Towards a New Design Ethic
Brilliant article, Mark. I really like the direction of this. I've been playing with a concept I call slow-tech as opposed to low-tech. It doesn't require or provide 24/7 connectivity and maybe is completely non-commercial. It's hard-wired, maybe only with neighborhood hubs. Once a day, people may see who's responded or write/ read other posts. But the rest of the time, we're with the real people in our lives.
In everything, I see the resistance happening by communities taking back their power. I think about how Julian Assange was able to get around the censorship because little Iceland was a safe haven for internet freedom. If there's even one community that's publishing the truth, it makes it accessible to everyone.
I also think that taking back something as slow-tech as local radio, networked into independent producers everywhere, could be community-building.
You've given me a lot of food for thought, and it sounds like you'll be continuing to. Thanks for abetting my practical, post-apocalyptic dreaming!
This is really not my area of expertise, but I certainly have long imagined the utility of a word processor and printer that cannot connect to wifi.
Excellent post, Mark. I'll be following this series with great interest.
Are you by any chance familiar with the work of John Michael Greer? He has long advocated for a low-tech (or slow-tech as per Tereza's comment) approach to technology.
From the moment the Internet of Things/Smart [Anything] concept began gaining traction I was immediately suspicious. Recent events have only solidified, nay, confirmed my suspicions about where all of this stuff is taking us. Nowhere good indeed.
Important, thought out, and well-written to boot. Great stuff. FWIW if this ever moves into a practical realm, I've been a C++ programmer for a long time and a professional firmware engineer for coming up on two years now, and would love to contribute whatever I could.
As an aside, I remember really enjoying "Rogue One", although I suppose anything looks good when you put it against "The Force Awakens" or especially "The Last Jedi" (:
Consider the Precursor:
A handheld computer designed from the ground up to have evidence-based trust (zero backdoors) and implement secure messaging.
That being said, it's expensive (since it's not really mass produced), and difficult to use (built by engineers, not UI designers).
I concur that this field of endeavors should and must be part of our future plans going forward. Others are thinking along these lines, and that’s an encouraging trend. Just in the last week I came across someone who developed an open source cell phone which fits very neatly into your outline:
Someone shared it in the comments section of an article I read on substack. What a treasure trove the comments section can be!
Looking forward to seeing the ideas that have been percolating in your brain Mark. Kudos to you!
I really like this idea.