XXIIVV

Figuring out how to make the best possible use out of the millions of devices which already exist.

Designing for Disassembly ensures that all elements of a product can be disassembled for repair and for end of life. This allows for and encourages repairs, with the result that a product's life cycle is prolonged; and it allows for a product to be taken apart at the end of its life so that each component can be reclaimed. Among other shifts in thinking and making, this means minimizing materials, using simple mechanical fasteners instead of adhesives, clearly labeling components with their material type, and ensuring components can be disassembled with everyday tools.

Unlike the nebulous goal of designing a sustainable product, designing a product for disassembly is a more concrete, quantifiable approach to ecologically sound making and to consumption. ~

TechniqueDescriptionProsCons
MigrationPeriodically convert data to the next-generation formatsData is instantly accessibleCopies degrade from generation to generation
EmulationMimicking the behavior of older hardware with software, tricking old programs into thinking they are running on their original platformsData does not need to be alteredMimicking is seldom perfect; chains of emulators eventually break down
EncapsulationEncase digital data in physical and software wrappers, showing future users how to reconstruct themDetails of interpreting data are never separated from the data themselvesMust build new wrappers for every new format and software release; works poorly for nontextual data
Universal virtual computerArchive paper copies of specifications for a simple, software-defined decoding machine; save all data in a format readable by the machinePaper lasts for centuries; machine is not tied to specific hardware or softwareDifficult to distill specifications into a brief paper document
Asking for the most suitable programming language for permacomputing is akin to asking for the most suitable plant for permaculture — the entire question contradicts itself.

Emulation is a way of preserving the functionality and access to digital information which might otherwise be lost due to technological obsolescence. One of the benefits of the emulation strategy compared with migration is that the original data need not be altered in any way. It is the emulation of the computer environment that will change with time.

Scavenge-friendly electronics are parts that are no longer manufactured, but that are available by the billions in landfills. Those who can manage to create new designs from scavenged parts with low-tech tools will be able to preserve electronics.

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