Is 2020 The Year We Challenged Big Tech?

For too long, the so-called “Big Tech” companies have dominated our cultural and social world. After the year where we have had Australian wildfires and a world-stopping pandemic, we need something positive to hold on to.

That is why I joined Kano, a tech start-up that wants to change the technology in your hand. We make the best next-generation computers. We are a group of misfits putting pieces together. We are not protective or possessive. Make our stuff yourself. Make it better. Learn something new. We came to play.

But why does the world need this sort of company?

You pick up your smartphone, it’s probably Apple or Samsung.
You click on Instagram, or maybe WhatsApp (depending on which notification you read first).
You scroll. You repeat the process.
You spend on average 4.6 hours of your day staring at the black mirror in your hands, comparing yourself to the endless amount of humans you decided to follow on your social media networks a few years ago.
This goes on and on and on. It has been this away for nearly a decade. Living in an era where we will get more money for selling out than educating our minds. Why?

In the year 2008, Christopher Nolan released what would come to be considered as one of the greatest films of the modern era. ‘The Dark Knight’ was less about a man in a bat suit and more a statement on the political and social change of the twentieth century. One line in particular always stuck with me. Harvey Dent/Two-Face looks at Batman and says, ‘ You thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time!’

Most of us would look at the world and say it has its problems, but it could be worse. We live in an age where health advances have allowed us to live longer and detect illnesses faster. Where we can travel vast distances quicker than ever and where more women and Black senior staff are being appointed than ever. The human race has come far, yet we are still far from perfect.

But what truly worries me is, are people too scared to challenge them, or are we just comfortable?

Donald Trump is President (not for long). Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are the most powerful people on the planet. The iPhone is more recognizable than a textbook to most eight-year-olds. Yet, large groups of people on Twitter want to argue about the race of a made-up character in a kids film made by a company that is destroying creativity in the arts.

You spend all day working and studying for your family or for a future you planned because your society and culture has put you through a system where goal-based coaching is in your blood. You want to go traveling or buy a home. But so much is needed to do that. Money, time, and effort.

Even if you wanted to escape, it almost feels impossible in this world. You try to delete social media, but then no friends contact you. You miss out on important photos or invites to parties because Facebook is the home of televised social norms. You try to avoid Instagram but then how do you ever know what is new or what your friends are up to. You can try and delete Twitter but then the only news you will receive is from broadsheets controlled by political investment that want you to read-only their propaganda. Then let’s not even consider trying to avoid Netflix, Spotify, Uber, Deliveroo, Fortnite…I could go on.

We live in a society now where our brains have been tuned to be controlled by the immediate and the transactional, and our brains can’t get enough.

You crave the attention of a follower on social media, you desire the latest season of a corporate un-emotive television drama and maybe you will just get an Uber home to be safe when only going six stops on a bus for one-tenth of the cost. Big Tech has made this life easier and immediate, but at what cost?

We are stuck in an age where people are drinking more sugar than they are culture, and that is a recipe for disaster. What we need, is to make the most of the opportunities to change this.

This is why Kano exists. To challenge the status quo. Only 1% of the 1% know how their products truly work. When you see an Apple Macbook, do you know how it works? Most of their customer base won’t understand how to build a Macbook. That is where Kano changes the status quo. We provide you with products that allow you to see how your technology is built.

Kano invented the first make-your-own computer for all ages, the Kano Computer Kit, in 2014. It launched with the most-crowdfunded ed-tech campaign in history. Kano members have created and shared more than a million applications on its online platform — described by WIRED as “the GitHub for kids.” Kano software teaches 21st-century skills, like coding and design, through stories and games.

This feels like how we make the world the place we want it to be.

by George Cole

The good kind of screen time. Computers and software for a new generation.

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