Monday, June 15, 2015

When did we get too much stuff?

Kevin Kelly pointed out that we have more types of things (species of technology) than even the most wealthy had in the past. "count the number of species of technology in our household. And it came up with 6,000 different species of products. I did some research and found out that the King of England, Henry VIII, had only about 7,000 items in his household. And he was the King of England, and that was the entire wealth of England at the time." Kevin Kelly

How much more stuff can we get over time? The Argos catalog seems to get bigger each year and it seemed to me an ideal way to measure the amount of stuff we get to decide we don't want.

Retromash is a great site for old Argos catalogs. I Counted the total page numbers in each years catalog. I don't have the slaves undergraduates needed to count everything in the actual catalog. Retromash don't have much after 1990 so I went to ebay and they list the number of pages. This produces this data (with links to the ebay sources). One weirdness is there seemed to have been an instore catalog and superstore (to be delivered) catalog for a few years.

I have tried to give the number of pages of the Autumn/Winter Argos catalog you get in the shop in any given year.

The graph is just a simple ggplot2 scatterplot

mydata = read.table("argos.tsv", header=TRUE)

ggplot(mydata, aes(x=Year, y=pages)) + geom_point(shape=1) + geom_smooth(method=lm, se=FALSE)


It looks like there are nine times the number of things we can choose now from Argos as there was in 1975. To put a prediction on this, the amount of things you can buy nearby doubles ever decade.