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”?
@teh_dude I don't think that works as an umbrella, though there's certainly some overlap. The philosophy of "small, grassroots, accessible" doesn't seem to really quite fit the general perception of cyberpunk
@calcifer i mean, being a cyberpunk, and the ethos in general, not to mention the aesthetic, is about the incredible proliferation of technology.
i mean, our world right now is basically what gibson warned us about, and that would kinda necessitate that aesthetic to be essentially cyberpunk.
whether you actually want to call it cyberpunk is another thing, which i would totally understand.
@calcifer i mean, i say a i mean a lot, but really what i mean is that trying to speak as if by voice through text is a little strange.
@calcifer and also, i realize cyberpunk is a lot more than the proliferation of technology, that just happens to be the main point we were talking about
@federico3 oh it's dystopia all right
@federico3 @teh_dude yeah, this is my concern. Cyberpunk describes a chunk of the problem, but doesn't really describe the kinds of solutions or project-based commentary I'm interested in, nor do cyberpunk protagonists share the kind of aims or philosophy that's interesting me here
Cyberpunk is cool, but I don't think it is this. Solarpunk definitely is a solid example of the kind of thing I'm interested in, but I don't think it's broad enough to encompass; it's a part, not the whole
Of things people have suggested, I think "smalltech" is probably the closest match, though it seems to want to be an engine of social change, which is a bit more… activist than I'd want to imply (I appreciate activism, but I wouldn't want to limit the topic to activist projects)
@cypnk yeah, that's definitely in the neighborhood, but you're right it's not quite a perfect fit.
@calcifer altap: As Little Technology As Possible
@neauoire hm. Is there more about this somewhere? It seems like maybe a fit, or at least another example to consider
@calcifer perhaps we could call it walkaway computing
Reject the upgrade treadmill.
Compute for the user.
Build it to last, and to be repairable when it breaks.
Cooperate. Collaborate. Share the plenty.
Resources want to be shared.
Some terms that might fit
lean and mean
lasting (non obsolescent)
PinePhone and the Librem 5 would be examples. On a related note, Purism points out, the device gets better/faster with updates, not worse 😉
@calcifer There needs to be a term for this, as it's only going to get more popular, I believe.
"Alt-computing" is maybe too obvious, but something positive, not a term that defines what it's against, is best.
@erosdiscordia agreed. It's a shame words like "sustainable" have so much bullshit baggage
From a design philosophy, it's almost just plain "respectful computing": hardware that respects users' needs for longevity and resilience, software that respects its users' resources and the other software it shares them with, and systems that respect users' intelligence, limitations (time and resources, but also ability [in the accessibility meaning of the term], and ownership [in the form of "right to control"])
But I'm not sure that term would lead to much more than debate over the exact definition of respect…
@calcifer It is at base, respectful computing. But I do think people would get lost in hairsplitting that terminology. It needs to be such a basic term that nobody is tempted to Discourse too much about the words themselves. Tall order these days, I know.
@calcifer I'm absolutely interested in this. When I joined Mastodon a couple years ago, I was only barely able to grasp the concept of the possibility of this, as a vague longing in the corners of my spirit. I loved tech, but hated what it had become, which confused me.
And I felt so unqualified to have an opinion, because I wasn't "in tech" -- as though you have to be, to question something that literally affects every aspect of your life!
That elitism and exclusion is exactly the mindset that this new computering movement has to thwart.
It needs to be easy to talk about, which means it can't be too Discourse-y or academic in language.
In 1998 I was working on a multi-million dollar SGI supercomputer doing graphics and VR work.
I was recently in a presentation where they talked about how hard it was to do VR on smartphones because of the high resolution and high framerates.
Turns out the smartphone had almost the same graphics performance as that SGI back in the day, but FAR more CPU, RAM, storage, and bandwidth.
Also that old SGI was doing higher resolutions and higher framerates then the smartphone.
@federico3 unfortunately, half of the horrifying software design we see believes itself to be "user centric". If I were labelling my philosophical take, I might call it "respectful computing" (see elsewhere in threads); but I think that doesn't work as a unifying term due to the widely varying perceptions of "respect"
Naming things is hard.
I've sometimes referred to this as "yestertech" or "smalltech", though I'd love to know if there's more common term for this DIY-ish low-fi cyber-y stuff.
@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.' https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tools_for_Conviviality
@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 @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.
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.
A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. Keep it fairly clean please. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.