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Re: [xml-dev] Do you enjoy neighborhoods where every house looksthe same?

On 8/28/13 4:00 PM, Amelia A Lewis wrote:
> Or, given economies of scale (that certainly *are* relevant for the
> material examples then provided, though they may or may not be for
> markup), the statement might be:
> Standardization lets (most of) us afford things.

No.  We could afford things before standardization set in.

Given the vast quantities of energy we have unleashed - really 
spectacular quantities compared to the past - the strange question is 
why so many of us still have to wonder about whether we can afford much.

> The fact is, in these material things, it is perfectly *true* that the
> standardized stuff is aesthetically less pleasing. It is also true that
> it's cheaper. And cheaper means less people without doors. Or without
> roofs. Or without windows. Or without electricity. Because more people
> can afford standardized bits. It also means less expertise is required
> when (inevitably) something breaks. A masterpiece may only be reparable
> by an equal master, in some cases.

Being able to afford things is, sadly, more a question of distribution 
than a question of standardization.  Making things more cheaply does 
allow those who have less to have more, granted - but it also comes with 
costs we generally prefer to forget.

Also, in far too many cases, we've stopped repairing, preferring to discard.

> And, also passed over: the experts are still out there. You just have
> to be a damned sight richer to afford custom hand-made stuff. I can go
> out and buy a cheap chair at the discount store today, and haul it
> home. It'll be ugly, and who knows how long it'll last. Or I can build
> one myself (which is what I really want to do; the problem isn't
> stupidity or laziness it's that it takes *time* that I can also use to
> earn money to, for example, buy tools and materials). Or I can go to a
> local expert who has the chair that I really, truly want, hand-made of
> wood selected and shaped and joined by masters, with upholstery
> hand-packed and sewn (though most of the fabrics aren't hand-woven, to
> my knowledge, and I'm pretty sure that the carpenters use some standard
> tools and standard mass-produced finishes and consumables such as
> sandpaper). It costs $2000, but I *can* do it; that option remains
> available. If my recently-preggers neighbor had to pony up $2K to have
> a seat to sit on, the world would be a much less aesthetic place, in my
> opinion.

The incredible expense of "artisanal" objects has, unfortunately, much 
to do with the impossibility of making a living competing against 
mass-produced materials.  The only way most folks who actually want to 
make have found out of that trap is to cater to conspicuous consumption. 
  And yes, to use industrial materials in places where they think it 
won't show or matter.

(Food is a partial exception.  There are at least other stories there.)

> I think some of this conversation has gone a bit too far.
> Standardization for the stupid is, in my opinion, too far, much as I
> generally admire your work, Simon.

Unfortunately, it's not avoidable.  We can look away, and have, but that 
doesn't change it.

Simon St.Laurent

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