A quick history
In the early 1970s a radical magazine appeared with the title Undercurrents: The journal of radical science and people’s technology.
Undercurrents challenged the directions and uses of technology in modern societies, suggesting alternative, simpler, more humane pathways.It quickly gathered a body of loyal readers and a substantial ‘editorial collective’ guided by its founder, Godfrey Boyle.
In 1974 it was decided to create a book that would encapsulate the philosophy of Undercurrents, and what emerged (by 1976) was Radical Technology, whose 40th birthday this conference marks. Following modern custom, we now refer to that volume as RT 1.0, while the conference is RT 2.0.
This is what RT 1.0 had to say about itself
If you want to read the original Radical Technology book, a slightly grainy microfiche version can be downloaded on:
RT 1.0had a considerable influence within the ‘alternative movement’ and more broadly on the political left and the environmental movement as a whole. The book was also published in the USA and translated into German and Japanese.
It is impossible to sum up the spirit of RT 1.0 in a nutshell, but some idea can be gleaned from an interpretation of a drawing by Cliff Harper, whose work contributed so much to the original RT 1.0. These are the kinds of ideas that would have appealed to the original authors, and which will be subject to friendly criticism in the conference.
And what now?
Forty years on, we ask: Are any of those ideas still relevant today, or was the whole notion swallowed by history? Is this to be a birthday or a wake?
The conference revisits RT 1.0 in a cheerfully critical spirit, asking where it was right, where wrong, and what we can now learn from both success and failure. Are there forgotten ideas that can be given new life under modern conditions? Were there daft mistakes that are being made all over again?
We will discuss case studies of what really worked, and whether they can be more widely applied. We will explore visions for the future both hopeful and terrifying. Above all, now that humanity stands on the brink of catastrophic changes, what can the spirit of Radical Technology offer to help avoid disaster? Has its moment really come, or is simply time to wave goodbye?