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Jottings on appropriate technology

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Defining Appropriate Technology is an ongoing personal process. Many groups take exception with the phrase 'Appropriate Technology', especially when the words 'appropriate' and 'technology' are taken and defined separately. That said, taking the words together as a single coined phrase, working definitions of Appropriate Technology allow us to analyze tools, processes and technologies based upon explicitly stated criteria or guidelines.

Appropriate technology (AT) encompasses thoughts, tools, implementations and observations, dependent upon cultural, political, economic and geographic context. In addition, AT works with and mimics the flow of nature to improve over existing impacts. AT includes adaptability, durability, and lifecycle analysis, while facilitating nonviolence and empowerment through community identified and locally maintainable/operable holistic approaches to meeting needs for present and future generations.

E.F. Schumacher[edit]

AT is technology with a human face.

"Economics as if people mattered" was the subtitle of Small is Beautiful, Schumacher's seminal book

Voluntary simplicity advocates (aka neo-luddites)[edit]

Technology whose risk/cost/value tradeoff is compelling enough to justify continued use.

Anecdotal definitions[edit]

  • Traditional American Folk Saying

Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.

  • unknown origin //(anybody knows?) please edit//

Estanislavo Ploskonka would start his AT presentations with that phrase Google "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" http://www.43things.com/things/view/371013 and it says “old Yankee proverb"

  • Doing what can be done with what we are, what we have, where we are

Different usages, controversies[edit]

This section is material that was deleted from Wikipedia:Appropriate technology as unreferenced. It may or may not be accurate - or may simply refer to something other than "appropriate technology," and in any case needs more work.

One approach to the term, among advocates of voluntary simplicity (sometimes termed neo-luddites), is that "appropriate technology" is technology whose risk/cost/value tradeoff is compelling enough to justify continued use (as judged by the advocates). Examples might include a clothesline, small kitchen gardens, home composting, better thermal insulation, or commuting by bicycle rather than automobile.

Many advocates who use the term "appropriate technology" imply changes that extend even to the "highest" technologies when those technologies are, in fact, the technologies best fitted to their applications. Use of radio broadcasts, cellular telephones or distance education might be considered appropriate "high technologies."

Another commonly encountered approach to the term "appropriate technology" is when it is used to describe specific technologies, like wind power, that provide an alternative to fossil fuels. Also, the term is sometimes used to describe things like the telephone, radio and television (see Information and communication technology) that can reduce the need for travel or replace print. Such usage is controversial, as, very often, windmills or electronics may rely on very high technology elsewhere for their production.

Which technologies are truly "appropriate" was a matter of debate among those who pioneered the concept, and is still a matter of some debate. Further, the use of technologies that are appropriate is an issue for both industry and consumers. For instance, in recent years some consumers have heard the criticism that SUVs are not appropriate to transport one person from A to B on flat terrain and without transporting goods. The other extreme is the use of alternative propulsion, which may involve investing more in the means (say, a car or motorcycle) than the average citizen can afford.

Sometimes, Appropriate Technology is a synonym of creating technology within GFDL (GNU Free Documentation License) and public domain, in collaborative environments (it can use a wiki or similar). In this sense, appropriate technology is not appropriative (proprietary) technology. Comment: I think this is better described as open design, which is a separate concept, though of course it's great if appropriate technology is also open design. --Chriswaterguy · talk 00:46, 7 January 2008 (PST)

Virtual Zambia[edit]

A technology that complements the factor endowments of the country.please expand

IISD Developing Ideas[edit]

A flexible and participatory approach to developing economically viable, regionally applicable and sustainable technology

From Parras de la Fuente Summer Program[edit]

Summer 2005[edit]

Appropriate Technology (AT) encompasses thoughts, tools, implementations and observations, dependant upon cultural, political, economic and geographic context. In addition, AT works with and mimics the flow of nature to improve over existing impacts.

AT includes adaptability, durability, and lifecycle analysis, while facilitating nonviolence and empowerment through community identified and locally maintainable/operable holistic approaches to meeting needs for present and future generations.

Summer 2006[edit]

Appropriate Technology is a analytical, iterative and cooperative approach to supporting health and happiness by:

  • effectively leveraging local knowledge, materials, wealth and labor
  • strengthening symbiotic relationships between individuals, communities and their environment
  • employing biomimicry and cradle-to-cradle design
  • encouraging transparency, equality and empowerment through education
  • considering cultural, political and historical context
  • effecting fun, sexy and functional solutions

to bolster local economy and workforce, reduce environmental impacts and improve current conditions for the future.

Summer 2007[edit]

The following table of 12 criteria define an appropriate technology for Parras Summer 2007. Competing solutions can be rated on how well they meet each of the following criteria. Then those rating can be multiplied by the criterion weights. The solution with the highest score is the most appropriate.

Criteria Weight (0-10 highest)
Económicamente viable para implementar y mantener 10
La comunidad necesita, quiere, y participa en el proyecto 10
Analiza críticamente y utiliza con eficacia conocimiento disponible 10
Apoyar la ecología 9
Realza bienestar 8
Utilizar recursos locales 7
Durabilidad 6
Banco a Banco 6
Adaptabilidad 5
Eliminar complexiones que no son necesarias 4
Atractivo y vendible 4
Multiuso 4

Summer 2008[edit]

The following table of six criteria define an appropriate technology for the Parras 2008 group. Competing solutions can be rated on how well they meet each of the following criteria. Then those rating can be multiplied by the criterion weights. The solution with the highest score is the most appropriate.

Criteria Weight (0-10 highest)
Leverages existing knowledge (doesn´t reinvent the wheel) 10
Locality:
  • Utilises local resources, materials and labor
  • Locally usable, maintainable, and replicable
10
Culturally Sensitive
  • Locally desired
  • Community involvement
  • Considers local politics
  • Considers local norms and customs
  • Fits into local aesthetics
9
Economically Appropriate
  • Financial cost fits with local income
  • Keeps money local
  • Considers local economic structures
8
Responsible Design
  • Safe
  • Site Appropriate
  • Practical
  • Energy Efficient
  • Appropriate Scale
7
Ecologically Sound
  • Cradle to cradle design
  • Positive Environmental Impact
6

From Humboldt State University, Engr114, Spring 2006[edit]

The following 5 definitions come from student groups in Humboldt State University's Engineering 114, Whole Earth Engineering, course in Spring 2006.

Definition 1[edit]

Appropriate technology is not a product which can be purchased with a Visa card. There are no consumers of appropriate technologies, only participants. The benefits of appropriate technology can only be gained if folks are willing to invest time and energy to care about the technologies in their lives.

It is a process to meet the needs and support the health and livelihood of local and global communities within the capacity of the natural environment to support those needs sustainably.

Appropriate technologies must be available to all members of a community. This means these technologies should be affordable, and information and education for them must be available.

The process of adaptation to the needs of people and the realities of the natural world occurs in the original technology design process and in its ongoing operation. This means appropriate technology must be democratically controlled and be adjustable according to changing needs and conditions.

Definition 2[edit]

Appropriate technology is the combination of necessities, wants, desires and the moral conscience that allow us to achieve our goals most efficiently while best managing and using our resources so that we may be sustainable and conscientious in our actions.

Definition 3[edit]

Appropriate technology is any technology that, through a holistic perspective, promotes justice, equity, and reciprocity in an effort to ensure perpetual ecological health and prosperity. To accomplish these ends simple, local, and non-capital intensive techniques should be employed to foment community building as well as social, economic, political responsibility.

Definition 4[edit]

AT can only come from an appropriate process. Therefore, a definition of AT must be an appropriate process. This process is a holistic weighing of the effects, methods, modes and organization required to create and utilize a particular technology. The goal for the technology should be that it is sustainable, restorative and in balance with natural ecosystems.

Definition 5[edit]

AT whether physical or intangible, will eventually melt back into the earth. It is potentially a philosophy, a practice, and a lifestyle. It incorporates an awareness of geographic location, effects of process, and local resources. AT incorporates natural cycles. It is conscious consumption. It is a shift of priorities. It requires looking at the whole picture. It is working together as a community to achieve the greater good for the whole as opposed to the self.

Violating the 2nd law of thermodynamics aka What it is not[edit]

2nd law irony

Appropriate technology is not magic and gives no excuse for claims which are not only unproven, but violate observed scientific laws, such as the second law of thermodynamics.W "Water-fueled cars" and other claimed "zero-point energy" devices fit into this category - they have never been demonstrated to work under controlled conditions, and extremely well-established science predicts that they cannot possibly work.

A more useful way to spend effort is on making devices more efficient, affordable and otherwise appropriate.

Be aware of these principles also when observing advertising.

Resources[edit]

Interwiki links[edit]