lowtech là gì

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Low-tech innovation
Infographic « Low-techs: Sustainably securing the essentials for all » gathering the criteria for any low-tech innovation approach

Low technology (low tech; adjective forms: low-technology, low-tech, lo-tech) is simple technology, as opposed to tát high technology.[1] In addition, low tech is related to tát the concept of mid-tech, that is a balance between low-tech and high-tech, which combines the efficiency and versatility of high tech with low tech's potential for autonomy and resilience.[2]


Historical origin[edit]

A controlled open fire using wood, invented 1.7-2 million years ago, being used for cooking in 2015

Primitive technologies such as bushcraft, tools that use wood, stone, wool, etc. can be seen as low-tech, as the pre-industrial revolution machines such as windmills or sailboats. [3]

In the 70s[edit]

The economic boom after the war resulted in a doubt on progress, technology and infinite growth at the beginning of the 70s, notably with through the report The Limits to tát Growth (1972). Many have sought to tát define what soft technologies are, leading to tát the low-tech movement. Such technologies have been described as "intermediaries" (E.F. Schumacher),[4] "liberating" (M. Bookchin),[5] or even democratic. Thus, a philosophy of advocating a widespread use of soft technologies was developed in the United States, and many studies were carried out in those years, in particular by researchers lượt thích Langdon Winner.[6]

2000s and later[edit]

Low-tech Mobility
Skateboarding as a way of Low-tech mobility, in Mexico City

"Low-tech" has been more and more employed in the scientific writings, in particular in the analyzes of the work from some authors of the 1970s: see for example Hirsch ‐ Kreinsen,[7] the book "High tech, low tech, no tech" [3] or Gordon.[8]

More recently, the perspective of resource scarcity [9] - especially minerals - lead to tát an increasingly severe criticism on high-techs and technology.

Since 2007, the Dutch Kris de Decker has published (with his collaborators) some reflections on low-tech solutions, the problem of high-techs, and the updating of technologies supposedly "obsolete" via the "Low <-tech Magazine". The header is: "Doubts on progress and technology", and specifies that the lowtechs "refuse to tát assume that each problem has a high-tech solution",[10] with a progressive translation of the articles in other languages since recently.

In năm trước, the french engineer Philippe Bihouix published "L'âge des low tech" (The age of low-techs) where he presents how a european nation lượt thích France, with little mineral and energy resources, could become a "low-tech" nation (instead of a "start-up" nation) to tát better correspond to tát the sustainable development goals of such nation.[11] He cites various examples of low-techs initiative and describe the low-tech philosophy and principles. In năm ngoái, the Low-tech Lab project opened, consisting in a low-tech trang web platform for documentation and miễn phí sharing ('wiki' type) of inventions, and to tát put forward reflections on the low-tech philosophy.

Recently: retro-tech, wild tech, rebel-tech, small-tech, (s)low-tech, easy-tech, no-tech, lo-tek[edit]

Numerous new definitions have come to tát supplement or qualify the term "low-tech", intended to tát be more precise because they are restricted to tát a particular characteristic:

  • retro-tech: more oriented toward old but smart inventions (not necessarily useful, durable and accessible), parallels can nevertheless be found with low-tech, because these innovations often are decentralized and simpler technologies (because manufactured by individuals) ".[12]
  • Wild-tech: beyond the high-tech / low-tech opposition, it intends to tát give "tools to tát better think these ways of manufacturing which escape any classification".[13] The unclassifiable techs. Can also be linked to tát "tech rebel", a movement whose goal is to tát hack and to tát re-appropriate any type of technology.
  • small-tech: opposed to tát "Big Tech", which includes the GAFAM. It thus referred to tát digital questions, "in the perspective of maintaining a high level of technological complexity but on the basis of the notions of commons, collaborative work and the principles of democracy and social justice"[14]
  • (s)lowtech, or slow-tech: uses the play-on-words (s)low / slow. Aims at: "exploring the drawbacks of technology and its effects on human health and development".[15] Also indicates a movement aimed at reducing addiction to tát technology, especially among the youngsters.[16] However, its highest similarity with the definition of low-techs is that it is restricted to tát technologies (of all kinds) that promote a slow lifestyle.[17]
  • easy-tech: technology easy to tát implement, to tát use, and accessible to tát all.[18] At the heart of the commonly accepted definition of low-tech.
  • no-tech: promotes a lifestyle avoiding the use of technology, when possible. It joins some technocritical writings on the negative and time-consuming aspect of most "modern" technologies. See for example no-tech magazine.[19]
  • Lo-Tek (or LoTek): name introduced by Julia Watson for her book "The Power of Lo — TEK - A global exploration of nature-based technology".[20] The author brings together multigenerational knowledge and practices to tát "counter the idea that aboriginal innovation is primitive and exists isolated from technology. " TEK is the acronym for "Traditional Ecological Knowledge".

Many definitions[edit]

Binary definition[edit]

According to tát the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, the concept of low-tech is simply defined as a technique that is not recent, or using old materials.[21] Companies that are considered low-tech have a simple operation. The less sophisticated an object, the more low-tech. This definition does not take into tài khoản the ecological or social aspect, as it is only based on a simplistic definition of low-tech philosophy. The low-techs would then be seen as a "step backwards", and not as possible innovation.

Also, with this definition, the "high-tech" (ex: the telegraph) of a certain era becomes the "low-tech" of the one after (ex: compared to tát the telephone).


Low-tech is sometimes described as an "anti high-tech" movement, as a deliberate renunciation of a complicated and expensive technology. This kind of protest movement criticizes any disproportionate technology: a comparison with the neo-luddic or technocritical movements, which appeared since the Industrial Revolution, is then possible. This critical part of the low-tech movement can be called "no-tech", see for instance "No-tech magazine".

Recently: a wider and more balanced approach[edit]

A second, more nuanced definition of low-tech may appear. This definition takes into tài khoản the philosophical, environmental and social aspects. Low-tech are no longer restricted to tát old techniques, but also extended to tát new, future-oriented techniques, more ecological and intended to tát recreate social bounds. A low-tech innovation is then possible.[11]

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Contrary to tát the first definition, this one is much more optimistic and has a positive connotation. It would then oppose the planned obsolescence of objects (often “high-tech”) and question the consumer society, as well as the materialist principles underneath. With this definition, the concept of low-tech thus implies that anyone could make objects using their intelligence, and share their know-how to tát popularize their creations. A low-tech must therefore be accessible to tát all, and could therefore help in reduction of inequalities.[11]

Furthermore, some reduce the definition of low-tech to tát meet basic needs (eating, drinking, housing, heating ...), which disqualifies many technologies from the definition of low-techs, but this definition does not is not always accepted.[13] Finally, considering that the definition of low-tech is relative, some prefer to tát use lower tech,[11] to tát emphasize a higher sobriety compared to tát high-tech, without claiming to tát be perfectly "low".


Traditional ploughing: a farmer works the land with horses and plough.

From traditional practices (primary and secondary sectors)[edit]

Note: almost all of the entries in this section should be prefixed by the word traditional.

Low-tech transportation
Cargo xe đạp as a way of low-tech transportation
  • weaving produced on non-automated looms, and basketry.
  • hand wood-working, joinery, coopering, and carpentry.
  • the trade of the ship-wright.
  • the trade of the wheel-wright.
  • the trade of the wainwright: making wagons. (the Latin word for a two-wheeled wagon is carpentum, the maker of which was a carpenter.)

(Wright is the agent sườn of the word wrought, which itself is the original past passive participle of the word work, now superseded by the weak verb forms worker and worked respectively.)

  • blacksmithing and the various related smithing and metal-crafts.
  • folk music played on acoustic instruments.
  • mathematics (particularly, pure mathematics)
  • organic farming and animal husbandry (i.e.; agriculture as practiced by all American farmers prior to tát World War II).
  • milling in the sense of operating hand-constructed equipment with the intent to tát either grind grain, or the reduction of timber to tát lumber as practiced in a saw-mill.
  • fulling, felting, drop spindle spinning, hand knitting, crochet, & similar textile preparation.
  • the production of charcoal by the collier, for use in trang chính heating, foundry operations, smelting, the various smithing trades, and for brushing ones teeth as in Colonial America.
  • glass-blowing.
  • various subskills of food preservation:
    • smoking
    • salting
    • pickling
    • drying

Note: trang chính canning is a counter example of a low technology since some of the supplies needed to tát pursue this skill rely on a global trade network and an existing manufacturing infrastructure.[citation needed]

  • the production of various alcoholic beverages:
    • wine: poorly preserved fruit juice.
    • beer: a way to tát preserve the calories of grain products from decay.
    • whiskey: an improved (distilled) sườn of beer.
  • flint-knapping
  • masonry as used in castles, cathedrals, and root cellars.

Domestic or consumer[edit]

Candlelight used in electricity rationing in Oslo in 1948
Low-tech living
Zero waste as a way of low-tech living

(Non exhaustive) list of low-tech in a westerner's everyday life:

  • Getting around by xe đạp, and repairing it with second-hand materials
  • Using a cargo xe đạp to tát carry loads (rather than vãn a gasoline vehicle)
  • Drying clothes on a clothesline or on a drying rack
  • Washing clothes by hand, or in a human-powered washing machine
  • Cooling one's trang chính with a người hâm mộ or an air expander (rather than vãn electrical appliances such as air conditioners)
  • Using a bell as door bell
  • A cellar, "desert fridge", or icebox (rather than vãn a fridge or freezer)
  • Long-distance travel by sailing boat (rather than vãn by plane)
  • A wicker bag or a Tote bag (rather than vãn a plastic bag) to tát carry things
  • Swedish lighter (rather than vãn disposable lighter or matches)
  • A hand drill, instead of an electric one
  • Lighting with sunlight or candles
  • Hemp textiles
  • To water plants with drip irrigation
  • Paper sheets for note-taking
  • To clean with a broom (rather than vãn a vacuum cleaner)
  • To find one's way with map & compass (rather than vãn by GPS)
Rotary clothesline
Handmade broom


Among the thinkers opposed to tát modern technologies, Jacques Ellul (The Technological Society, 1954; The technological bluff, 1988), Lewis Mumford and E. F. Schumacher. In the second volume of his book The Myth of the Machine (1970), Lewis Mumford develops the notion of "biotechnology", to tát designate "bioviable" techniques that would be considered as ecologically responsible, i.e. which establish a homeostatic relationship between resources and needs. In his famous Small is beautiful (1973), Schumacher uses the concept of "intermediate technology",[4] which corresponds fairly precisely to tát what "low tech" means. He has also created the "Intermediate Technology Development Group”.

Differences between green-tech and low-tech[edit]


This section is empty. You can help by adding to tát it. (April 2020)

Debate on the 'real' low-techs, and difference(s) with high tech[edit]


This section is empty. You can help by adding to tát it. (April 2020)

Legal status of low-technology[edit]

By federal law in the United States, only those articles produced with little or no use of machinery or tools with complex mechanisms may be stamped with the designation "hand-wrought" or "hand-made". Lengthy court-battles are currently underway over the precise definition of the terms "organic" and "natural" as applied to tát foodstuffs.[citation needed]

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Groups associated with low-technology[edit]

Horse and cart in 2004
  • Arts and Crafts Movement, popularized by Gustav Stickley in America around 1900.
  • Bauhaus movement of Germany around the same time.
  • Do-It-Yourself phenomenon arising in America following World War II.
  • Back-to-the-land movement beginning in America during the 1960s.
  • Luddites, whose activities date to tát the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Living history and open-air museums around the world, which strives to tát recreate bygone societies.
  • Simple living adherents, such as the Amish and to tát a lesser extent some sects of the Mennonites, who specifically refuse some newer technologies to tát avoid undesirable effects on themselves or their societies.
  • Survivalists are often proponents,[citation needed] since low-technology is inherently more robust than vãn its high-technology counterpart.

See also[edit]

  • Obsolescence
  • Do it yourself
  • Anti-consumerism
  • Degrowth
  • Simple living
  • Embodied energy
  • Intermediate technology – sometimes used to tát mean technology between low and high technology


  • Falk, William W.; Lyson, Thomas A. (1988). High tech, low tech, no tech: recent industrial and occupational change in the South. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780887067297.
  • De Decker, Kris (2012). Low-tech magazine (tome 1 and 2). Low-tech Magazine. ISBN 9781794711525.
  • Watson, Julia (2020). Lo—TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism. Taschen. ISBN 978-3836578189.
  • Peter Ginn (2019). Slow Tech: The Perfect Antidote to tát Today's Digital World. Haynes UK. ISBN 9781785216169.


  1. ^ Alexis Bernigaud. "Low-Tech is the new High-Tech". climateforesight.eu. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  2. ^ Kostakis, Vasilis; Pazaitis, Alex; Liarokapis, Minas (2023-06-20). "Beyond high-tech versus low-tech: A tentative framework for sustainable urban data governance". BigData&Society. doi:10.1177/20539517231180 (inactive 2023-09-02). ISSN 2053-9517.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of September 2023 (link)
  3. ^ a b Falk, William W.; Lyson, Thomas A. (1988). High tech, low tech, no tech: recent industrial and occupational change in the South. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780887067297.
  4. ^ a b Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (2010). Small is beautiful : economics as if people mattered. HarperPerennia. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-06-199776-1..
  5. ^ Murray Bookchin (1971). Post-Scarcity Anarchism (PDF). Ramparts Press. p. 288.
  6. ^ Winner, Langdon (2016). "Mythinformation in the high-tech era". Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. 4 (6): 582–596. doi:10.1177/027046768400400609. ISSN 0270-4676. S2CID 151175845.
  7. ^ Hirsch‐Kreinsen, Hartmut (2008). ""Low‐Tech" Innovations". Industry and Innovation. 15 (1): 19–43. doi:10.1080/13662710701850691. ISSN 1366-2716. S2CID 154429255.
  8. ^ Gordon, Uri (2009). "Anarchism and the Politics of Technology". WorkingUSA. 12 (3): 489–503. doi:10.1111/j.1743-4580.2009.00250.x. ISSN 1089-7011. S2CID 145449806.
  9. ^ Richard Heinberg (2007). Peak Everything - Waking Up in the Century of Decline. Ramparts Press. ISBN 978-0-86571-598-1.
  10. ^ Kris de Decker. "Low-Tech Magazine". lowtechmagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  11. ^ a b c d Philippe Bihouix (2014). L'âge des low tech (in French). Editions du Seuil. p. 330. ISBN 978-2-02-116072-7.
  12. ^ "Retrotech and Lowtech - How forgotten patents can shake the future". paleo-energetique.org. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  13. ^ a b Grimaud, Emmanuel; Tastevin, Yann Philippe; Vidal, Denis (2017). "Low-tech ? Wild-Tech !". Techniques & Culture (in French) (67). doi:10.4000/tc.8260. ISSN 0248-6016.
  14. ^ "Passerelle #21 - Low tech : face au tout-numérique, se réapproprier les technologies" (PDF) (in French). 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  15. ^ "SlowTech - It is about finding the OFF switch". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  16. ^ "The Slow Tech Movement". 6 May 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  17. ^ Peter Ginn (2019). Slow Tech: The Perfect Antidote to tát Today's Digital World. Haynes UK. ISBN 9781785216169.
  18. ^ Corentin de Chatelperron (2018). Nomade des mers : le tour du monde des innovations (in French). E/P/A. p. 240. ISBN 978-2-37671-022-6.
  19. ^ "No tech reader #7". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  20. ^ Watson, Julia (2020). Lo—TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism. Taschen. ISBN 978-3836578189.
  21. ^ "Low tech definition". Cambridge International Dictionnary. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  • Merriam webster dictionary

External links[edit]

  • Low-Tech Magazine – Doubts on progress and technology
  • Low-tech lab (english version)