Technological Sovereignty

We deserve to have other technologies, something better than what we nowadays call Information and Communication Technologies. This book delves into the guiding principles of technological sovereignty and proposes new theoretical and practical descriptions of some initiatives developing free technologies. It deals with its psychological, social, political, ecological and economic costs while it relates experiences to create Technological Sovereignty.

The authors bring us closer to other ways of desiring, designing, producing and maintaining technologies. Experiences and initiatives to develop freedom, autonomy and social justice while creating autonomous mobile telephony systems, simultaneous translation networks, leaks platforms, security tools, sovereign algorithms, ethical servers and appropriate technologies among others.

From the introduction to Technological Sovereignty Vol.2,, which is available in English, French, and Spanish. The first volume is available in French and Spanish only.

Fermentation and Daily Life

There is a moment in the life of fruits and vegetables that has always puzzled and fascinated me. Put out a dish of strawberries, and in days some darker spots will appear. Maybe a thin tendril of mold sprouts out from the strawberry’s body. At this point, you can still eat it, simply by cutting off the moldy bit. But all of a sudden, the strawberry has clearly died. It’s inedible, sour. It has passed over in to the world of bacteria, mold, and minerals—it is no longer a self-regulating organism. It has stopped being an individual, but has become multitudes.

How does this happen? When is an organism living, and when is it dead? Where does death come from, and why does this change of state happen so quickly? Amazingly, we’ve developed some techniques to play with this boundary between life and death, stretch it, and blur it. I’m not talking about cryogenic freezing, blood transfusion, lab-grown meat, or any other modern technology. I’m talking about fermentation, the process of controlled decay of living organisms.

From coffee to ketchup, bread to sausage, wine to cheese, fermented foods are all around us. These types of fermentation tend to happen in far-off factories. Coffee berries are fermented before they’re roasted. To make ketchup, tomatoes are puréed en masse, left to rot, then heated to kill the bacteria. We usually don’t get the chance to see for ourselves the transformation of life—into other forms of life.

But you can. In this essay, I talk about fermentation: what makes it so magical, why people are so afraid of it. I talk about some strategies people use to make fermentation part of their daily life, and why modern life makes it so hard to do so. And finally, I speak to the ethics of fermentation—what we can learn from it and how it can help us think differently. [Read more…]

Historical Storage Cellars in Budapest

The Kőbánya district of Budapest is situated on the eastern margins of the Hungarian capital city. Beneath Kőbánya there is an extensive limestone layer, in which tunnels and passages have been made, some of which appear to date from the 13th century. In the 19th century, the limestone caverns of the Hungarian capital city Budapest were used for the refrigeration of perishable goods in large quantities.

This article analyses the architectural development of these evidently low-tech facilities, while also exploring their significant role in the city’s urbanisation. The technical functions and structure of the system of caverns may be useful as a resource for society in the future when the supply of fossil fuels runs out.

The effectiveness of the caverns as place for refrigeration can be demonstrated through climatic calculations. The cavern system has significant energy capabilities, given that there is a constant air temperature throughout the year.

Read more: Pilsitz, Martin, and Zsuzsanna Nádasi-Antal. “Historical storage cellars in Budapest: The architectural history and functional operation of an industrial building in 19th-century Hungary.” Építés-Építészettudomány (2018): 1-20.

How to Dredge Out the Netherlands without Fossil Fuels

The dredging industry has been the backbone of the Dutch economy for centuries. If canals, harbours and rivers weren’t dredged out for a few years, the whole country would literally grind to a halt. Today, dredging happens with oil powered ships. However, the Dutch waterways were dredged mostly by hand for centuries, using simple but ingenious tools. Could it be done again?

Windmill on Ice or Water Bearings Has Low Friction at Low Cost


Simon Gripenberg, an artist from Finland, developed new types of vertical windmills, inspired by ancient Persian windmills and built from recycled materials. Most interestingly, the windmills float in water or spin on ice, so that Gripenberg manages to obtain low friction at low cost. [Read more…]

Think Outside the Sewer

“Shit can move on trucks.” [Read more…]