I’ve been thinking a lot about various creative reactions to the absurdity that we all carry supercomputers in our pocket but have to keep upgrading even to retain functionality because software gets worse and surveillance gets more pervasive

Things like low-power computing (Rpi and friends, microcomputers, retro computing, etc), some of the solarpunk stuff, the “smolnet” (Gopher and Gemini and the like), and so on seem to be interesting ways of highlighting that things could be other than they are

Is there an umbrella term for this? Is someone collecting projects that relate to “computing designed to work well even with low-performance/low-power gear”?


@calcifer This whole thread and this whole idea meshes well with a thread that @ajroach42 posted the other day, and I just like to imagine what computers would look like if they were made *exclusively* for the benefit of the person who'd end up using them, rather than being designed to make them easier to manufacture/transport/store/market/sell/replace.

· · SubwayTooter · 1 · 1 · 6

@calcifer @ajroach42 Anyway I like "permatech" for machines that aren't designed to be thrown away.

@ifixcoinops @calcifer @ajroach42 'convivial technology', is the term used by Ivan Illych in his 1973 book 'Tools for Conviviality.' His intent is to center the needs of people rather than corporations. His work influenced early open source pioneers and should be more widely read by designers, builders, programmers and engineers today. Convivial here means happy or cheerful, but also includes the older sense of 'life together.' en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tools_

@djsundog @ewankeep @ifixcoinops @calcifer @ajroach42 i've never quite known what to do with illich, but it's probably time i take another pass at it. my last go was _deschooling society_ amidst a bunch of democratic ed types in christchurch in ~2005 and i had entirely too much to think about all at once to process much of it very well.

@ewankeep @ifixcoinops @calcifer @ajroach42

Fascinating ideas. Needs a simple term to describe it.


Tech for Humans

It's almost getting at Ubuntu (the word): theguardian.com/theguardian/20

I'll throw out some Latin for consideration:

"satis" means "enough", hence "satisfaction" is to make/do enough.

So, "Satisfactory Computing" ?

@calcifer @ajroach42 Possibly permachines

As I'm thinking of mashing words together I'm looking at my projector screen and speakers - the screen is just fabric but it's a good screen, and if I upgrade the projector one day it'll still be there screwed to the ceiling. The speakers are old because speakers haven't really changed in the last 40-odd years, we're Done with speakers, if one day I upgrade the amp I'll keep these speakers. Easily swapping bits around should be a feature of permachines.

@ifixcoinops @calcifer @ajroach42 this is a big part of the idea for me (which my head has been classifying as "heirloom computing"). Something that, with the proper maintenance and care, can be handed down to an inheritor and have it be just as useful and functional for that next generational owner. Maybe the display gets upgraded, maybe the keyboard doesn't. But the chassis is solid, the wiring clean, and the space is copious.

@djsundog @calcifer @ajroach42 Yes, extra space inside the thing in case you want or need to change it, that's a big part of this thing we want to settle on a word for.

@djsundog @calcifer @ajroach42 I like "heirloom computing," I like "decade devices," I like "century computers," these are all great.

When I first encountered the word "Solarpunk" I was putting together a course for teaching pinball repair and I had this wonderful moment of all these related ideas coming together in a word-picture-package - instead of spending half an hour in the pub explaining all these tangentially-related things, I could just say a word and show a few pictures...

@djsundog @calcifer @ajroach42 ...and we'd have a concept in a package. Like an IC, we've got a bunch of complicated stuff encapsulated into a box with contacts sticking out for us to connect other things to, and we've gone from talking about how thing x could connect with List Or Subset Thereof Of Interconnected Things, to thinking about how thing x connects to Solarpunk. That's ENORMOUSLY powerful, so yeah, naming this elephant we're groping around is important.

@ifixcoinops @djsundog @calcifer

Human centered technology and small computing are the words I use most often, and will likely continue to use.

Let us know if you find something better.

@ajroach42 @djsundog @calcifer Those are good too. I've been calling fediverse instances "Human scaled social networks," because they can be small enough for one human to understand and take care of, which I think is a very empowering idea. I like having "human" in the name, it reminds us what all this is supposed to be for.

@djsundog @ifixcoinops @calcifer @ajroach42 farmers (as in family farms, not giant corporate agribusiness) do tech right. Use their tractors for decades, pass stuff down to the next generation, salvage and hack machines, share ideas. Computing needs to emulate this.


John Deere became enemy #1 when they put DRMed computers in their machines, well maybe #2 after Monsanto patented seeds and made farmers sign EULAs. Farmers knew this was outrageous.

@ifixcoinops @calcifer audio gear is a great example of the kind of sustainability and longevity we need in technology.

I used an amp from 62 with a turntable from 75, an 80s cassette deck, a bluetooth receiver, and various pairs of speakers from various decades for something like 8 years.

All interoperable, all reasonably repairable, all comprehensible.

Heck, the amp had a schematic inside the case.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!