Low-tech technologies (Frugal Science Jugaad Science)

Session Title: Low-tech technologies (Frugal Science Jugaad Science)
Attendees (who was there?):
Akbar Arafatullah, Roshan Kumar Karn, Shams Jaber, S.P. Mohanty, Juan P Maestre, Akhsai M., Yuenyong (Ake) Nilsiam, Laura Olalde, Julieta Arancio, Paz Bernaldo, Gina Letie, Rafael Pezzi, Coco Coyle, Alejandro Nadra, Lawrence Nderu, Kshitiz Khanal, Nano Castro

Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):


Low tech technology

  • what exactly is technology ? Is does not have to be fancy and expensive

  • quality vs accessibility
    we have to find a right balance

  • accessible to build vs accessible to the final “user” ?

  • the simpler the tool, the easier to maintain/repair/use ?

  • paperfuge : good example where a $1 paper centrifuge can hit ~125000rpms vs usual commercial centrifuges which clock out at ~15000rpm

  • same with foldscope

  • traditional knowledge already exists, with more local context.
    Can we empower them to reuse that knowledge in new ways to solve new problems or add efficiency to new problems ?

  • read the book small is beautiful :smiley: :smiley:

  • the word “low-tech” doesnt make sense. (usually differentiating based on the first look of the tool)
    As long as something solves a problem efficiently.

  • What concrete steps can we take to facilitate this osmosis between tradition and solution ?

Appropedia : A community driven encyclopedia of “appropriate technologies” --really cool !!!

Understand the problem in the community first, and then empower them :: Capacity Building

Engaging with public…to help them understand the problems in their community,
and then trying to do capacity building so that they can solve it themselves using resources available to them.
Provide some form of mentorship all along the way.

Role of government in engaging the community and helping in this distillation of traditional knowledge into “cool” low-tech yet efficient tools ?

  • low cost solution vs a simple solution

  • which is the minimal technology that solves a problem ? what is the technology which solves a problem in the best way ?

  • Can we imbibe the hacker-maker philosophy into learning environments(schools) right from the beginning.
    Pretty much like Arvind Gupta in india who builds toys using straws, papers and other everyday objects.
    This would create a culture of trying to solve problems using the minimal resources, and creative thinking in terms of using resources in different ways.

  • Artificial Glacier example

  • Is the technology appropriate for a community ? One of the most important questions to ask and understand !!

  • A focus on the cultural change that has to be brought about

  • Jugaad !!! \m/


hei @spMohanty,
i’d love to discuss this further. missed the session…

i personally was questioning the examples you mentioned of the foldscope or paperfuge, cos i think they don’t tell the whole story.

and paper… it doesnt last in the rainy tropical environemnts.

another book to read is definately also “Design for the Real World”, Victor Papanek.

looking forward to more about this topic tonite…

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Hi @dusjagr,

Well, regarding the foldscope or the paperfuge, we did discuss the idea of “quality vs accessibility”…on what is the lower threshold of quality that you can live with if you have the possibility of practically reaching a billion people in comparison to a 100k privileged people.

And the example was brought up to point out that you can delegate “authenticity” to these low tech and low cost solutions by validating them against existing standards, possibly in an open and replicable way.

And coming to the idea of trying to imbibe the whole philosophy in learning environments, I would really love to have a repository of such examples where you teach absolutely anything at all using minimalistic resources (or stuff ANYONE can buy in the nearest supermarket :smiley: ) !! Would be a nice exercise in trying to come up with standard ways to document open hardware projects…just a bit simpler in this use case??

Lets set up openJugaad.org !!! 3:-) !!!

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I was on this session and I mentioned cuban technological desobedience and rikimbili, here is the link

they where obliged to create from closed tech in those years
I always like to imagine this situation but with open tech
maybe something in the line of flok society in Ecuador


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“Design for the other 90” is also a good book.

this a relatively new book of the anthropologist Arturo Escobar.
It has really interesting book. He start by asking… Design for a real world But which world? Which design? What real?
the book is in spanish
but the same ideas can be found in english (Notes on the ontology of design)

Here’s a link to a related session at GOSH 2018 Low-Tech Alternatives to High-Tech - Thursday

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