index.md 10.3 KB
Newer Older
1
2
3
---
title: "About"
date: 2019-06-12T09:26:11+01:00
4
5
6
menu:
 main:
  weight: 2
7
summary: "We’re a tiny and independent two-person not-for-profit based in Ireland. We’re working on building the Small Web."
8
9
---

10
11
# About

12
__We’re a tiny and independent two-person not-for-profit based in Ireland.__
13

14
We’re working on building the Small Web.
15

16
17
18
Read on to learn more about [the foundation](#the-foundation), [Small Technology](#small-technology), and the [Small Web](https://ar.al/2020/08/07/what-is-the-small-web/).

## The Foundation
Laura Kalbag's avatar
Laura Kalbag committed
19

20
21
<img src='laura-osky-aral.jpeg' alt='Laura, Osky, and Aral' style='filter: sepia(100%) hue-rotate(42deg); border: 5px solid #333;'></img>

22
We’re [Laura Kalbag](https://laurakalbag.com) and [Aral Balkan](https://ar.al) (and Oskar the huskamute). We live and work in Cork, Ireland.
23

24
25
Since 2014, we’ve been advocating for regulation of surveillance capitalism, investment in ethical alternatives, and carrying out [research and development](/research-and-development) on ethical alternatives.

26
After [leaving the UK](https://ar.al/notes/so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish/) and [moving to Ireland](https://laurakalbag.com/move-to-ireland/), we set up the Small Technology Foundation with the mission to evolve the Internet so each one of us can own and control our own place on it.
27

28
We strive to follow [the principles of Small Technology](#small-technology) in our work.
29

30
We don’t take money from surveillance capitalists and we exist thanks to [the support of individuals like you](/fund-us).
31

32
### History
33

Laura Kalbag's avatar
Laura Kalbag committed
34
Here is a short timeline of important events in our history.
35

36
37
38
<ul class='timeline'>
  <li>
    <h3>2014</h3>
39
    <p>We set up <a href='https://ind.ie'>Ind.ie</a> as a not-for-profit in Brighton, UK</p>
40
41
42
  </li>
  <li>
    <h3>2015</h3>
43
    <p>We release the <a href='https://ind.ie/heartbeat'>Heartbeat</a> pre-alpha. Heartbeat is the spiritual precursor to Tincan. We realise, however, that our current technology stack is not fit to take the project further. In dire need of funds, we invest our remaining money to develop <a href='https://better.fyi'>Better Blocker</a>.</p>
44
  </li>
45
46
47
48
  <li>
    <h3>2015</h3>
    <p>The Conservatives win re-election in the UK with a manifesto that details plans to pass a draconian surveillance law (the IP Act), hold a referendum on leaving the EU, and scrap the Human Rights Act. As this is fundamentally incompatible with our mission, <a href='https://ar.al/notes/so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish/'>we decide to leave the UK</a>.</p>
  </li>
49
  <li>
50
    <h3>2016</h3>
51
    <p>We move to Sweden. We release <a href='https://better.fyi'>Better Blocker</a>, a no-nonsense tracker blocker. Laura’s book, <a href='https://abookapart.com/products/accessibility-for-everyone'>Accessibility For Everyone</a>, is published.</p>
52
53
54
  </li>
  <li>
    <h3>2017</h3>
55
    <p>We start working with the City of Ghent on project Indienet to explore how Small Technology principles can be applied at the city level.</p>
56
57
58
  </li>
  <li>
    <h3>2018</h3>
59
    <p>We leave Sweden and <a href='https://laurakalbag.com/move-to-ireland/'>move to Ireland</a>.</p>
60
61
62
  </li>
  <li>
    <h3>2019</h3>
63
64
65
66
67
    <p>We launch the Small Technology Foundation and <a href='https://sitejs.org'>Site.js</a>. We continue our research and development.</p>
  </li>
  <li>
    <h3>2020</h3>
    <p>Site.js matures and now runs our own sites and we fork it to start on the next stage of our research and development: to build the <a href='https://ar.al/2020/08/07/what-is-the-small-web/'>Small Web</a>.</p>
68
  </li>
Aral Balkan's avatar
Aral Balkan committed
69
70
71
72
  <li>
    <h3>2021</h3>
    <p>We’re working on <a href='https://github.com/small-tech/domain'>Domain</a> as the first step towards the Small Web. Watch <a href='https://small-tech.org/videos/small-is-beautiful-11/'>Small is Beautiful #11</a> for a preview of what it does and how it works.</p>
  </li>
73
</ul>
74

75
76
## Small Technology

Aral Balkan's avatar
Aral Balkan committed
77
Small Technology are everyday tools for everyday people designed to increase human welfare, not corporate profits.
78
79
80
81

### Small Tech is…

<ul class='box-list'>
82
83
84
  <li><a href='#easy-to-use'>easy to use</a></li>
  <li><a href='#personal'>personal</a></li>
  <li><a href='#private-by-default'>private by default</a></li>
85
86
  <li><a href='#share-alike'>share alike</a></li>
  <li><a href='#peer-to-peer'>peer to peer</a></li>
87
  <li><a href='#interoperable'>interoperable</a></li>
88
  <li><a href='#zero-knowledge'>zero knowledge</a></li>
89
90
  <li><a href='#non-commercial'>non-commercial</a></li>
  <li><a href='#non-colonial'>non-colonial</a></li>
91
  <li><a href='#inclusive'>inclusive</a></li>
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
</ul>

### Personal

Small Technology are everyday tools for everyday people. They are not tools for startups or enterprises.

### Easy to use

100
Personal technology are everyday things that people use to improve the quality of their lives. As such, in addition to being functional, secure, and reliable, they must be convenient, easy to use, and inclusive. If possible, we should aim to make them delightful.
101

102
__Related aspects:__ [inclusive](#inclusive)
103
104
105

### Non-colonial

106
Small technology is made by humans for humans. They are not built by designers and developers for users. They are not built by Western companies for people in African countries. If our tools specifically target a certain demographic, we must ensure that our development teams reflect that demographic. If not, we must ensure people from a different demographic can take what we make and specialise it for their needs.
107

108
__Related aspects:__ [share alike](#share-alike), [non-commercial](#non-commercial), [interoperable](#interoperable)
109
110
111
112
113

### Private by default

A tool respects your privacy only if it is private by default. Privacy is not an option. You do not opt into it. Privacy is the right to choose what you keep to yourself and what you share with others. “Private” (i.e., for you alone) is the default state of small technologies. From there, you can always choose who else you want to share things with.

114
__Related aspects:__ [zero knowledge](#zero-knowledge), [peer to peer](#peer-to-peer)
115

116
### Zero knowledge
117

118
Zero-knowledge tools have no knowledge of your data. They may store your data, but the people who make or host the tools cannot access your data if they wanted to.
119
120

Examples of zero-knowledge designs are end-to-end encrypted systems where only you hold the secret key, and peer-to-peer systems where the data never touches the devices of the app maker or service provider (including combinations of end-to-end encrypted and peer-to-peer systems).
121

122
__Related aspects:__ [private by default](#private-by-default), [peer to peer](#peer-to-peer)
123
124


125
### Peer to peer
126

127
Peer-to-peer systems enable people to connect directly with one and another without a person (or more likely a corporation or a government) in the middle. They are the opposite of client/server systems, which are centralised (the servers are the centres).
128

129
On peer to peer systems, your data – and the algorithms used to analyze and make use of your data – stay in spaces that you own and control. You do not have to beg some corporation to not abuse your data because they don’t have it to begin with.
130

131
__Related aspects:__ [zero knowledge](#zero-knowledge), [private by default](#private-by-default)
132
133


134
### Share alike
135

136
Most people’s eyes cloud over when technology licenses are mentioned but they’re crucial to protecting your freedom.
137

138
Small Technology is licensed under Copyleft licenses. Copyleft licenses stipulate that if you benefit from technology that has been put into the commons, you must share back (“share alike”) any improvements, changes, or additions you make. If you think about it, it’s only fair: if you take from the commons, you should give back to the commons. That’s how we cultivate a healthy commons.
139

140
__Related aspects:__ [interoperable](#interoperable), [non-colonial](#non-colonial), [non-commercial](#non-commercial)
141
142
143

### Interoperable

144
Interoperable systems can talk to one another using well-established protocols. They’re the opposite of silos. Interoperability ensures that different groups can take a technology and evolve it in ways that fit their needs while still staying compatible with other tools that implement the same protocols. Interoperability, coupled with share alike licensing, helps us to distribute power more equally as rich corporations cannot “embrace and extend” commons technology, thereby creating new silos.
145
146

Interoperability also means we don’t have to resort to colonialism in design: we can design for ourselves and support other groups who design for themselves while allowing all of us to communicate with each other within the same global network.
147

148
__Related aspects:__ [share alike](#share-alike), [non-colonial](#non-colonial)
149
150


151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
### Non-commercial

The primary purpose for Small Technology is not to make a profit but to increase human welfare. As such, they are built by not-for-profit organisations. Eventually, we hope that small technologies will be recognised for their contribution to the common good and therefore supported from the commons (e.g., from our taxes). In the interim, some methods for monetising Small Technology include:

  - Charging for hosting and maintenance services
  - Sales on App Stores (for native apps)
  - Donations and patronage
  - Grants and awards

Equity-based / Venture Capital investment is incompatible with Small Technology as the success criterion is the sale of the organisation (either to a larger organisation or to the public at large via an IPO). Small Technology is not about startups (temporary companies designed to either fail fast or grow exponentially and get sold), it’s about _stayups_ (sustainable organisations that contribute to the common good).

162
__Related aspects:__ [non-colonial](#non-colonial), [share alike](#share-alike), [interoperable](#interoperable)
163

164
### Inclusive {#inclusive}
165

166
Being inclusive in technology is ensuring people have equal rights and access to the tools we build and the communities who build them, with a particular focus on including people from traditionally marginalised groups. Accessibility is the degree to which technology is usable by as many people as possible, especially disabled people
167

168
Small Technology is inclusive and accessible.
169

170
With inclusive design, we must be careful not to assume we know what’s best for others, despite us having differing needs. Doing so often results in colonial design, creating patronising and incorrect solutions.
171

172
__Related aspects:__ [easy to use](#easy-to-use), [non-colonial](#non-colonial)
173
174

{{< fund-us >}}