Welcome

Foreword: Envisioning a Sustainable Internet
Maddie Stone

Letter from the Editors
Michelle Thorne and Chris Adams

Designing Branch: Sustainable Interaction Design Principles
Tom Jarrett

Solarpunk and Other Speculative Futures

One Vision, One World. Whose World Then?
Vândria Borari and Camila Nobrega

The Museum of the Fossilized Internet
Gabi Ivens, Joana Moll and Michelle Thorne

Today Google Stops Funding Climate Change Deniers
Extinction Rebellion NYC

Repairing Our Relationship with Technology
Janet Gunter

Critical Art and Carbon Aware Design

The Hidden Life of an Amazon User
Joana Moll

Don’t Press Snooze: Design in a Crisis
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Design for Carbon-Aware Digital Experiences
Lu Ye

Signal: A Poem
Taylor Rowe

Sustainable Web Craft

10 Rules for Building a Low-Impact Website
Jesper Hyldahl Fogh

Sustainability in Software Engineering
Bill Johnson

Reflections on Running a Sustainable Digital Agency
Tom Greenwood

Hands-On Sustainable Web Design
Laurent Devernay

AI Promises and Perils

AI and Climate Change: The Promise, the Perils and Pillars for Action
Eirini Maliaraki

Alexa, Save the Planet
Brett Gaylor

Climate Action in Tech

Seeing Black and Green in Tech
Melissa Hsiung

If I am a Techie, How Can I Help Solve Climate Change?
Kamal Kapadia

Policy and Advocacy

The Story is a Forest: How to Talk About Climate Change
Christine LaRiviere

When Policy Responds to Reality: Transformative Policy Futures
Chenai Chair

Interconnected: Sustainability on the Agenda
Michael J. Oghia

About Branch

Unknown grid intensity

Repairing Our Relationship with Technology

Please assemble this future, not this (unreal) circuit
The future: the Right to Repair

The internet does not begin and end in a data centre. Our devices have physical impacts that we must confront, too. We envision futures that move towards a more repairable relationship with our devices. And we begin with what is already in our pockets and our homes.

The Restart Project is a small social enterprise that started with events called “Restart Parties”—bringing people together to share skills and gain the confidence to open up their devices and technology. By promoting repair, we give people a hands-on way of making a difference, as well as a way to talk about the wider issue of what kind of products and future we want. 

Taking the design of a circuit board for inspiration—the operative heart of our devices—our Restarted Future poster illustrates the life-force of a future, a sustainable economy.

There are so many possibilities to move towards a better relationship with our devices. Our vision is modular, which means its parts can be taken apart and reconfigured so that the vision remains “upgradeable”.

Currently, there are examples of all of these possibilities in action: 

However change needs to happen on multiple levels for real system change to emerge. 

Right to Repair: old barriers and new 

Even as we glimpse flashes of the futures we are seeking, we are seeing new barriers to longer- lasting products emerge. They compound the existing barriers we’ve been campaigning to remove since the beginning: design for repair, access to spare parts and repair documentation. 

New software locks that are embedded in hardware make repair and reuse harder, both in mobiles and laptops and also other connected devices and appliances.

As more and more consumer technology requires constant connection to the internet, the goalposts of ownership are shifting. Our ability to continue using our devices is becoming more and more mediated by the companies that sold them to us. 

Often companies impose these barriers in ways that are not immediately visible or comprehensible: for example, they might only become evident after a software update, disabling a device previously repaired by non “authorised” technicians.

Product as a service? Yes, but… 

Many people ask us what we think about “product as a service” models. These are where users pay for access, and it essentially functions as a rental. We think this model could suit many people, but it cannot be the only one. 

We cannot fathom a future where people do not have the option to buy, modify and repair their own equipment. This absolutely must exist in parallel to the growth of alternative, convenience-based business models where companies exert control over the full lifecycle of products.

We are creative, and we are problem solvers. Repair and play are hardwired human instincts, just like our love for the shiny new thing. 

Further reading

Download the original PDF
Listen to the Restart Podcast

About the author

Janet Gunter is the Outreach Lead and Co-Founder of the Restart Project. She gives regular talks on consumer technology and sustainable economy. She is an American/British activist and anthropologist who has lived and worked in Brazil, East Timor, Portugal and Mozambique.