Tech Choices

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Last updated: 3 December 2018


I've grown increasingly aware that my technology choices are not merely the stuff of practical everyday efficiency and expediency. The hardware and software we use mediate our information consumption but also our relationships and memories - as well as what we can create. Behind the colourful and playful world of platforms such as Instagram sit the most profitable companies the world has ever seen.

The choices I make about the technology I use affect every part of my life. They affect my productivity and ability to follow the career I've chosen. They affect the way I interact with family and friends. And they affect my inner life; the way that I see the world. To a great extent, then, thinking carefully about technology means deliberating on the kind of life I want to live.

This is a wiki page rather than a blog post as it will undoubtedly change over time. Writing it like this means I can change it - and track changes over time. I swing wildly between wanting things to 'just work' and solutions that would mean greater agency, but also greater inconvenience. This is undoubtedly due to the lack of a settled position, so the first thing to do is to come up with some general principles.

General Principles

  1. Technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  2. If you can't 'take it apart', you don't own it.
  3. Open Source is first an foremost a method of production.
  4. Ecosystems owned by technology companies = 'software with shareholders' (and should be avoided where possible)
  5. Privacy is a construct, but an important one. It has exchange value.
  6. Cryptography is a type of technology, and therefore subject to Principle 1.
  7. Governments should not use technology for bulk data collection (aka 'government surveillance')
  8. Corporate surveillance can be worse than government surveillance (due to Principle 4).
  9. The Cloud is simply putting your data on someone else's computer. It should be avoided where possible.

Audit of current technology

"I actually don't want a "dream setup." I know people who get everything in their work environment just so, but current optimization is long-term anachronism. I'm in the business of weak signal detection, so at the end of every year, I junk a lot of perfectly good habits in favor of awkward new ones."
- Clay Shirky


  • Lenovo ThinkPad X220 running Kubuntu 18.04
  • OnePlus 5
  • bq Cervantes 4 e-reader


I use these services (not, not just apps like Firefox) on a weekly basis:

References / Further reading