Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Modular personal tech scene

Warren Ellis talking about using an old iPad as an Internet radio device. This is where my solarpunk experiments are also leading me. What's interesting about solar power is that it turns energy into a scarce resource, rather than a commodity. This means you've got to start being careful with it. Making decisions. Choosing priorities.

And it turns out, for me at least, that coupling "parcels" of functionality to particular hardware is a good "energy accounting" practice. I can ring-fence off particular functions on my life until I have the energy for them, and it forces me to think through what I consider to be essential. Not enough power to fire up my old Nexus tablet? RSS feeds can take a bit of a back seat then. Nothing urgent there.

The second advantage is that it's easier to work with an ecosystem of old devices - finding a single, all-powerful "god" device to do everything you wanted costs a lot of money. And these days, they make those things unfixable, so if one function goes down (like the camera module, or an app becomes incompatible), you're looking at replacing and checking through all your functions at the same time. Convenient devices will always give you a (bigger) headache at upgrade or replacement time.

Contrariwise, limiting your scope - of purchases, of software, etc - means you have a much more modular setup. I mean, it's never perfect - one should always assume that technology is a bastard. But it's easier to have one, less essential part of your life knocked out than the key bits unexpectedly.

On the downside, backups multiply accordingly. But again, at least you're able to change or reinstate your backups at a smaller level. What's that saying about eggs and baskets?

Modular personal tech ecosystems. Seriously, the future. Now we just need to get over our taboo about federating tech support within local communities ;)

No comments: