permacomputing is a holistic approach to computing and sustainability inspired from permaculture.

the term was originally coined by viznut in 12020 and has inspired and motivated us to keep pursuing the compudanzas project.

it has shown us that there are more people thinking and acting with similar concerns.

permacomputing | viznut

compudanzas is mentioned in the 12021 update as one of the projects with "visions that detach computing from all utilitarian purposes", as explorations of what could computing imply when trying to shift from dominant paradigms:

permacomputing update 2021 | viznut

see also:

Permacomputing wiki


some quotes from the articles by viznut

how to give computers a meaningful and sustainable place in a human civilization that has a meaningful and sustainable place in the planetary biosphere[?]


Over the last few hundred years of human civilization, there has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of artificially produced energy. In the overarching story, this is often equated with "progress".
In the computer world, this phenomenon gets multiplied by itself: "progress" facilitates ever greater densities of data storage and digital logic, thus dramatically exploding the availability of computing resources. However, the abundance has also caused an equivalent explosion in wastefulness, which shows in things like mindblowingly ridiculous hardware requirements for even quite trivial tasks.
What makes permacultural philosophy particularly appealing (to me) is that it does not advocate "going back in time" despite advocating a dramatic decrease in use of artificial energy. Instead, it trusts in human ingenunity in finding clever hacks for turning problems into solutions, competition into co-operation, waste into resources. Very much the same kind of creative thinking I appreciate in computer hacking.

physical resources

IC fabrication requires large amounts of energy, highly refined machinery and poisonous substances. Because of this sacrifice, the resulting microchips should be treasured like gems or rare exotic spices. Their active lifespans would be maximized, and they would never be reduced to their raw materials until they are thoroughly unusable.
Instead of planned obsolescence, there should be planned longevity.

observation and interaction

The difference between yin and yang hacking is similar to the difference between permaculture and industrial agriculture. In the latter, a piece of nature (the field) is forced (via a huge energy investment) into an oversimplified state that is as predictable and controllable as possible. Permaculture, on the other hand, emphasizes a co-operative (observing and interacting) relationship with the natural system.


Instead of technological "progress" (that implies constant abandoning of the old), we should consider expanding the diversity and abundance of ideas. Different kinds of technology should be seen as supporting each other rather than competing against each other for domination.
In nature, everything is interdependent, and these interdependencies tend to strengthen the whole. In technology, however, large dependency networks and "diversity of options" often make the system more fragile. Civilization should therefore try to find ways of making technological dependencies work more like those in nature, as well as ways of embracing technological diversity in fruitful ways.


Any community that uses a technology should develop a deep relationship to it. Instead of being framed for specific applications, the technology would be allowed to freely connect and grow roots to all kinds of areas of human and non-human life. Nothing is "just a tool" or "just a toy", nobody is "just a user".
There would be local understanding of each aspect of the technology. Not merely the practical use, maintenance and production but the cultural, artistic, ecological, philosophical and historical aspects as well. Each local community would make the technology locally relevant.

audiovisual media

There are countless ways, most of them still undiscovered, to make low and moderate data complexities look good — sometimes good enough that increased resolution would no longer improve them. Even compression artifacts might look so pleasant that people would actually prefer to have them.
For extreme realism, perfection, detail and sharpness, people would prefer to look at nature.

related concepts

more projects and resources related with permacomputing:

permacomputing update 2021 | viznut

salvage computing

salvage computing refers to utilizing only already available computational resources, , accepting that "genuine sustainability actually calls for an urgent halt to the manufacture of new electronic devices"

how we get the most and best use out of existing hardware once we know nothing newer will ever come along.
Within a community of sufficient population density, existing hardware and software is already perfectly capable of implementing WiFi and/or Bluetooth mesh networks with zero dependency on any infrastructure external to the computer themselves - no cables, no cell towers or antenna masts, no satellites, no datacentres, nothing - so networking need not disappear entirely. But communication *between* such communities, across expanses of insufficient population density for meshes, is another question entirely.

Discussions toward radically sustainable computing - solderpunk

the real long-term future of computing consists of figuring out how to make the best possible use we can out of the literal millions of devices which already exist.

The standard salvage computing platform - solderpunk


XXIIVV - longtermism

frugal computing

frugal computing - Wim Vanderbauwhede

and more

Marloes de Valk: A pluriverse of local worlds: a review of Computing within Limits related terminology and practices

see also references

incoming links