every day. In a week, I’ll read a thousand blog posts, countless news articles, and magazines and novels, not to mention the volume of words I comb through at my job as an editor. This article, though, made me slow down, it made me savor every word, and engage at a much deeper level with the story being told. I can’t confidently attribute that to the design alone, or the story alone, or the subject matter alone, and I think that’s what’s really special about it.
A simple mashup of faux and Socratic. Used to describe the conversation killers that do nothing but ask open-ended questions, in hopes of never having to answer anything concrete.
After a few years of adding more and more usernames, passwords, bookmarks, links, and apps to my life, this article, by Anil Dash, inspired me to finally create a home for myself on the web that wasn’t subject to a giant’s changing TOS agreement (WordPress’ clearly notwithstanding).
The punchline, of course, is that I will almost certainly end up sharing links to this site via those services, and hopefully others will, as well, but at that point, those services are just that, and my home is intact.
Welcome to the new web, which is a lot like the old web.