At Thingscon last month in Rotterdam, I sampled various talks and sessions. I ended up somewhere halfway in a contribution by Sarah Kiden (currently a research fellow at University of Dundee). She mentioned the ‘radio in a bucket’ project in Uganda, as illustration how to bring technology into the hands of more people by removing some of the thresholds and fears. Radio in a bucket is precisely that: it’s everything you need to create a local radio station, packaged in a bucket. The bucket serves as a way to appear familiar to those who normally don’t interact with (high) tech devices. The familiarity of the bucket as everyday object removes some of the apprehension of using the technological devices in the bucket.
Hide Tech as it were, not High Tech.
I liked this example for the balance it was trying to find. Regularly when technological complexity is hidden from someone using the technology, it takes away agency. I cannot even change the lights on my car these days, because the entire front is integrated into a single object. Nor can I access all the sensors and software in my car. It renders me helpless whenever something needs fixing on the car.
The Ugandan examples is about hiding some of the technological complexity to stimulate agency. To take away initial apprehension, do I dare touch the device, so curiosity can take root (what happens if I flip this switch?).
What tech should be packaged in a ‘bucket’ for your to adopt it more easily. For instance distributed alternatives to social media platforms. What Hide Tech would encourage you to do more?