What can I do?

This is a frequent question, and not an easy one to answer.

Permacomputing can take many forms, and every context and situation is different. For someone, getting started with permacomputing may be:

  • helping a school to work with recycled computers

  • learning how to repair and replace components in computing hardware

  • discussing the use and impact of smartphones in the household, or data centers in the workplace

  • working with local farms and collectives to develop low energy weather prediction

  • researching how to provide less resource-intensive tools and systems for their lab or workspace

  • getting involved with initiatives to create energy efficient and accessible local libraries of information

  • engaging with politics and policy making to advance tech and enviromental regulation in their institution, town, or region

  • helping artists interested to engage with ecological topics using tools and media in line with this intention

  • writing their own FORTH for a chip reclaimed from e-waste

Each of these can mix and match, and are also examples from the following categories of action.


Join discussions in your institution, union, building, company, or town council, to figure out new ways to discuss the impact and regulation of the usage and re-use of computers.

Join a union, join an environmentalist group, join a citizen science lab, etc.

It's also important that users of hardware and software feel confident enough to voice their opinion, especially when the development of these projects is done in a relatively open way. For instance, issue trackers can be important activation sites to voice struggles beyond reporting technical faults.


Investigate the places in your life or work involving computer use. How much energy does it use, including accessed network resources? Can it be reduced, replaced, or removed? What impact does it have on your wellbeing and your community? Is there a common task you perform online which could be moved locally?

Approach computer use and acquisition with longevity in mind, considering things like whether you need to buy new hardware, or could you repurpose an old computer or device instead? Does it need to use a computer at all?

When developing something new, what are you gonna use to ensure you make something that does not end up being harmful or wasteful? How will you measure the impacts of your project, like the resources used to create and run it including energy, fresh water, and waste heat?

With computation and computer tech consumerism taking such a big space in so many activities, it is very likely that a domain, a common/everyday tool, or a practice, in which you have interest, professionally or not, could become your field of experimentation. Do you need to acquire new skills? How will you acquire these skills? Can you afford to learn such skills? Could you figure it out with the help of others?

Reading and learning

For non-programmers and infrequent computer users, some minimal knowledge of computing jargon and practices is recommended. However, the question of literacy in relation to computational culture is often reduced to staying in the loop with the "latest developments" the tech industry and acquiring technological skills, when we need to talk more about the other way around.

A lot of the radical thinking in computer science and engineering seems to be too often stuck on the same old 60-70s countercultural ideas from the United States. We think that it's important that people with a strong technological background start to catch up with decades of the various strands of computational critique discussed in feminist studies, gender studies, software studies, cultural studies, and also arts and humanities.


Consider starting a local group around permacomputing. You don't have and should not try to work on this topic on your own! Talk to local cultural organisations, hackerspaces, squats, town councils, schools and universities to help organising some events, workshops, skill-sharing sessions, show&tell, etc. Try to bootstrap a small permacomputing community. Make use of our code of conduct to get you started with questions of moderation, make use of the wiki, communicate on the existing lists, chats, or start your own!


Regardless what you do, it will be very inspiring to others if you document it a bit, both successes and failures. It does not have to be extensive, but it can be a much more effective way to demonstrate how to activate critical practices in relation to computer techology. You can do that on your own website if you have one, you can make zines, something individual or something with others, and of course you could use this wiki! More generally publishing does not need to be only about the projects you are involved with directly, maybe it is about helping others writing a manual, a cookbook, a sampler, something relatable and accessible.

Breaking the monoculture

Like any other community of practice that emerged from contemporary computer tech circles, permacomputing suffers from very poor cultural diversity. How can we make this space more accessible and inclusive? Like, really, and not just empty words. How can the privileges that some of us have to be able to dedicate time on such topics can be generative of activities that can contribute to breaking the tech monoculture and how can the permacomputing space, including this wiki, can become a platform for less privileged groups to be represented and supported?

Note: the first version of this document was motivated by, and in part inspired from, discussions and contributions from participants of the LIMITS 2023 workshop. THANKS <3