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Amish Technology

February 12, 2009

I was excited to see Kevin Kelly’s article on “Amish Hackers” featured (in the Links Miniblog) for a couple of reasons – not only is Kelly a writer I admire in general, but he’s saying things here that I’ve also been saying for years: that the Amish aren’t against technology at all… they’re simply for appropriate tech.

Read the whole thing, but I’ll pull out this summary of the Amish method of evaluating technologies, from late in Kelly’s article:

  1. They are selective. They know how to say “no” and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
  2. They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
  3. They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
  4. The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.

I don’t know whether our society at large could, or even should, adopt the same measured approach, but I do know that these are choices both to respect and to watch.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anhidonia permalink
    February 12, 2009 11:38 pm

    Very interesting article and at there is a brief interview with popular Science Magazine’s troubadour Jonathan Coulton.

    • February 13, 2009 12:00 am

      Heh… I was just listening to Coulton’s “Chiron Beta Prime” again today, too.

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