I want to start this post by acknowledging that technology is exciting, making stuff is fun and sharing that stuff and how to build it makes all of our lives better. I recently started reading an autobiography by Olaudah Equiano with a long winded title about his experience with being abducted and thrown into slavery. While his account of the institution of slavery is well worth reading, what struck me is the description of his life before being forced into slavery. He was a young boy and he and his family were subsistence farmers. They made their own homes with local materials, made their own pottery and grew their own cotton which they turned into thread and then into fabric. There were no beggars and no one was idle. Everyone ate. It reminds me that life really isn’t very complicated. We need safety, food and those we love. That’s it. I feel like technology should enable us to firstly do those things more easily and secondly play.
Inspired by simplicity, I want to build something like this:
When I go for a walk I see leaves shaking in the wind and water flowing down streams. Sure, you could build a giant turbine to pick up this energy. But I imagine a world full of little simple generators like this shake generator. It’s hard to build a turbine but it’s easy to attach a shake generator to some fabric or hang it from a string while rushing current goes by. Its shear simplicity as a bit of power generation, would make it very easy to incorporate into the design for a larger generator. What’s more is that the design would be naturally fault-tolerant. If any one generator goes out, the rest can still generate power.
Sure you might need hundreds, even thousands of these things to power your home. I’m ok with that. A shake generator hanging from some vibrant cloth could be quite beautiful. Having several thousand would be dazzling.