Usability and Sustainability

I was prompted to write this after reading this:

I’m always concerned when the words ‘sustainability’ is used.

We, as animals are second hand consumers, we rely on plants and other animals for our foods. That we also exploit minerals to make hinges is a matter of usability.

Sustainability then has various meanings when applied to hinges.

  • does the hinge satisfy the user. If not then another hinge will be required to sustain the user requirement.

  • Is there enough resources to make another hinge.

Well irrespective that a lot of metal is being recycled I would say yes there is plenty of minerals to sustain more hinges, after all the old hinges can be melted down and reused

Another resource is the energy required to make the hinges, fuel for example to melt the steel and run the machines.

And the main resource of course: the people to dig the coal, make the machines, run the machines, pack the hinges, transport the hinges etc.

All this requires two things to make it work, sustain it in the period of time the requirement for hinges exists.

  • Plenty of sunlight to compensate for using up the coal and uranium, and we have a long way to go before we peak on sunlight exploitation.

  • Poor people who work to earn a living so they can buy food from the great land owners, and of course to rent a piece of land to dwell upon.

Well there’s not a shortage of poor people.

So we have an abundance of energy, minerals and poor people.

The one thing that is missing is Fair trade.

Can we sustain unfair practices in exploiting other people? It seems we have done so for thousands of years and are doing quite well at it still.

So we use resources, energy, minerals, plants, animals including humans to make our luxury products as well as to produce our food.

So where is this sustainability issue coming from, some new guilt layering psycho war.

Fair trade means not just paying people more but supply exactly waht the consumer wants.

if the consumer wants better hinges then, they will have to say so by paying a proper and Fair cost to the chain of production.

Once a person understnds the cost of production to the people that do the labour most would not do we will have a sustainable economy that inckluse all people and all the resources.

Until then lets make things people want and are willing to pay for, not some rubbishy hinges that provoke such complaints as they are clearly not user friendly and hence not sustainable.

By the way, without a touch screen and not travelling over bumpy roads or jumping up and own with my laptop I’m reasonably happy with the 3.3Kg hinges.

This sort of reasoning is fully usable and not sustainable. I have to be careful not to get up too quickly, and to repeat, luckily not a touchscreen that I wanted, given the wobbly, flexing, resonant screen positioning.

Hope this isn’t too provocative to anyone.

It’s still the best laptop I had and I’ve only ever had laptops since 1996.

Just please don’t use sustainability to deprive me of my simple consumer requirements to have a perfectly usable product.

I suppose what I meant was that a simple design tends to be more durable, meaning it will last and function longer. This is the metric that I think lends itself to the customer the most. How stiff the hinge is, is a more subjective usability metric, that is best addressed by simply having 2 choices, rather than a more complex variable hinge that is more susceptible to material fatigue and failure.


“Tends to” being the keywords here…with some data sampling / precondition bias.

Is the mechanical part ‘simple’ by design because the operational requirement for it is simple (less functional complexity / risk)…which then give rise to the ‘more durable’ outcome?

Or are we simply going with “With all things being equal, less moving parts means lower probability of the parts as a whole from developing issues”? (e.g. A watch bracelet with two links…versus a watch bracelet with 20 links)

Material fatigue, to my understand has little to do with part complexity/count…but more of a relationship between the material, force applied, and force repetition.

e.g. A watch bracelet with 3 links does not fatigue sooner than links with 2 links…because material fatigue is a result on per part / link. In fact, in the case of a bracelet, the 2 links will wear out sooner…because each link will need to cover a wider angle change. (If the bracelet as a whole has to curve 180 degress, a link on the 2-link needs to turn more angle than that of 3-link) Material fatigue would kick in on the 2-link bracelet first.

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