Simple vs Complex, Common vs Rare

Simple vs Complex, Common vs Rare

Postby Cererean » Fri May 31, 2019 9:08 am

Some technologies are simple and use common materials - the digging stick being a prime example, since it can be made out of a wooden stick (common material) by a single person with basic tools (simple, doesn't need a complex society or lots of complex work done). At the other end, we have modern electronics, which require ultrapure and difficult to extract elements (rare) and billion dollar fabs that require the support of a giant economy to function (complex).

I propose that technologies can be mapped out on a two-axes chart, with one axis (horizontal, left-right) being common-rare (what is it made of - how hard are the materials to acquire?) and the other (vertical, bottom-top) being simple-complex (how difficult is it to make - how big does the economy have to be to support it?). To round out the examples, it's possible to build a jet aircraft out of steels made of fairly common materials (I don't know if Nickel is *required*, but it does make things a lot easier), but it's not going to be possible for a team of blacksmiths working in some post-apocalyptic city state to make one. On the other side, certain rare, hard-to-extract metals are used as chemical catalysts - they're not common, but if you have them using them is fairly simple.

The simpler technology is, and the more it uses common, accessible materials, the easier it will be for a small group to build and maintain. Technologies in the bottom-left could probably be sustained by a small city - whether that be in a post-apocalyptic world, or on another planet. I think this is *roughly* what Open Source Ecology are aiming for. Obviously having a Standard Template Construct available would grant access to every technology, but if that was destroyed we'd be sunk.
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