I'm materialistic. I like things and the design and process of making them, and I don't apologize for this affinity. While materialism received a decidedly negative connotation during the post-industrial boom of the 80s, ultimately a functioning economy and society is materialistic. Succeeding in modern creative industries, including software development, requires a critical eye toward objects and our interactions with them.
Unfortunately, I believe the lack of emphasis on skilled trades and manufacturing in the U.S. has decreased our ability to value goods. Modern consumers rely on branding and advertising to shape perception and purchasing decisions. As a result we have become poor judges of quality and often we receive poor value for our dollar.
As a consumer, I have obsessively sought out U.S. made goods. I'm not a card carrying union member or flag waving patriot, but I believe many leading U.S. companies lost much of what made them great when they abandoned their U.S. manufacturing base for lower cost operations. Some of them lost my business as the choice to move manufacturing offshore wasn't driven by the desire to increase quality, but to decrease costs.
We are now inundated by parades of container ships, but it is increasingly difficult to find goods that offer both quality and value. I find it almost impossible to discriminate between goods sold at Wal-mart from those available from what were formally well regarded department stores.
But I believe attitudes are changing. We are more informed consumers, and as a result of increased commodity prices and a decrease in the value of the U.S. dollar, I believe there will be a shift from the multitudes of low quality goods, to fewer, classic, durable goods of high quality. So after a hiatus from blogging, I'm starting anew with a focus on the things I love (or hate) and our interaction with them.