Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

26 Jan 2010

Transition: which technologies would you like to take with you into the future?

Categories: General

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Ana Simeon
26 Jan 5:36pm

Hey, great stuff! I’d like to add my mechanical typewriter which allows me to write letters and stories tidily and speedily without using electricity (and without feeling oppressed by the background noise of computers). Also treadle sewing machines – I have one from 1920 and it still works, love the hum and whirr.
Both of these technologies are akin to the bicycle – enable humans to be somewhat faster than otherwise (can you imagine sewing a shirt with just needle and thread?) but not so fast they leave their bodies behind!

Ana, Transition Victoria and Sierra Club of British Columbia

Penny Walker
26 Jan 6:49pm

Yep, I second the manual sewing machine. I use one passed on to by my Mum. Failing that, a good pack of steel needles and some good quality yarn. And one of those nifty loops which helps you thread a needle.

I’m also very fond of my mouli – a manual puree-maker.

Mmm. This is a very good question – I can see it being used in workshops etc to get a group thinking differently.

Steve Atkins
26 Jan 7:56pm

Very good point on the manual sewing machines. I recently rescued 3 antique Singer sewing machines – destined for the dump… I emailed the serial numbers to get them dated. Turns out the earliest one was built in Kilbowie, Scotland 1889 and it still works perfectly. 121 years old and still works great, amazing!!!

Nowadays we consider ourselves lucky if consumer stuff lasts beyond 5 years. eg, the toilet seat we bought from Focus has de-laminated itself within one year (I thought it was made of solid wood when we bought it).

Modern shopping is a con.

Here’s my list of 3 things I’d like to take into the future:

1. An instruction manual
2. A polishing cloth
3. A Genies lamp

Adrie Otte
26 Jan 8:55pm

Difficult question. I would absolutely want to take brewing techniques with me. I would not want to live in a world without beer! Second: bikes. Third: hot showers.

Beth Tilston
26 Jan 11:48pm

Bicycle powered washing machines. The washing machine is the one modern appliance I could not live without. Sometimes I sit in my kitchen and think about how it played such a large part in liberating women! Powering it by bike would stop people from being too liberal with how often they washed stuff though.

Ian Clotworthy
26 Jan 11:56pm

The internet without a doubt. It probably did more for the efficiency of business than anything since the telephone or perhaps even the railway.

27 Jan 12:30am

Birth control!

Steve Rogers
27 Jan 4:35pm

I’d keep computers and mobile phones and the Internet, and the valve amplifier, which is half of my chosen musical instrument.

Liane Salgado
27 Jan 7:40pm

1. Anesthesia
2. Birth control
3. Bicycles and all their replacement parts

Judith Broadhurst
28 Jan 1:48am

The Internet, including the Web. It has done more to help us understand each other and work together on change and projects than anything, ever. Plus, it makes it possible to work from home, which means more work for more people than strictly local jobs would and helps conserve resources (gas and oil, at least) and protect the environment (by avoiding commuter pollution).

28 Jan 8:11pm

Personally I don’t think that the internet will survive in its present form when the energy crunch hits. When it comes to the choice of electric for hospitals or electric for facebook which would you take.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Leonard Barrett and GreenFeed, Kit R. Kit R said: Which technologies would you like to take with you into the future? (Video) #transition #appropriatetech […]

Judy Skog
29 Jan 3:36am

Besides reliable birth control, I would add antibiotics, and some essential medical/surgical equipment/treatments (don’t have anything specific in mind at the moment)–and my bike and my sewing machine and my piano or other musical instruments.

Patrick Whitefield
30 Jan 6:27pm

People take electric light for granted. Having lived for several years without it I know what a blessing it is. If you ever doubt it try living a week in December without it. The utter luxury of being able to flick a switch and read a book as though it was daylight is … well, words fail me.

It’s also the most efficient way of lighting, even if the primary fuel is fossil. You get much more light out of a litre of parafin by using it generate electricity than by turning it into candles or burning it in a lamp. But of course you don’t need to use fossil fuel.

1 Feb 1:59pm

Good question but my choices would be:-
1)LED technology to get the most light from the least electricity.
2)Fuel cell technology for electric motive power without fossil fuels or polution.
3)Vertical axis wind turbines so each house/flat/mud hut can generate its own electricity for lights, computers, TVs etc.
4)Numerous hand tools for green woodworking and tree work without power tools.
5)Kefir culture – to grow on for sustainable healthy food.
6)Sourdough cultures – to grow on for better bread.

Max Oakes
1 Feb 7:39pm

Fave Future tech:
Water mills with no gears (Portuguese style), sawmills with wooden gears, flat belt drives, spoked wheels, canals, padded horse collars, ox yokes, selective breeding, shoes and clothes, dry stone walling, green oak style building, sailing boats which can tack (sail into the wind), champaigne chocolate truffle manufacture.

Nick Towle
2 Feb 1:53am

A decade ago Donella Meadows wrote a reflection on the Seven Sustainability Wonders of the World, a concept originally presented by Alan Durning. Your post reminded me of this and I have enjoyed sharing this with others over many years.

Here’s the link
which include items such as the clothes line, the ceiling fan, the condom.

I see this as a potentially powerful transition exercise in encouraging individuals to critically reflect on appropriate technologies for our future.

Thanks again for the inspiration.
Nick T

Andrew Loxham
2 Feb 10:47am

Many of the changes to be embraced will be functions of necessity. For Instance: There is a complete disconnection between the “mined abstraction” of Phosphate rock and Potassium salts which masks their scarcity and pushes their commodity price to alarming levels. These components are essential in NPK fertilizers, indeed the Extensive System of Agriculture is based on these components. In an ideal world we should all instantly adopt some of the community based “Dry Sanitation” in order to recover uncontaminated nutrients and ensure that land is not contaminated with heavy metals and poisoned as is the case in the simple application of Biosolids (These are clays abstracted from the sewage system in the UK- Incidentally this startling volume is in the order of 60 Million Tonnes per year!) Water and sewage power consumption amount to a mind blowing 40 Terra watts per year.
As an aside and to inform debate HALF of the UK’s carbon emissions are directly related to the Construction Industry. New sustainable building methods and community groupings will be needed. Food Security is at the heart of the changes and planners must wake up to the requirements of a future yet to unfold.
Those sponsors of Nuclear power know that Uranium is as prolific an element as Tin, they never divulge the fact that 99.3% of uranium is isotope 238. It is Uranium 235 that is used in the current range of reactors. ( No one would like to see the return of the Fast Breeder reactors!) Neither do they disclose the source of our western based Nuclear Power. The French national crime is committed in Niger one of the poorest countries in the World! We are inadvertent consumers of this electricity. Our Government is dealing (quietly….) in former CIS countries trying to obtain supplies of Uranium 235. The world is well past its Nuclear peak abstraction.
This little rant I hope informs, and perhaps may inspire that level of Integration so necessary for Survival. The differentiation of Adam Smith’s division of labour has a limited life after the rules of Capital were recently broken.

2 Feb 2:04pm

Having only just watched the movie and heard the obvious importance of clean fresh water I would like to know whatever happened to a device that I remember from one of the very last of the ‘Tomorrows World’ series on UK TV. Its was made very simply from some ordinary drain pipes feeding into a tank that was made from a polythene bin. The principal was that dirty water was allowed to settle out in the bottom of the tank and by repeatedly reversing the water flow, it would puddle the sediment into an almost impenetrable layer that had such fine silt in it that no bacteria could get through it. It was claimed that the resulting water was clean enough to drink. I can remember the presenter drinking from the hose pipe that came from the box submerged in the river.

This would really upset filter manufacturers and its slow flow may have been its downfall but does any one out there know what happend to this cheap design for filtering contaminated water?

3 Feb 8:38am

so good to hear about all the appropriate technologies…i second most if not all mentioned.

in addition

I would love to take these, albeit at a lesser use rate.

welding tools
a forge
valves for water and gas
glass and it’s applications in lenses
microscopes, glasses, binoculars
most somewhat simple measuring devices (i.e. clocks, thermometers, scales, etc.)