Towards a People’s Technology


Brodey’s laudable attempt to articulate what people’s technology might mean — especially in the context of ecology. His views are almost certainly informed by the debates about “people’s technology” in Scandinavian leftist circles at the time. Original is in the Brodey archives in Vienna.

Definition: A people’s technology, a technology for decentralized use is a low technology. By low is meant one that enables the user to enter into comprehensive dialogue – or more simply to know how to assemble-disassemble, take it to pieces, get or make new parts. The understanding does not need to be scientific or true, it may simply be a ritual which gives logic to the behavior (as science does) or a knack that’s reasonable. These devices may be quite complex though intuitively easy and appealing.

Here we begin to part company from the ideal that a low technology is simple by high technology standards.

Spade, fork, shovel – shared context tools enables interfacing with earth – in a manner that constrains change in earth to that ordinary person can take responsibility for. These are low technology tools, like bones, arms bones extend the hand so the hand is extended by the shovel beyond the hand.

Wooden house – if a man makes it so he has felt the wood, talked to it, it is low technology – high information participative, if the wood were but by his or known persons choice more info. Uncle Jack really knew how to match pieces. 

Are irregular pieces used? Is wood high info or low? 

Graceful degradation

Information content of a material: Start with tree, use its special nature not just as ornament, Baleken, choosing a tree for its shape and size, lopping off limits, letting it stand 5 years using it. If period of use and processing resembles periodicity of life then higher info, since conception of use related to timing of growth ie. less likely to be dysrhythmic. Cascading rhythms. Use of wood that is already no longer useful in terms of (1) its living form (2) it’s ‘dead’ form chopping it into pieces where information level is reduced ie. negentropy is gradually released.

Valuing information content and using this at every level rather than blasting it into Polser Sausage – CO2 

Reason for valuing info content is that materials of higher info content enable higher info level in surround Viz – soft wood grain handmade room comfortable for personal creative action.

Is this personal: Is it just value determined yes! But live in a cube or spherical room, live in a room of proportions that keep moving because they form many relations, live in a room with micro and macro relationships.

Absolute info level – [neg] entropy 

Relational – user pattern 

Recognition – multichannel 

– relational

– smell, touch sound, etc.

White walls – square low info easier programming brain wash – pressure on internal information to fill gap, ‘individualism’ increased if that means self-evaluation is collective.

What is the nature of a technology that would support decentralized living in Norway.

1. Support decentralized values ie. reduce money transfer; increase wealth.

2. Increase low tech increase info – ie. meaning

3. Increase local inventiveness.

4. Increase local participation in collective decisions.

5. Increase decentralist hierarchical communication.

6. Make local cut off from central supplies possible (and control) of Heroin (goods) gives junky power.

7. Need technology – non [amorphores] – high info materials that suggest uses of Eoliths but not just garbage. 

8. Technology could just amplify, make putting together local material info, energy easier. 

9. Our responsibility to offer technological “amplifiers” that have another or many others voices besides industrial.

10. Model is ecology and biotechnology.

North [inland]. Problems

A) Energy: Sun and Heat and Wind storage, abundance of local energy without payment of money would immediately create invention.

Must compute energy available from non-averaged statistics i.e.. want high and low spots – no sausage teller, no absolute efficiency, can afford to recycle -? Heat pipes: this is a low technology – change of state easy – sun technology low what substance breaks down or builds in summer use in winter.

Water? Snow? Ice

Common – methane? Need way to compress gas to liquid.

Alcohols? Low technology.

Compressed air? Large volumes gasoline made by sun slowly, can we find way to make some such non [polubere] fact. 

Ictus is to Norway as important a problem as Cancer. 

Need for ship propulsion etc. Home built engines! Compressed gas recirculated tell all gone ie. need to work in territory of low differences. This takes in materials as well as user.

Using energy from storms – low info idea requires sausage. Unusual situation is to be avoided – averaging – now problem – and find exceptions and use it. ie. High info is illustrate and info [coulure] of energy

Fire vs parcels of 10° difference. 

Storms used; may put up big temporary structures to catch wind during storm need amplifier effect to store, so that high wind can be rapidly turned to chemical change of state, compression change.

Energy |info| material lightweight strong like sail wind makes winner holds it in place – describe cloth. 

Small dams – bags – held on water pressure – dynamite to explore local storage of water vs large hydro.

Acetylene laser tools [...]


Warning devices

Sensors and activators

Warming – cold – frost – turn on heaters, close covers, indoor food supply, indoor clothing supply – wool etc. winter use and easy maintain once of animals – grow fodder – using nitrogen from air. 

[Drawing] page 9

Need active or intelligent materials then can use intelligence added to change purpose – so responsive to environment changes.

Local agriculture

1. Helping to set up increasing knowledge of microclimate and microclimate planning. Behind this rock in this soil. Intensive small tools. Schooling to plant behavior sensors and loops regulators – plant droops more water – cheap plant sensors, regulators battery of droop battery [and pair], heat value, water flow explore

2. Fogs and water sprays, clouds for frost – fine high pressure sprays – self-cleaning holes.

3. Water storage and irrigation – 

4. Winter structures, hydro [ponties], caves, knowledge of light wave length and plastic, heath, [sintis] – eg use of water and heat pipes to prevent freezing – 40 expands – water vapour and expansion with heat, changes in density. Heat storage in rocks damping of rapid temp changes – use of snow and ice for insulation and structures, foamed ice.

Sea water – evaporation slits – 

5. Devices for leaching new farmer old farmers tricks – 

Collections cf library of congress old music – old farmers – on tape audio video. Distribution to new farmers – self serving network.

Graceful degradation – compost, sewage bacterial action systems, methane storage compression into [lontis] – for later burning importance

Information networks and data management

1. Local availability of switching capacity – flows of air and water. Air nets in valleys – ie small depressions to catch wind when passes through narrowing turn energy storing device.

Sensors of wind, energize system. Is this kind of system a proper function of Architects. Yes, if home is to be [Ecohome ].    

2. Importance of storm and evil weather producing something useful.

3. Use of cold 

1. Rapid dry freezing – 

2. Compression and condensation of gases for summer use in summer heat

3. Energy storage for summer months – gases C̅ BP in range of winter cold – 

Sea and information

Seeking out of currents anchoring energy devices – storing for local use eg: pumping air below surface compressing and returning to surface compressed. 

Low efficiency systems which use available energy and materials and require little care taking are highly desirable. 

New Questions A bridge gathering Energy local systems 

1. Natural laws

2. Is it in right place

3. [Rigli] materials 

4. Local participation

5. Ecological consequences

6. Political

Department of local technology