Getting all convivial.

When you start to look into innovation and technology, sooner or later you end up reading Ivan Illich’s Tools for Conviviality. This great challenging book seeks to turn the world on its head and create a completely transformed society. Along the way it provides some interesting insight into how individual creativity can be amplified and maximised using convivial tools.

Currently I am doing an investigation into how I might discover more convivial tools. That search has led me to the following article on the characteristics of convivial tools, by Michael Slattery. To help visualise these characteristics, I reinterpreted  Michael’s text description into the following diagram.



For the purpose of developing a measure of how convivial a tool is, it appears that the following characteristics are most important:

1. Usability

2. Repairability

3. Durability

4. Environmental friendliness

5. Promotion of Autonomy

6. Social friendliness

I think there is also something interesting about the bottom characteristics as basic building blocks:

1. Robustness

2. Simplicity

3. Modularity

4. Open Access

These items appear to underpin all the others. More investigation needs to occur.












Technology descent – the slippery slope of reskilling

As high technology becomes ubiquitous we use it for all manner of trivial tasks. But this may not always be the case. If we hit the limits of our resource and energy reserves we may be in for an interesting situation. How will we reintroduce the ‘basic’ skills to our local communities when the ever advancing tide of the Internet is reversed and the globalised markets cannot deliver anymore? Who still knows how to do that stuff anyway? Continue reading

Agility – a sustainable practice?

Software development is not easily linked to sustainability – IT is a high growth, high energy business and is about as far away from being truly sustainable as we can get. And yet in the case of modern software systems, as in the case of sustainable development, we often face a task that is difficult to fully understand or specify at the start. In software development, agile methods are adopted to address this complexity. Does this provide us with any lessons for sustainability? Continue reading