Let’s say that Friday is supposed to be part of the weekend, no hackership going on, no need to get up early, no need to go to what is becoming are second home. But things are not always as they are supposed to be, so there we were, not at 10h in the morning but at 9h, not to continue with our coding project but to get introduced to Arduino world.
We had kits from Fritzing , a really cool project for learning Arduino, with regular workshops for beginners and more advanced people.
We started with the blinking led, then light sensor, a piezo buzzer and rotatory knob. Just doing the basics was great fun but the time was over.
The fritzing kit comes with a dinosaur that will move to the rhythm of twitter, some led matrix, a robot, so at the end of the session the feeling was, we want more of this 🙂
Well, time for lunch, what I didn’t expect to have a really interesting lunch conversation, no idea how we got into the topic but we ended up visioning to where can technology evolve, which could be its role in society, does technology per se guarantee that we will build a better world? oh yes, difficult questions.
If you’ve seen the series Black mirror, a highly recommended British series of just 6 chapters (uff nice!!), you can imagine the kind of things we thought that technology could do in a near future. 3D Printing all kind of stuff, food, organs, high capacity of importing info to your brain, was a science-fic conversation, but with the exception that somehow we think we are not so far from there.
Some months ago, I wrote an article about this for a spanish online newspaper eldiario.es, giving my vision about technology, specially what it has to do with makers, 3d-printing, since one of the facts that I think is going to happen is that we will move from a centralized industry to the decentralized workshops network. Among 3D-printing tests, we can already find tests for printing food, bikes, cars etc. Initiatives like 3D-hubs, a decentralized worldwide network of 3D printing possibilities is being built. To read some literature about the topic I recommended Makers a book by Cory Doctorow.
But while this sci-fi society is being built, as something unstoppable, I think that we have the responsability of thinking how the use of technology will actually improve social society, to live in a better world. We should not separate the technological development from social needs, being able to listen, to see, to understand those realities that are sharing the same world.
“It argues for the growth of small scale techniques suitable for use by individuals and communities, in a wider social context of humanised production under workers and consumers control “
So along with technology, should come degrowth in the current consumed based society (funny but English Wikipedia does not have a really good entry in degrowth movement).
Well at some point, lunch was over, we split to do different stuff, but a bit later some of us met again to be present in the Berlin Hardware accelerator, the goal to set some focus on the hardware start-ups, not easy but this was a try. Being in that room, full of start-up people felt a bit strange, people presented their projects, but all in the same way, with the same voice tone, with the same “enthusiasm” that a entrepreneur I guess should have.
It did not matter which was the product (I did not find any of them really amazing or that could led us to a better society), the way of communication was the same, uniform, there was no singularity, sometimes I had to come forward and check that it was a person who was doing the presentation and not a recorded video or something.
I love much more our hackership endoftheweek presentations, where each of them in singular, you appreciate the diversity of people, of ways of doing, of expressing, the richness of the difference, so this start-up pitch thing felt a bit plastic. I was not present the whole session so maybe I missed the good ones, but too tired to remain indoors.
On my way home, that was supposed to be where I was going, I received a sms of a friend to meet for a tea, it would be a quick one, so yes cool!! on my way to Kotti Cafe. On the way, as every day I passed through the O-Platz refugee camp, the invisible ones, back to my mind our lunch conversation, we are developing tools, technology, but what are we thinking about when we do that? this people, just 100m away from our Betahaus bubble world, are people who have no freedom of movement, no right to work, to housing, lots of whom are here because of wars, have built the camp a year ago, to be visible in spite of weather conditions, living conditions, etc. We will never see them in Betahaus, we will never see Betahaus in O-Platz , the distance 100m, two completely different worlds, are they incompatible? are we ready to listen to both realities?
I met my friend just before going up the stairs to Kotti Cafe(another different world), big hugs, lunch conversation and hardware accelerator are still in my mind, what’s the role of technology in feelings, in body contact, sometimes I feel, specially in Berlin where locals are so distant, that part of this technological world focused in developing rational skills, forgets constantly about feelings, the effects of a hand on a shoulder, of saying hello to a stranger that you’ve seen several times in the same Cafe, of a shared silence, of a kiss, of a smile.
We were about all this things, about how women in society still have a difficult role, specially if you don’t fit in the role of the woman-winner who lives for working or seeks recognition, neither in the woman submissive role, when individuality does not conflict with fact of community building, more hard questions to think about.
By now it was already a long day, but still one more appointment, meeting people from Loomio.
Loomio is an open-source software platform for group decision-making, being built by a social enterprise cooperative founded by Occupy activists, technologists and social entrepreneurs in New Zealand. Loomio is currently used by Diaspora project as their making-decission tool.
They were here just for a couple of days, I friend of mine had put us in contact, what a great thing, since they are really great people. Another interesting conversation went on, Loomio came out of the need to help in making-decision processes, all those who have participated in any of the take to the streets done by any of occupy movements, 15M, OWS, Jan25, occupygezi, occupyBrasil, etc have a very clear understanding of the complexity of making decisions together, so when you claim for a direct-partipatory democracy, what are you talking about and how do you carry it out? The answer is, no clue how to do it.
So Loomio, started this process of understanding how technology would help, they use it themselves, they build a cooperative around it, the had help from others but had to develop it themselves, they’ve built a team of 15 people, and they already have thousands of users.
Good things around Loomio, they are not focus on technology, thought they develop it, they are based on the free software community but they do agile development where they get feedback from any kind of profile users, families that use the tool to choose Christmas presents, small business, communities like Diaspora, NGOs, etc… that means that those who have to use the tools are involved in the process of developing them.The tool is just 18 months old, so is under-construction, though is quite solid and well thought already.
The best thing of having dinner with Loomio people was to share perspectives about technology, the shared view of having to connect the two world, technology and social, the believe in that social participation in decision-making processes would lead us to a better world. The bad thing, they had to leave early in the morning, so the talk was too short, too many topics still to want to talk about, but there is a fact, we will be in touch, and I’ll try to help them to have more groups in Spain involved with Loomio, since I think both are in the right moment to do experiments with technology applied to social needs.
After this long day, which I really enjoyed at all levels, the challenge still is how to connect those two worlds, to which I feel I belong to, how to converge becoming cyborg with building a better world for everyone, how to be on one side of the screen but at the same time sharing a look of complicity or how the proximity of body makes you feel specially good.