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Demotech research wiki: Design / D25NotesThanhDemotech
PART A: GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF DEMOTECH
We have talked a lot about the base of Demotech’s design initiatives and about the utmost aim at Demotech, which is people’s welfare, but we have not discussed what the underlying goals are. Let’s start with the name DEMOTECH, which means democracy supporting technology. Before I came to Demotech, I was only familiar with the word democracy meaning the political regime that is being used to govern countries by capitalistic authority. Here I started wondering what democracy actually means, beceause I did not understand the link between democracy and technology. One is politics, one is technology. Demotech is working for people and people’s well-being, especially the poor. I really got confused because I was not able to link these three things together to see the big picture of Demotech. Is this purely a non-profit organization that works for certain social issues? If so, what is the role of democracy and politics here? I decided to look it up again in a dictionary to get the real meaning of democracy. It said “democracy is equality in treatment, without discrimination amongst classes in society”. I vaguely figured out a part of the relationship between democracy and technology, but did not completely understand the philosophy behind it, until I finished the talk with Jaakko (he is a student that has been working for Demotech for two years)
Let’s explain it step by step to grasp the link between these two concepts. As we all know, there are always groups of people that have more controlling power than others in society. This derives from many reasons and one of those is the disparity between the wealthy and the poor. The poor are the ones who suffer the most when the conflicts caused by disparity become bigger and bigger. These conflicts raised the following question at Demotech: “Can we maintain our democracy, integrity as a nation and safety in the public domain? Can we maintain our moral standards, while more than 5 billion people’s life standard is unacceptable?” as stated in the article “Technology for ten billion people”. In order to avoid those conflicts Demotech strives towards improving the current “democracy”. To achieve this, there must be a change in the economic system through redistribution of the wealth within society. As a result of this redistribution, living standards of the poor will be improved and disparity in society will be considerably lessened. According to Demotech, “democracy” refers to a profound change in terms of both citizenship and social status, not only on the surface. Therefore, the current system needs to be improved in terms of “Demotech democracy”.
The next question will be “How do we redistribute the wealth?” Sharing our affluence? We will definitely not do that and our globalized market and the current industrial system do not allow us to do that either. According to Demotech, the way to achieve that is TECHNOLOGY. She brought in the new concept “Technology within Poverty” as a tool to help the poor survive. The concept works best in combination with the principle of OPEN SOURCE RESEARCH and DEVELOPMENT so that the technology is available for every single person to access and improve and above all, to reach DEMOCRACY. We can clearly see this through the slogan "More joy per person". According to her arguments, if people are able to master technology to serve them, they will not depend on others. If so, certain individuals will not have a chance to take advantage of being more powerful than the rest. Thus, there will not be a disparity that is too deep in economy and society; so maintaining the social equality in terms of status, wealth, etc is possible. In order to do this, the designer has the very first and important role. Turning back to the concept “Technology within poverty”, this indicates the way of using forgotten and improbable sources at local places to produce the best quality products at the lowest cost, mainly to help the poor survive and bring "more joy per person". “Technology within poverty” also strongly emphasizes on the technological information transfer. All knowledge has to be easy to understand, to imagine and propagate to others. That is the reason why the role of the designer is extremely appreciated. This is the one who will bring in initiatives or synthesize all separate ideas and demands from people into an accomplished design. Additionally he will test and improve designs until attaining to perfection; and especially make all the information concerning construction process, know-how and technique accessible to everyone.
That is the fundamental philosophy within Demotech and it obviously shows the way to achieve Demotech’s goals. It will be more evident when examining following example. Assume a small village of around 100 people but just one is able to make a water pump to utilize the available underground water. He accidentally has the power over the rest and the others will depend on him a lot. Since that person can make money with his know-how, this leads to conflicts and disparity in terms of wealth, status, etc. If everyone is able to make the water pump, the democracy will be remained. That is the idea of democracy and technology.
The combination of these two elements is awesome. Getting a good grip on this helps to understand why in this article, the author suggested adding “AND ECONOMY” to the word “ENVIRONMENT”. As said earlier, according to Demotech you can change the economy via technology and once you change the economy, you are able to bring a better life to people. While doing this, it will affect certain people’s interests and these people are major representatives of some culture, for example: Western culture. That is the reason why the methods to achieve results pointed out in Article 9 part c are counter-culture. Am I right?
Through all of that, we can see Democracy and Technology closely linked to each other. In my opinion, technology is the method to improve the current democracy (utmost goal) so can we say technology is supporting democracy instead of the other way around?
One more thing that I want to bring in to discuss here is the development of self-reliance design into a new generation of technology. I find all the ideas and philosophy that we have discussed above interesting and fantastic. But can it take over the role of modern technology that is capital-intensive, labour-intensive and requires being dependent within some limit? I do not deny the spectacular performance of “Technology within poverty” but we still need the modern technology simultaneously, don’t we? After surviving due to “Technology within Poverty”, what will be next? In order to easily trace this argument, we can examine the following example.
Television is an “old-fashioned” technology compared to information industry and computer. You can work alone on Internet to design or launch a website for your own but you cannot make a television program all by yourself. Computer and Internet are very well-illustrated example for self-reliance technology. However, you still need the capital-intensive and labour-intensive technology to build the basic foundation in order to soar from that. How much money was spent and how many people were involved to invent the computer for you today to work on independently? On the other hand, what will be next after computer and information technology? Will the next level of basic foundation after computer and information require a capital-intensive and labour-intensive industry to develop or design for self-reliance will undertake that task?
I.2. Demotech’s targets and achievements:
Through the article and comment above, you readers are able to draw some conclusion for yourself about Demotech. However, I would like to sum up briefly Demotech’s targets and achievements. Demotech wants to improve the democracy we are currently having by creating an open source of information-especially technology information. Demotech believes that providing everyone the same level of knowledge via OPEN SOURCE will give every single person the real power to sustain and make their lives better and better. If the democracy were improved, the guideline “more joy per person” would automatically be attained. That is the reason why Demotech is a design organization for self-reliance. Besides that, self-reliance can be understood in a wider notation that is Demotech always tries to keep all its designs as “simplest” as possible. “Simplest” here means all designs have to be easy to produce, to install, to use, to fix and easy to transfer that knowledge to as many people as possible. Moreover, designs have to mobilize all locally-available or forgotten resources. In order to achieve all those goals, it is not that easy because it requires designers to challenge their minds a lot to figure out the best solution attaining all above aims and requires non-stop improvement.
Until now, “Rope pump” has been one of the most successful achievements at Demotech. Ten years of restless experiment and research is not a short period of time, but it is just nothing compared to achievements of the currently improved system. Rope pump is one of many designs at Demotech and of course it meets all requirements from Demotech’s targets as said earlier. Thousands of people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Africa, etc have been successfully producing and installing this model for daily needs of water. In addition, Demotech has been working on many other sanitation systems, NightReader-a design of study light with LED’s, DemoCamp units, etc. One thing is for sure is that all designs now or later must always satisfy Demotech’s requirements to achieve its own goals. This will help you readers be more connected to targets of the bookkeeping system in the following chapter and during the rest of the report.
Chapter 2: Introduction of Demotech’s bookkeeping system
Noticias del Agua
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