While I agree in part on what you are saying and think I understand your take on the other parts, I disagree on the way your are describing it. Where I do not agree with you in general is the way you describe ‘success-related’ business practices, like references to “losers”.
There are a number of things you leave out of the picture when taking this approach to inform and you try to convince others. First the ‘definition of success’ is entirely subjective and personal and in the way you formulate it, imho you align it too much with how it is defined by (capitalist? western?) society.
Second there is the ‘concept of freedom’ which should allow any individual to be ‘unsuccessful’ in the eyes of others, i.e. not strive for common definitions of success, but instead pursue personal goals. If that warrants the label of ‘loser’ by anyone else, then this may indicate a shortcoming or lack of understanding in the other (unless of course your goals are unethical or even immoral, in which case judgment is warranted).
Finally there is the ‘concept of value’ and ‘learning how to create value’ in order to achieve personal success. And strongly related to that is the ‘concept of failure’. All are in the eye of the beholder, entirely subjective as well. What one perceives as worthless gives another great joy. The persons “making millions of almost useless and unwanted pieces of tech” as you describe it, are mostly stemming from the worthwhile efforts by millions of people that learn how to create value, and hence give meaning to their life.
And yes, many of these are failures, while many others are not. Failures, but just in the eyes of others, or maybe failures by your own perception. Failures can be devastating, or they can just constitute valuable lessons-learned. In other words failures can be (and often are) of great value. Personally I think we need to fail first to truly successful. And we need to continue to experience ‘failures’ both big and small on our path to success. “Fail fast, and fail often” is a credo in IT and startup culture, and it has merit.
After all, if we look at all those tech billionaires on their rise and rise of (materialistic and shallow definitions of) success, they get into places where good human beings should not want to be: having their moral and ethical values entirely wrong or warped and lacking in empathy for people in general and care for the world at large. They become vain, selfish individuals. Maybe they can live with that - there are studies that indicate many of them are sociopaths or even psychopaths - but maybe they also have those restless nights where they are thinking over their lives with thoughts of “What is my true impact on the world?”, “Am I truly successful? Am I worth the respect of others?”, etc.
So now back to Small Tech. Is it a novel idea? No, not by any means. But it is an underused and undervalued business approach. And related to a neglected and underappreciated philosophy of life: the philosophy where true human values prevail, like modesty and empathy and pursuing happiness instead of wealth. And if we do not act, then our ‘modern-capitalism-driven’ trends will continue to diminish the value of this philosophy.
BTW Note my careful choice of words in saying ‘modern capitalism’. I don’t want to be dragged into populistic discussion by people saying I am a ‘communist’ by my criticising capitalism (or even to be called a ‘socialist’ in the Orwellian meaning of the word that populistic propaganda tries to bestow on this term). There are many flavours of capitalism. Some may even work in the long run. Forbes recently defined our current form as ‘fake capitalism’:
So what Aral Balkan is trying to do in his bullet point list of what constitutes Small Tech, is to define one approach to a new perspective on doing business in tech. He is suggesting making choices that can be considered best-practices and that - when followed en masse - lead to a better world. He offers handholds. But such a small article can of course only touch the tip of the iceberg, and not all of his bullet point suggestions need to be necessarily adopted. There are many flavours here as well. For example, the approach taken by zebrasunite.com of ‘becoming a Zebra, not a Unicorn’ is another one. And they can be combined at will. You are free to pick and choose what works best for you.
And this is where Humane Technology comes into the picture and our Humane Tech Community initiative kicks off. We should see Humane Tech as a new area of expertise, a complete subject area that is a field of study in its own right. As I see it, in the future, you should be able to go to university to do a CS/BS combinational study of ‘Humane Technology’ and get your PhD in that. Eventually there will be many Humane Technology experts, consultants, professors and other authorities in the field.
The role of the Humane Tech Community and the Center for Humane Technology in this, is to lay the foundational framework for this new knowledge area. We do this by collecting all the existing solutions, insights, experiences, philosophies and lessons-learned that already exist, and create a pervasive network of like-minded initiatives and partners to continuously improve this foundation, adding new solutions and making the whole ever more comprehensive, applicable and there actionable. It is very much a holistic approach, requiring inputs from all walks of life and knowledge.
We all know that there are many highly valuable unique selling points (USP’s) to be had when walking the humane technology path. This means that as we go along on our quest, we will increasingly show the attractiveness of adopting new practices to the wider world. And our community growth will come natural, as people get really excited when they see the possiblities. Our community principle of participation being ‘fun and rewarding’ will certainly help in that as well.
Having all the frameworks and methodologies in places in a similar vein to what Aral Balkan and many others are promoting means that as the adoption of Humane Technology increases - and business models change as a result of that - we will also evolve towards different, vastly improved and sustainable economic models that are applied to our broader society.
I realise this is all very high level still, and many of the concepts we talk about are really abstract and enormously complex, but this is actually a point where humanity can truly thrive. After all, the multitudes of mankind can achieve unbelievable things if we all set our minds and efforts to a common cause, as history has proven. We did go to the moon, and are now aspiring to go to Mars very soon (which imho is setting the wrong priorities, but that is a whole different story altogether).
Given our Mission and Vision and the storytelling we adopted at our community it all boils down to this:
We are building grand pyramids again, and we are building them now, in the present: We are building The Pyramids of Humane Technology and I am very, very proud of anyone of you great Humane Technology Activists who joined the cause, and who have decided to become a modest and honest Pyramid Builder, no matter how small or large your contributions are!
Let’s roll up our sleeves and start hewing those stones, people!
Onwards to Human Flourishing