Benefits and limits of technofixes

A couple of days ago we had a good conversation in our open-hardware local group.

Our group has more than 80 members, but in different islands so it’s never a large group. We grew out of the local linux user group, and so far we’ve done the usual: cooperatively buy a 3D printer and then start printint parts for the offspring (more 3D printers!), build a couple of small hexayurt models (not just me, but two others, yay!), created an inexpensive 3D printer where the 3D movement is done using very inexpensive off-the-shelf “guides for drawers” (“guías para cajones” in Spanish), and a platform on wheels with a battery and a webcam to be used as a farm robot.

In that environment, creativity just happens, and we’re thinking we should crowdsource the building of a machine to cut metal pieces and build all sorts of things. (For those into details,’s CNC torch table.)

In a nutshell, I think technology needs to be open, appropriate and agile. In Spanish, that’s “abierta, apropiada & ágil”, which gives us a nice AAA or A³.

“Open” means you really own what you bought or built. At the very least, you can unscrew it to replace broken parts etc. “Appropriate” means you use local materials when available (except metals which you’ll then use for a thousand years, or if you want to house a million in Haiti, in which - if that’s what you want to do - you might consider importing several million panels of plywood, so it really depends), and certainly you want to make it cold-resistent in Helsinki, and ant-resistent in the jungle.

Now, “agile”. We need to look at several levels of “agile”. For each project, modularity lets people work in parallel: you do the wheels and I do the battery and that other group works on the webcam. As a meta-level, we’re hoping networks of hackerspaces will welcome us as soon as we have some room to set up a hackerspace ourselves.

I’m into resilience. I think these groups and networks are a great resource (among others) in any European society. They could use some help and attention.

Now, I know no technofix will be enough. We’re still a culture that has a history of converting natural resources into toxic waste, and even if we change our ways a lot, the (metaphorical) ex-smoker will still have (metaphorical) damaged lungs.


No, Lucas, technofixes are not enough. The culture behind them, that’s an entirely different ballgame. I think it might be a very powerful force!