Tech vs Tek?
March 14, 2017

Working in the field of Information Technology now for many years, I have spent a rather un-natural amount of time thinking about it, creating it, working with it, playing in it, laughing on it, yelling at it, and practically dying from it. But the fact remains what everyone refers to as TECHNOLOGY these days is around us 24/7 and essentially there is no escaping it completely. Unless you live under water or a rock, you are most definitely using technology, or it is being used on you, or you are being affected by it, or all of the above. In the age of IoT and hyper-computing, for most of us on Planet Earth at the moment, technology IS our life... and "it's the shit".

I view technology as an odd and almost all-encompassing term nowadays which Wikipedia describes as:

Technology ("science of craft", from Greek techne, "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and logia) is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, and the like, or it can be embedded in machines which can be operated without detailed knowledge of their workings.

To be honest, I really do enjoy technology and I do see many benefits in my life resulting from it which I thank-the-universe for quite regularly. However, there is a down-side to technology, and a dark-side, and an everything-side for that matter which I feel is 'dehumanizing' us as a species. This includes everything from mind-blowing uses including Nasa's Hubble and Google to major-bummer uses like Adverts, mobile-CNN, and CERN. But are these not simply distractions from actual existence here on Planet Earth as Humans?

What I am MUCH more excited about these days is the term TEK. The word Tek feels so much simpler, yet I believe the ideal is extremely profound in its embodiment. Tek has many meanings and my first familiarity with the term came from Steven Steinberg's amazing early-90s 'tech-zine' called InterTek (pre-cursor to 'Wired Magazine') which he wrote from our small UCSB apartment. I likened the name to a mash-up of a cyberpunk using his sweat and keyboard fingers to bravely forage into new internet territories, and a crusty-one-eyed-pirate sailing the high seas on wind and spit. describes the word Tek as something we can perhaps all relate to:

Tek: From Technique. Relates to any combination of actions or sufficiently adept single action that results in a favorable outcome for the person performing said Tek.

I like this definition because it reminds me that there's an infinite amount of actions we can perform as Humans due to the fact that we have many moving parts to perform such actions – for example we have hands, arms, legs, eyes, ears, mouths, and hearts – and that we are not simply brains, ass, and balls. Our ability to perform complex actions as Humans has brought mankind many amazing experiences for a hundred thousand years while we simply lived with the land, our hands, and our intuition to survive and thrive. This means that most of mankind's entire existence depended upon Tek to get us thus far as a species (for like 99% of our existence) and as a result, we are 'fit' to this day (but now decreasingly so?).

Perhaps the coolest description of TEK however comes from Wikipedia stating:

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) describes aboriginal, indigenous, or other forms of traditional knowledges regarding sustainability of local resources. TEK refers to a cumulative body of knowledge, belief, and practice, evolving by accumulation of TEK and handed down through generations through traditional songs, stories and beliefs. [It concerns] the relationship of living beings (including human) with their traditional groups and with their environment.

I view mankind's current addiction to Technology to be minimizing our innate ability to maximize Tek. Therefore, I envision a beautiful and balanced combination of TECH and TEK with contentment and respect for life using our ability to meet our food and energy needs with increased efficiency and sustainable generation (available now) combined with an intelligent respect for our natural environment and each other enabling us to maximize both ideals for our ultimate existence. For example, Marshall Sahlins describes a "Zen Economy" where foragers had everything their hearts desired because their hearts did not desire much in the way of material goods (or virtual ones). Perhaps we adopt a modern-day foraging approach including organic farming, clean energy, good vibes, digital-knowledge-sharing, and scientific exploration.

We 'now' have TECH, and we have 'always' had TEK. Therefore, it is simply an individual choice for every one of us to decide how we want to live here on Planet Earth right now as Humans. I may be naive to believe this, but I envision a world where Humans use Technology for our 'ultimate' Tek survival. We embrace-the-ultimate with more empowered, more conscious, more open, and more intelligent solutions for our happy and Sustainable Existence on Earth.