The Race to the bottom – and why we have a choice

It’s the end of the year and time for some reflection.

Engineering and design have helped the human race increase quality of life to an extent that today most of us in the “first world” can expect to live for a 100 years.  Our lives are filled with new ideas and possibilities.

Africa, once called the “Dark Continent” is finally turning a corner and as the Economist points out in this article promises to host many of the fastest growing economies in the world – thats a Billion People

Golbalisation has enabled companies to beef up their margins and provide access to products and services to many more people.

Globalisation has brought many such gifts but some times I cannot help but feel that the growth in globalisation has been relentlessly uni-dimensional – a race to build the most amount of stuff for the least amount of money.

The romantic in me therefore asks, what of engineering, beauty and building things that last for ever?  Where have the Namiki pens gone?  Sure Bic makes pens so cheap we can throw them away after one use, but the romance of engineering is gone.  How I wish we can have Laquer covered iPhone cases – marrying beauty of two different kinds to produce a breathtaking piece of art/science!! – we don’t really have to race to the bottom.

Perhaps one of the great artisan-engineers of our time was Steve Jobs.  He created the worlds most valuable company by elevating a “commodity” – the PC to a work of art.

I guess there is hope!!!

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