#ShowerThoughts I'm starting to regret being such a cheerleader for the utopia of digital convergence. Anyone else starting to think that the transition to doing everything digitally would have been best done over 50 years, instead of 25, with a bit more risk assessment and forward planning by everyone involved?
@strypey What are cases of technological introductions in which the risk assessment and mitigation part(s) were done correctly? Has that ever even happened?
Genetic engineering comes to mind. At least they tried, with the 1975 Asilomar Conference:
I mean, hell, Gutenberg's press blew up Europe (and the Catholic Church) for a century or four.
Technological innovation tends to lead to direct competitive advantage, even in academia (access to funding), and that leads to incentives to always push forwards as fast as possible. Ethics and morality puts one at a disadvantage, and even 'good' ppl jump the shark with an "we address that later" rationalisation.
Framing and framing effects are important too. I have objection to "digital transformation" hype as it is framed such as to de-emphasize the role of humans.
Just the mere words "digital transformation" imply we must transition to digital spaces, use tech just for the sake of using it.
But tech should be supportive to humans, empowering us while staying as unobtrusive as possible.
Maybe "digital alignment" or "human(e) alignment" might be better when talking about objectives where tech should be headed.
But "digital transformation" sells better and comes with many huge corporate IT projects that are shoved down our throat.
Digital transformation maps real well on 'being disruptive' and 'move fast and break things'. And the sales pitch goes a bit like: "We all wanna avoid those clumsy manual procedures. Digital [just] increases efficience, raises productivity, hence saves costs, raises ROI, and should thus be a no-brainer".
And with budgets being strained everywhere that is a powerful lure, especially for people not aware of the technical complexity and inevitable side-effects that'll come.
It's interesting to read these words and analyze how they affect your frame of mind.
If you're in tech maybe you are now rushed , stressed, overwhelmed, have a huge backlog of TODO's, plans, deadlines you set for yourself or placed upon you.
Now read each of these words slowly and reflect a bit on them:
- Small tech
- Slow tech
- Calm tech
Did they put you more at ease? Can you look differently on what you do today? Does it allow different perspective?
It does to me.
> people tend to think of software as dead/broken if it didn't have some kind of recent code/release activity
There was an interesting thread on Jekyll being 'dead' yesterday on HN. Others considered it feature-complete (though the plugin ecosystem is languishing).
I could imagine some kind of 'stamp of approval' that guarantees / imbibes trust that a project has reached a level of feature-completeness.
In a way it is a bit of an unaddressed 'marketing' issue.
Yes, you are right to state that. There are more axes along which to measure. E.g. Maturity is another dimension that is different than mere 'feature-completeness'.
Regardless of that a #FOSS 'institute' might help do the labeling as "safe to use even when inactive now", when the project maintainers didn't make that sufficiently clear.
> a lot of people tend to think of software as dead/broken if it didn't have some kind of recent code/release activity.
Guity as charged, but it's a fair rule of thumb. Dead software does fit this description and given the constant changes in surrounding software, it's a rare user-facing program that doesn't require regular work to keep up. If there's no sign of any such work being done, and no reply from maintainers on any available project channel ...
This is not a promise, but an intention. It's just where it starts. And indeed worthless without real follow-up and action.
We see a trend of sustainable businesses that emerges. They might embed this in a manifesto and continuously monitor their compliance, so they can turn their intent into a promise as they deliver. By anchoring these values in their business.
Incentives might flow from a quest for sustainable income, which leaves more space to do things differently.
Ha ha, I'm old too, and getting older faster than time progresses if I read all the negativity that's so easily available across all media channels.
But when allowing myself to open up to some positivity a whole new realm opens, and I see things I couldn't perceive before. Not a glorious road that seemingly leads to utopia, but more a winding pathway of hope that one can practice walking and do some useful things along the way :D
I focus not on success, just progress.
I say this casually but for me this insight has been kinda profound. As humane tech activist I was mostly focussed on raising problem awareness, as most people do. And it was utterly, thoroughly depressive. Especially seeing that most people get numb to all these urgent messages thrown at them. They tune out.
I became stressed out for their sake. Now for some time I adopted a solution mindset + allowed some positivity and optimism to take hold. It provides a way forward.
The urge to fix is what I hate most about tech optimism. Sometimes things need to be destroyed because they are intrinsically bad things.
It's amazing how tech always wants to fix *itself* but gives few shits about maintenance or fixing of built up infrastructure or environment. Tech is always out in its driveway waxing its own classic car.
@humanetech There are different elements of the problems of technology (more accurately in much current discussion, information technology).
One track, let's call it T, is identifying the problem(s), the goal(s), and the path to reaching those ("getting there from here"). That's the technical side.
Another, S, is the selling of that solution to the broader world. It's the sell-side.
When you're in S mode, yes, you typically want kittens-and-puppies-and-unicorns-farting-rainbows. 🐱 🐶 🦄 🌈
But you've got to have something to sell. And when I come here asking the T questions ... you don't have much for me.
And that's why I find what you're offering rather empty.
Technology isn't built on aspirations and wishful thinking. It might be motivated and marketed on those bases. But solid technology identifies specific risks and opportunities and means of minimising the first whilst maximising the latter.
"Small", "Slow", and "Calm" aren't mechanisms", they're *goals.
But if you're interested in keeping my attention, you'll have to answer:
Why these goals?
What risks to they address, what opportunities do they create?
How do you ensure that they persist? Because these are frequent promises, and they're also just as frequently disappointments.
How are you going to deliver them in the first place?
And how do you propose their surviving in a world which seems hell bent for leather on obliterating any such promises, or, at best, as making them an option only for the exceptionally wealthy or eccentric.
Otherwise this is just hopium and castles in clouds. Pretty to think about, but disappointing when you want shelter from the rain or marauding hordes.
I called "Small", "Slow", "Calm" intents, and you goals, which are in the same street.
Made a *personal* shift from problem to solution focus because the former is overemphasized in the media and the latter interests me more. Other than that I am not selling nor offering anything. I toot and people find it interesting or not. It's that simple. My advocacy mostly consists of laying links between ppl. groups, projects.. "are you aware of this?".
They are new fields, a different way of thinking about technology, and hence they are vast.
For Small / Slow / Calm technology to become in any way meaningful we need a helluva lot of both T and S and lotsa people involved in both.
Here on fedi and in foss culture there's more progress. The mindset is already different, the seed of what these terms mean is set. Advocacy might simply mean making more people aware of that.
Making that far more explicit (that these are goals and aspirations, not technologies or solutions of themselves) ... might ... help.
Again: this has been offered and sold before, in many different forms.
The "back to nature" movement, "slow food", a whole set of anti-modernism religous movements (which I'm having trouble finding) at the end of the 19th century and especially in the Lost Generation after WWI. The Luddites (not a pejorative, I have some sympathies). Amish and Menonites. Monastic and ascetic movements, the Jainists.
It can at best be a very small countermovement, from what I've seen.
Yes, certainly true. There's a whole bunch of damn, intertwined wicked problems to consider, but doing so - to me at least - had a stifling effect and made me cynical and fatalistic, not able to see the 1,000's of people doing wonderful small but significant things to improve things, make progress. I became myopic to all that.
OTOH in the wider public there's more awareness that something is wrong. Maybe more willingness to change, become part of the solution-side too.
> Isn't [small / slow / calm] largely what all technology promises?
Not at all. What tech promoters tend to promise is bigger/ better/ faster/ more.
> How do you ensure that tech stays small / slow / calm?
It's not proposed as an approach to engineering tech so much as an approach to using it. We all have choices about when and how to use or not use any given bit of tech, small/ slow/ calm tech movements are about sharing strategies for making better choices.
> What are cases of technological introductions in which the risk assessment and mitigation part(s) were done correctly?
Correctly? I would settle for at all. Other than the obvious evil uses authoritarians and capitalists were going to put computers and networks to anyway, I didn't consider any of the potential risks of replacing post with email, record stores with Napster etc. In hindsight, that was dangerously naive.
@dredmorbius Mind you, I was an anarchist radical in my 20s when the web was being popularized, so I can be forgiven for thinking disruption of established ways of doing things would inevitably by a net good. The veteran public service decision-makers rushing the digitization of everything they do, on the other hand ...
Hazard of reading science fiction 😂
Most of scifi treatment of robots, aliens, and sentient computers is proxy for white racial fears, albeit with significant influence from Jewish golem myths, but I took all that as an analysis of the future rather than the past until more recently
So my attitude towards AGI and robotics has always been that treating another sentience poorly and reducing such to servitude was Not a Good Idea™, that leaving relations with such to corporations or the military was Especially Bad™, and that codes* attempting to control the behavior of such were futile, counterproductive, and hostile to those affected
Which is all to say that technologists who uncritically give projects names like "Palantir" can be counted on to willfully miss the point when forced to consider ethical concerns of their work, and being afraid of things technology produces has always been a useful distraction in the service of the amoral bastards producing it
*Codes - Asimov's Laws of Robots come from Golem myths, while "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is commentary on segregation (Black Codes) and the subtext of Neuromancer contains commentary on Yellow Codes, Yellow Scare, and the significance of Black Revolutionary movements
@strypey But then we won't have video calling or mastodon today. It would have taken twice as long to reach us.
@strypey IMHO 25 would be fine if that also included a) strong accessibility regulation and b) liability law so people could sue the asses off those who sell products/services not fit for purpose rather than just for physical goods.
@strypey re-imagining our stance & development of information technology as a slower, longer term activity is such an important song to sing
@strypey the fact that you present a benevolent and thoughtful vision for digital technology is the point, for the same reason that tech innovation often seems to be inspired by science fiction: it's impossible to aim for a result if you don't have a compelling mental image. I think your vision, and you expounding it publicly, is a crucial part of achieving it.
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