Small Technology Foundation – Laura Kalbag
The organisation was co-founded by me, Laura Kalbag, and Aral Balkan. We started our work in 2014, aiming to create ethical and sustainable alternatives to the dominant “Big Tech” whose funding models usually rely on profiling people and monetising their personal data.
Technology is so integral to our lives, forming vital infrastructure for our work, homes and relationships. It’s unavoidable. We need technology to help us participate in everyday life, without requiring a load of pre-existing knowledge, money and time to find software that respects our rights.
Our primary aim is to build Small Technology. Small Technology are everyday tools for everyday people designed to increase human welfare, not corporate profits. Small Tech is easy to use, personal, private by default, share alike, peer to peer, interoperable, zero knowledge, non-commercial, non-colonial and inclusive. Everything we build aims to meet these goals.
Research and development
At Small Technology Foundation, we are building the Small Web, an online public space comprised of places that are owned and controlled by individuals. It could be compared to a social platform, but where you have complete ownership and control over how it works, how you use it and who gets to communicate with you. Our aim is to create software that everyday people can use with a sustainable funding model.
Advocacy, raising awareness, and education
We advocate for Small Tech, giving talks at tech industry conferences and writing articles for industry publications to encourage better practices. Outside of the tech industry, we raise awareness of mainstream tech industry practices through talks, articles and media interviews.
Credit: Samuel Unéus
Our focus at Small Technology Foundation has always been the Small Web. While it’s challenging to create something that functions contrary to mainstream tech practices, all the way down to the infrastructure level, we’re at the point where we have tools that developers can use, which is a key step in building an sustainable ecosystem for the Small Web.
As government regulation has struggled to keep up with technological progress, we decided to build a tool to help people block the trackers following them as they browse the web. In 2016, we created Better Blocker, a privacy-respecting app for iOS and macOS to reduce the harms of tracking, and create a regularly-updated curated tracker database to help people understand how trackers operate.
Accessibility For Everyone
In the early years of Small Technology Foundation I spent a lot of time writing my book Accessibility For Everyone, which was published in 2017. The book aims to introduce web accessibility to people who make websites and help them make better websites for disabled people.
In 2017-18 we worked with the City of Ghent in Belgium on project Indienet, exploring how Small Technology principles can be applied at the city level.
Small is Beautiful
During the pandemic, we weren’t able to travel to conferences, so we started a monthly live stream called “Small is Beautiful” where we discuss Small Tech, inclusive and rights-respecting design and development practices, and speak to guests working on projects with similar aims. The videos are also archived with captions and transcripts on the Small Tech website.
If you want to help us continue our work, you can help fund us through donations and patronages on our Fund Us page.
Small Technology Foundation: https://small-tech.org
Better Blocker: https://better.fyi
My blog: https://laurakalbag.com