Technology

1 February 2023Review

Verso 2022; 272pp; £14.99

Paris Marx is a Canadian tech writer and host of the 'Tech Won't Save Us' podcast – a view which more or less sums up this enraging and englightening book. Electric cars, autonomous cars, ridesharing apps, Elon Musk's tunnels, beyond-batshit ideas like flying cars. What do they all have in common? They're 'solutions' to our transport problems dreamt up by men who have no interest in the vital issue of how we do transport such that it is equitable, safe, affordable and low-carbon. What they…

1 December 2022News

Campaigners explore how to challenge emerging military technologies

Peace campaigners gathered at Birkbeck University on 12 November for the ‘Future Wars: The Shape of Things to Come’ day conference.

Organised by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Drone Wars UK, the event focused on looking at the danger of emerging military technology and how campaigners can challenge and oppose new developments in this area.

Professor Paul Rogers set the scene for the day in an opening contribution made via video.

A panel of expert speakers…

26 April 2022Blog

Three campaigning groups respond 

The news that US billionaire Elon Musk is buying Twitter has sparked a wide range of concerns. One worry has been the emphasis Musk has placed on boosting free speech on the platform. Below are reactions from three different campaigning groups, giving their different perspectives on the issues.

The EFF (based in San Francisco in the US) says it ‘champions user privacy, free expression, and…

11 December 2020Feature

A brilliant new resource for the world we’re moving into

Here are some nuggets from an excellent, very practical 48-page guide to running online events. Leading Groups Online has just been written (for activists and others) by two people with deep experience and a lot of wisdom.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, educators, trainers, organisers, consultants, and event planners are being asked to do the same things but online. You may find this a delightful challenge or entirely overwhelming. Maybe you have been in online…

1 February 2019Review

WW Norton & Company, 2018; 576pp; £19.99

Curiosity blows things up. Or at least, it vaporises interesting rocks using a laser designed by the US nuclear bomb laboratory at Los Alamos.

I am here referring not to the intellectual motivation behind much of ‘pure’ science, but rather to Curiosity, NASA’s robotic vehicle that is analysing the chemistry of Mars. This particular sharing of technology between ‘warfighting’ and the frontiers of science is one of the many diverse and disparate facts that you might glean…

1 August 2018News

Bruce Gagnon reports on the 26th annual conference of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Group photo, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space conference, 23 June, Friends Meeting House in Oxford. Bruce Gagnon in the centre with purple checked shirt. photo: PN

The 26th annual conference of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (GN) was held from 22–24 June at the Friends Meeting House in Oxford.

Will Griffin, Mary Beth Sullivan and I went a week early to Leeds and GN board convener Dave Webb organised talks…

2 February 2018Tool

Resources from the Weaving Our Own Web dayschool in January 2018.

Peace News held the second of our Weaving Our Own Web dayschools, in January 2018, for campaigners who want to learn more about online tools that can help them with their groups, and help them win their campaigns. Here are some resources from the day:

Wordpress for campaigns by Kirk Jackson

Social media presentations are available at …

1 June 2017Tool

PN's DIY guide to meeting online

Holding a meeting by online video saves travel time, money and carbon emissions, but it does mean most people have to have access to the equipment and to the internet. (You can add someone who just has a phone, but it costs money – see below).

We’re going to talk about using Skype for internet video meetings though there are other options.

Skype has been owned by Microsoft since 2011, and Microsoft has made Skype video, audio and text messages available for capture by US…

1 June 2017Review

Verso, 2016; 160pp; £8.99

Echoing the opening lines of The Communist Manifesto, Peter Frase opens this book with the claim that ‘two spectres are haunting the Earth’: ecological catastrophe and automation.

The first is a crisis of scarcity – of fresh water (think melting glaciers), fish (think ocean acidification and overfishing), habitable places to live (think rising sea levels and rising temperatures) and so on. The second is a crisis of abundance – the prospect that our technology could soon…

1 February 2017Review

OR Books, 2016; 272pp; £13

This timely book explores how industrial co-operatives can be made relevant in our digital age. Co-operatives founded by nineteenth-century factory workers revolutionised working practices. This book proposes that digital workers must establish similar mutuals to bring about democratic governance and shared ownership of the internet’s levers of power – its platforms and protocols.

(The term ‘platform’ refers to the places where we hang out or work after we switch on our phones or…

1 December 2016Comment

What are Britain's corporate leader so worried about?

Lucas Aerospace workers proposed a bus that could run on rails as an product for their arms company. A model was built and tested, and toured the country to rally support for the Lucas Plan. PHOTO: Gillett’s Crossing [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By the time this issue lands on your doorstep, it will probably have become clear just how much British prime minister Theresa May has been forced to back down from her signature policy of putting workers’ representatives on company…

1 December 2016Feature

Cut War, Not Jobs: an inspiring example of constructive thinking from the 1970s

The Lucas Aerospace plan was developed in the mid-1970s by workers who wanted to move the aircraft manufacturer away from military production towards socially-useful production, in order to make their jobs more secure and more productive.

Lucas Aerospace had 18,000 workers spread out over Britain in 17 different factories, making collective action a real challenge.



The workforce was also divided into 13 different trade unions, adding to the…

1 October 2016News

Alternative technology festival held in Wales

Janice de Haaff is proud of ‘my tiny house’. PHOTO: Lotte Reimer

On 10 September, the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth hosted the EF Schumacher-inspired ‘Small is Beautiful’ festival with an exciting mix of debates, workshops, arts and talks (spanning hydroelectricity, pee power, zero-carbon Britain, aquaponics, campaign-building, thatching, tiny homes, improvising…) with debates captured in visual minutes by Creative Connection.

Practical Action’s Paul Smith…

1 October 2016News

Alternative tech students study designs for use in Gaza and Nepal

Shelter building. PHOTO: Sam Christie/CAT

This summer, postgraduate students at the Centre for Alternative Technology explored the construction of emergency shelters as part of their MSc degree in ‘Sustainability and Adaptation’.

Led by Jamie Richardson of Shelter and Construction, the students used the examples of Gaza and Nepal to learn about sustainable construction in the context of war and natural disaster.

Though they seem simple structures, considerable thought…

1 October 2016Review

New Internationalist, 2016; 336pp; £10.99

The Bleeding Edge deftly exposes the catastrophic impacts of inequality, exploding the myth that technology has brought us ‘the best of all possible worlds.’ Examining the lives of workers at the bleeding edge of our high-tech world, Bob Hughes explains how the ‘escalating human impact on the earth has gone hand in hand with successful encroachments on egalitarian culture.’

A central argument of the book is that capitalism has given us gadgets that we did not ask for and…