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RTI’s Low-Tech Manifesto

Trash heaps of outdated PCs are being turned into a treasure trove of low-tech innovation by a group of feisty Brits. Learn about the manifesto behind the Redundant Technology Initiative mission.

It doesn’t matter how big your hard drive is, says James Wallbank of the Redundant Technology Initiative. It’s what you do with it that counts.

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Don’t pay with your money, but with your involvement: “No one is more aware of the value of participation than Bill Gates. He realizes that while you might buy his software, the way you’re really paying is with commitment: using Microsoft products to create content that other users can only access by purchasing Microsoft products themselves. Who is working for whom? We believe that we are already paying with our participation and our creativity.”

The Internet has changed the world: “People are saying that the Internet has failed to fulfill its promise, but right now, anyone in the developed world with trash technology and free software can broadcast opinions and ideas for free. That has never happened before.”

Just do IT: “We don’t care how big your hard disk is. In fact, the smaller, the better. What we care about is whether you have something to say, and whether you’ve actually done something with your technology. Whether it’s art, design, business, or troublemaking, we don’t care. It’s all about doing something and claiming the value you already have. You’re not what you buy, but what you do.”

Problems are good: “If you can afford it, use trash technology yourself. Economically, it’s a pain to repair old PCs, but in terms of training and educating your people, technical problems are an asset, not a problem. The best way to teach people about a local-area network is to put them in a room with broken computers and to tell them to create a local-area network. Put them in a room with a suite of plug-and-play PCs, and you’ve lost something.”

Ian Wylie (ian@wylienet.demon.co.uk), a Fast Company contributing editor, is based in London.

Read the feature: One Man’s Trash

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