“The Tinkerers”: How corporations kill creativity
A few years ago I engaged my then two-month-old smartphone, a BlackBerry of some sort or another, in a very nontechnical road test: I sat on it. I only noticed the damage when one afternoon I reached to check my email. The small screen, usually jittering and scrolling with plenty of new messages, was suddenly a disconcerting Technicolor swirl with a huge black spot in the middle.
I drove in a mild panic to the nearest Verizon Wireless store and met with a sales representative. After asking for my vitals, he typed for a few seconds and waited. Then he typed, then he waited. Then he sighed.
“You can get a new phone,” he said. “At retail price.”
“How much is that?” I asked.
“Four hundred fifty dollars.”
Could I get my current BlackBerry fixed? The rep shook his head sadly. “They don’t let us repair the phones in the store anymore,” he said.
I felt his pain. Having grown up tinkering with Radio Shack electronic kits, I used to love taking things apart—radios, tape players, anything I could get my hands on.
But in the last twenty-five years or so, the number of household devices we can easily tinker with has dwindled.