Sustain, maintain and share.
Innovation should not come at any cost. We should move away from short-term innovation cycles, towards longevity and openness. This is paramount to creating tech that functions within planetary boundaries. The appreciation of, and value accorded to, maintenance and interoperability must increase.
Fieke Jansen & Michelle Thorne
»By reframing innovation as a problem, we can centre technology in challenges that are about power, extractive practices, wealth and inequality.
Open source tools and free public code are the foundations upon which the entire internet rests. But to sustain and maintain these structures requires a shift in how we analyse the problems faced and how we engage with the question of who profits from the unseen labour of repairing, developing and running them at the various levels of protocol, infrastructure and application. It also requires us to ask who develops these tools and solutions, for whom and to what purpose, and what knowledge and perspectives are missing in how we shape them for our futures.
Right now, big tech is shaping what our future technologies look like and how we imagine them. And because we have become so dependent on their products, our reliance upon their visions is closing down avenues for alternative futures.
To move forward, we must look to the past to see our future. What values and communities shaped open source tools? What did good practices look like? What can we learn from those ideas and practices that will enable greater inclusivity and prevent corporate capture of this most crucial infrastructure?«
Who can inspire us with their work?
The Restart Project is a people-powered social enterprise based in London that aims to fix our relationship with electronics. The project helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics and rethink how they use them and their digital consumption in the first place. The organisers run regular Restart Parties where people teach each other how to repair their broken and slow devices – from tablets to toasters, iPhones to headphones. They work with schools and socially-grounded organisations to help them value and use their electronics for longer. And they use the data and stories they collect to help demand better, more sustainable electronics for all.
The Restart Project was born in 2013 out of frustration with the throwaway, consumerist model of electronics, and the growing mountain of e-waste it leaves behind. By bringing people together to share skills and gain the confidence to open up their electronics, the Restart Project gives people the hands-on skills to make a difference, as well as a way to talk about the wider issue of what kind of products are needed.