What is the ind.ie manifesto?

A quick guide to the ind.ie/manifesto as a series of questions and answers.

Independent Technology
It’s about protecting freedom, human rights, and democracy.
Illustration courtesy Khalid Albaih.

What is it?

The ind.ie/manifesto is a vision to create a future where fundamental freedoms, human rights, and democracy are core tenets of the human experience.

Why is this important?

Today, corporations and governments know almost everything about us but we know almost nothing about them. This inequality is being perpetrated, at least in part, by the everyday free/subsidised consumer products of Spyware 2.0 companies like Google and Facebook.

The business model of spyware is already a monopoly on the Internet today and is set to be perpetuated by a long tail of startups and the digital imperialism of Silicon Valley startup culture in Europe and beyond.

So how do we fix this?

By creating independent organisations to make competitive consumer products that are owned and controlled by individuals, not corporations.

Is this just about creating new toys, then?

Not at all.

The problems that we are trying to solve are societal ones, not technological ones. Building independent consumer technologies is a means to an end. To be successful, the scope of the independent technology movement must include education, policy, and political engagement.

Technology is a multiplier. It does not care what it multiplies. We want it to multiply meaning, welfare, equality, diversity, and reason; not greed, suffering, inequality, uniformity, and bullshit.

I heard that the ind.ie/manifesto is about diversity, is this true?

Diversity is one of our core tenets but the ind.ie/manifesto is not ‘about diversity’.

The ind.ie/manifesto is about protecting fundamental freedoms, human rights and democracy. We believe that the only way to do that is to create new organisations that are independent, sustainable, design-led, and diverse. So ind.ie/manifesto is not a manifesto about diversity but it is a manifesto that has diversity as a core tenet.

For a deeper look into why diversity is essential to Indie Tech, see: Design: the ‘d’ is for diversity and On design and diversity.

And what is ind.ie?

ind.ie is a social enterprise based in the United Kingdom that has adopted the ind.ie/manifesto and is working to create alternative independent technologies in line with the core tenets of the manifesto.

We currently have three people working full time on ind.ie: myself (on design), Laura Kalbag (on design), and Jo Porter (on operations). We also have part-time help from Andy Smith (development) and Victor Johansson (industrial design) as well as the support of a growing community of friends.

We are currently bootstrapped. We are funded by the sale of a family home and by any fees I get from professional speaking gigs. (My family is not rich — my dad was a university professor and my mom was a housewife; they’re both retired now. The home I mentioned is a flat in Ankara that my parents had been paying into for several decades as part of a cooperative. We never got to live in it. We saw it once this Summer and it was sold shortly afterwards for ~£80K.)

We are going to be crowdfunding in November to support our ongoing work on building an independent platform and an independent consumer device.

Are you the same as IndieWeb?

No. IndieWeb is a separate movement and yet we have some overlap of goals. Specifically, we share the belief that you should own your own space on the web. However, Indie Tech does not believe that this alone will fix the problem. In other words, the scope and focus of the two movements is different.

In a nutshell, we reject the Silicon Valley startup culture of venture capital and exits. We see the spyware companies of Google, Facebook, etc. as harmful malware vendors. We reject any form of sponsorship or investment from them. The IndieWeb community makes no such claims and tries to work within the system to attempt to change the behaviour of the closed silos and provide tools to give themselves greater control over their own data.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide a separate, sustainable alternative ecosystem of independent technology. In this vision, I see IndieWeb as useful in creating stopgaps that can help smooth over the transition. If we sit and wait for the one perfect approach from the one perfect initiative, we will be sitting around and waiting for a long time.

On a personal note, I am friends with a number of the people from the IndieWeb community and while we may not agree on everything, I know that their hearts are in the right place and that they’re doing what they’re doing for the right reasons.

So, in a nutshell, we are Indie Tech, the Independent Technology initiative, not IndieWeb.

I speak only for Indie Tech, not IndieWeb.