I like this this project, and the attempts to find a way to push technological development forward in a way that doesn't replicate the manifold flaws of the techno-utopianists. Democratisation of power must happen within the design, development and delivery of technologies.

Yet I find that lingering problems of the technologist's mindset remain, and ones that are often associated with technological optimism.

These problems can be viewed through how the philosopher Heidegger's (who I think has been referenced here before) talked about them. He said the modern world is 'revealed' to us not as something with its own integrity and purpose, but rather as a resource or 'standing reserve' to exploit. But it's so much more than this for current technologists, because they see the world 'revealed' to them via digital tech, which for, them, appears as unlimited and undeniably efficacious in application (I go on about that here: https://disassemble.substack.com/p/menopause-is-a-problem-lets-fix-it) .

The issue with technologists (and as a UX designer / User researcher, I include myself here), but especially for tech optimists who I've come across, is that they cannot extricate themselves from this mindset. For them, the world they come into, including the language, infrastructure and habits prefigures how a perceived situation (from the financial, to the social to the environment) will unfold. Problems are created and tech is inevitably the answer. You might call this solutionism - but it's more than that, because it's also about the creation and abstraction of problems. I think it's fairly evident why this itself is a problem.

In order to counter this, the entire 'background' that enables this way of thinking needs to be questioned - which is hard when assumes the outlook of the optimist. It's only then that it's much easier to imagine that there are ways of being in the world - aligning, situating, de-growing, or simply doing less ('Design for the Pluriverse' is a good book that references these ideas).

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Hi, thank you for this super thoughtful response!

When writing, I decided to focus the essay on forms of action - negative (like protest and regulation) or positive (like creating new tech) - since I was responding mainly to the trend for technologists *not* to see themselves as political agents. I can see how this might still come off as narrow or deterministic, though, and I guess I can only hope that folks scope their problems more broadly than the menopause detector - with an emphasis on entire systems rather than particular technologies.

Anyway, I appreciate the analysis! I'll check out Design for the Pluriverse - we read Design Justice a bit ago as a community, so seems super up our alley.

We're also thinking about republishing some responses to this piece in a later newsletter. Would you be open to us sharing yours?

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Thanks for the response Jasmine. Yeah, I definitely sense this manifesto is written in response to technologists thinking they can be apolitical, and I think you make clear-eyed arguments about why this is not possible. I would only suggest that that technologists are always even more than that - I see them as ontological agents, who are shaped by the conditions of material experience, which they then shape in response.

I'd be more than happy for you to republish my response. Though I notice I did a pretty poor job with copy editing - some missing or repeated words!

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yep wish we could edit comments. we'll do our best on charitable copyedits - thanks for engaging & letting us share!

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Thanks for writing this. As a former tech VC, I think your point that many of the interesting companies you cited as often funded differently matters in their overall relationship to growth and how they treat their employees. I’m eager to learn more about Reboot and help out if I can. Thanks for having the courage to write this!

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thanks for sharing, Jasmine 🙏🏼

i look forward to learning more about your techno-optimism...

i'd also like to put my recent post (re: digital heroin) on your radar. https://opentochange.substack.com/p/growing-up-before-digital-heroin

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