If you’re reading this, you already know that Reporter : Geoengineering, self-driving cars and other mirages High technology will not allow us to maintain a viable planet. To prevent the decline of biodiversity and avoid climate chaos, more and more experts are suggesting “ Low technology », aka quiet technologies, technological systems that are both useful (they must meet a real need), sustainable (their environmental footprint must be minimal) and accessible (the greatest number must be able to build them, or at least understand them). Solar ovens, water makers, paddle drills… examples are legion. How to get familiar with this approach and integrate it into your life ? Reporter Made a short guide for you.
“ To open up its vision Low technologyyou have to read », believes Romain Colón de Carvajal, mechanical engineering teacher and methodology expert at Insa Lyon. Before getting your screwdriver, a short detour through the library is a must. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of tasks that marked the thought Low technologyAnd will make you want to play with your fingers again.
It’s impossible to talk about cool technology without mentioning this book. Ivan Ilyich, a major figure in political ecology, engages in a radical critique of industrialization, which deprives individuals of their autonomy and their knowledge. “ Castrated in his creativity »Man loses touch with the techniques that he no longer controls his physical relationship with the world. “ Man’s grip on tools is transformed into man’s grip on tools »He writes, before sketching out an alternative path: a “ friendly society “, “ Whereas the modern tool is at the service of the individual integrated into the community, and not at the service of a body of experts ». Ivan Ilyich did not call these devices “ Low technology »But we find in his reflection one of the guiding principles of this approach: the defense of useful and easily repairable techniques, which can be assigned by the greatest number.
||The Age of Low Technology — Towards a Technologically Sustainable Civilizationby Philippe Bihawix (Seuil Editions, 2014)|
This is a reference for anyone interested Low technology. The author, engineer and expert on mining resource constraints, tackles us for the run High technology, incompatible with the finite character of the earth’s resources. greedy for raw materials and energy, “ Green technology » A mirage, he explained. get away “ a few weeks », the techno-solutionists like to believe, are leading us straight to environmental and social disaster. The author praises and critiques kibble vending machines, 3D printers, and other electric scooters “ Low technology »And explore how they can enable us to live better to avoid future metal and oil shortages.
||Low-tech — Rethinking our technology for a sustainable worldBy Clement Chabot and Pierre-Alain Levêque (Rustica Editions, 2021)|
The two writers grew up in the 1980s nurturing dreams Low technology : Drive flying cars, go on vacation to other planets and furnish their homes with robots dedicated to their comfort. But the two engineers had to face the truth one day: the planet has its limits. They drew this book from their reflections, which is full of advice for tending to a quieter existence. From water-recycling showers to lacto-fermentation, through solar heating and cooking, one emerges from this lesson familiar with the catalog of existing solutions and equipped to adopt a more sober way of living. Which, on reflection, seems far preferable to intergalactic vehicles and other distractions High technology.
We also mention Technical systemJacques Ellul (Le Cherche Midi, 1977), in which the historian and sociologist tackled technocratic ideology, which reinforced the idea that progress could not and should not be stopped. Carburetor compliments Also worth a look is (La Decovert, 2010) by Matthew B. Crawford. If he does not address the question of specific technology in this essay, the American philosopher expresses an interesting reflection on the devaluation of manual crafts in the West. Finally, if you want historical insight into these issues, read on Technocritics – From the Rejection of the Machine to the Competition of Technologyby François Jarrige (La Découverte, 2014).
its philosophy Low technology Can also be discovered on podcasts. Here are two: “ Low-tech: Low tomorrow »The show aired a few weeks ago scientific method From Culture in France, and episode 7 of the podcast “ Seismic »Wherein Philip lays forth the future of the cause and method of behavior.
On the film side, we recommend 4 months in my biosphere And Nomade des Mers, stopovers for innovation. These documentaries, produced by Arte, follow explorer Corentin de Chatelperon on his travels in search of the best system. Low technology of the world. An inspirational televised ballad, which allows us to better understand the potential (and pitfalls) of this lifestyle change.
Once the brain is full, it’s time to get your hands dirty. If you want to make Low technology Your work, the low-tech school in Guingamp (Côtes-d’Armor) may interest you. Launched in March 2020, it is the first training course in France entirely dedicated to quiet technologies and the circular economy. Every year, it trains about fifteen young job seekers or people undergoing professional retraining. Students can be at the end of their course “ Low-Tech » or agents specializing in the circular economy.
No engineering school currently offers specialized training Low technology. However, a certain number of them refer to it from time to time and even offer courses on the process. In Insa Lyon, for example, Romain Colon de Carvajal taught his students “ Quiet design of the process ». Students build device prototypes Low technologyAssess the environmental and social impact of their projects, then register it under a free license.
Centrale Nantes also offers an alternative “ Low tech engineering ». Registered students learn to design objects, systems and services that are useful, sustainable and accessible. l’PNI Grenoble has, since this year, a program “ Track » : At the end of 379 hours of lessons, students learn to design cool and useful technological solutions for society, “ Breaking with the growth model » And “ Business as usual ».
If you want to get started without going to school, Low-Tech Lab has created a complete directory of movement actors. There are dozens of training institutes Low technology. A few examples: Tripalium, to build its own wind turbines, Fufolate, Ecocenter Tregor and Oxalis to build fuel-efficient wood cookers (or “ Rocket stove », which can be used to cook food and heat), Enerlog and Aezeo to learn how to build and repair hot air solar collectors and boiler wood stoves… Several association DIY workshops are also mentioned. Wood saws, hammers and drills will soon have no more secrets for you.
Once the theory is integrated, practice is the place. “ You just have to go ! » Clément Chabot, from Lo-Tech Lab, replied with a smile, when asked for advice on integration Low technology in his daily life. “ It’s okay to start small. You don’t have to put yourself under crazy pressure. »
The Low-Tech Lab site is full of tutorials to learn how to make things yourself Low technology, some of which are accessible to complete beginners. Cookware in the simplest (tested and approved Reporter), which allows food to be cooked with a limited amount of energy. It only requires a few wooden planks, nails, screws and insulating cloth. Once the basics of DIY are understood, you can gradually increase the difficulty (perhaps ?) start a development “ Low tech computer ».
But you don’t have to go that far to do well. “ The starting combo is dry toilet and pantry, Clement Chabot believes. With this, we are already well established in the future. » Don’t panic in case of difficulties. The engineer recommends an experimental approach: “ Every person has their own experience, their culture. We can try a technical system, and after a month, if we don’t like it, take it apart. “” We need to give ourselves the means to testPlenty of his colleague Quentin Mateus. Through experimentation, we often realize that it is not so complicated. »
Next step: Invent (and document) smart systems yourself, build a community and distribute them Low technology, lean towards more manual trades… According to Quentin Mathews, cool technologies don’t stop at home boundaries. They are part of a political process. “ for the moment, Low technology is associated with Do it yourself. We have to succeed in doing something that society can organize itself around. »