The right to repair

As a kid, I used to love going to Foyle's in Charing Cross Road with my dad. We would head for a floor full of repair and maintenance manuals and, while he searched for help on whatever project was currently occupying him, I would browse books containing fascinating and, incomprehensible to young me, diagrams of the inner workings of automobiles, planes, radios and other technological wonders.

Every time he bought a new car he would also purchase a maintenance manual for it there. The fact that Foyles' shelves seemed to hold a manual for every single car model on the market I could think of always felt like magic to me.

Back then, repairing what you owned seemed natural. TVs and other appliances often came with circuit diagrams and component lists. Could you imagine that today? In the 21st century the mantra seems to be "ending is better than mending".

I get that most people aren't going to dive into their laptop's internals with a soldering iron, especially in a world of miniaturisation and surface mount components, but you're not even supposed to change a battery yourself now.

Which brings me to the reason for this flashback cum rant: an excellent article at the Wall Street Journal on needing the right to repair our gadgets.

Manufacturers stop us by controlling repair plans and limiting access to parts. Some even employ digital software locks to keep us from making changes or repairs. This may not always be planned obsolescence, but it’s certainly intentional obfuscation.

And if you want to take the first step towards keeping your devices' hearts beating longer, your local repair café is probably a good place to start.