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Appropriate Tech Resources [Design
Posted on March 25, 2015 @ 05:24:00 AM by Paul Meagher

In my last blog, Appropriate Technology, I defined the term and played with an application of the definition to computing and came up with an idea for labor intensive computing (or bicycle-powered computing).

Since then I have done more research on the topic of appropriate technology. I want to share with you three additional resources that I found useful.

The Shumacher Center for New Economics publishes articles and videos on appropriate technology. Their YouTube Channel publishes presentations taking place at the institute and you can also access old video footage of Fritz Shumacher presentations. Fritz Shumacher wrote the founding book, Small is Beautiful, and this is the first of three short clips by Shumacher on how he arrived at the idea of Appropriate Technology.

The sustainability wiki Appropropedia.org also has a good section on appropriate technology. It was here that I encountered Paul Polak and his two critical articles on Appropriate Technology efforts to date.

Paul Polak appears to be one of the leading thinkers on appropriate technology today even though he is critical of the business approach used to date. Paul has a website PaulPolak.com where you can learn more about him and his efforts to combat poverty using a for-profit approach. He publishes interesting blogs, videos, and books. Paul is designing technology for people who make under $2 a day, however, the market for his technology is massive which means it has the potential to be profitable at scale. Paul is doing a type of design that many of us are not familiar with, design for radical affordability, and he claims that this type of design involves adherance to 8 principles. This collection of principles he calls "Zero-Based Design" and you can read more about it on his Design page.

One aspect of Paul's character that intrigues me is that he appears to be incredibly business-saavy. What he has to say about design and product development apply not just to designing products for his target market of extremely low income earners, but to designing products for any market. Here is Paul discussing the importance of designing for a market. It is worth watching.

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