Result #12: I didn't even come close to success on this one.

#12 Build a better mouse trap, and by mouse trap I mean can opener.


Date: 1-12-2014

Due Date: 1-12-2015

Back story: A while back I watch a documentary on the YouTube entitled The Light Bulb Conspiracy a documentary about planned obsolescence. I was confused by the use of the word conspiracy because I used to associate that term with tin foil hat people. I have a background in printing and I thought it was just common knowledge that shit was built to break because the technician were never secretive about this when they came to replace parts in the machines that stopped even though they weren't broken. My engineer friends also seemed to just shrug off the topic as if it were just a way of life. I've been kind of obsessed with planned obsolescence ever since.

Resolution: I was going to do the same type of thing as letting the internet determine my cause and have the internet select an item that they have to replace more often than they should due to planned obsolescence and then do some research to see if it would be possible to create an indestructible version of that item.

When I went to the Wikipedia for a more technical description of planned obsolescence this is what I found.

"A common method of planned obsolescence is to use inferior materials that are prone to eventually breaking or otherwise becoming damaged. In the case of wheeled can openers, colluding manufacturers make the can opener's teeth out of relatively soft metal that is prone to deformation (and consequent malfunction due to flattening of the teeth) after using the opener for a while. Some can opener manufacturers make one-wheeled 'butterfly' can openers with a rotating axis piece made of poor-quality plastic that is very prone to breakage. Similarly, some manufacturers of ear protectors and some manufacturers of sunglasses use poor-quality plastic that is prone to embrittlement and breakage."

This year I went through three different designs of can openers so I figured that this must be a sign that the can opener is the item that I need to figure out. Not as any form of money making venture but to help find the answer to Chris Rock's question,

"They got metal on the space shuttle that can go around the moon and withstand temperatures up to 20,000 degrees. You mean to tell me you don't think they can make an El Dorado where the fucking bumper don't fall off?"

I'm starting small. I'll build up to the El Dorado!

My strategy:  Not fully sure yet, but I'm working on it. It would be cool to have a prototype at the end of this but I'm not sure if the overall plan is research to later try to put together a documentary or what.

How you can help: If you're an engineer or know any engineers that would be interested in talking about this. If you an economist or know any economist that would be interested in talking about the type of business model one would have to come up with if you end goal is a business with a finite number of pieces that they plan to produce. If you're a documentary maker and you're interested in talking.

Update #1: The start of an idea.

Date: 2-4-2014

As I said I've burned through three can openers last year.

The first one was actually a pretty good one that lasted me about about five years. There was nothing special about this can opener and at first I just thought it was no big deal. I spent $15 at most for this thing so I figured I got my money's worth.

The second one was a can opener that I bought from a discount grocery store for like $5 bucks. That one only lasted a month. I don't even eat that much canned food. This is when I started to get annoyed. Price be damned the only reason you should ever have to replace a can opener is when you lose your old one. I know my grandparents had a cheapo can opener that must have been a good 50 years old and worked fine.

Then I bought a mid-range can opener from the regular grocery store that lasted about six months. That's why I'm bothered enough to be so hung up on this resolution.

I figured out at least one aspect of this can opener challenge. I just bought this can opener from the dollar store.


I'm going buy various can openers to figure out which design is the best.

I'm still not fully sure where I'm going with this, but it's a start.

Update #2: The Conclusion.

Date: 1-12-2015

I don't think I ever thought I'd actually have an indestructible can opener when I set this resolution one year ago.

I remember hoping that I'd at least study up on planned obsolescence and have a game plan to move forward on some sort of project to point out how damaging this world of upgrades has become.


Other than buying another cheap can opener to test (which is on the verge of falling apart) I did absolutely nothing complete this challenge.

I think this is a case where I was hoping that I would've inspired others to join in on the project to be the driving force as I did the research and writing.  Be prepared for several of these resolutions to fail due to the same type of fantastical delusions that the overall resolution experiment would have been bigger and more interactive.

Hopefully I'll be able to do something about planned obsolescence at some point in my life.

We'll see.