Connected localism

Big tech backlash and high tech local

Decentralised infrastructures may be adopted by ‘smart’ localised communities to provide an escape route for those who feel that larger, more traditional infrastructures always work to entrap the public.

How the scenario could unfold

In this context, we observe and develop two potential trends. Firstly, we hypothesise that the sheer level of data collected about individuals and the increased capacity of organisations to cross-reference and analyse that data means that people’s behaviour can be largely predicted with great accuracy. In a background context of falling trust in governance structures, it’s plausible that people will feel less and less secure engaging with larger infrastructural systems, such as banks, because of the data they may collect and power they may wield in ways they don’t agree with.

Alongside this, we consider an emergence of decentralised and protected networks of resources for things like currencies —all enabled by new technologies such as blockchain. New capacities, such as localised power and communication infrastructures that coil, enable ‘networks’ of communities to live on their own systems and generally be as independent as possible from large, data consuming organisations.

What might that mean for Quetzali?

For Quetzali, independence is everything, but day-to-day life means getting tangled in controlling systems that she feels are ethically void. We explore how services may support her or bring even more complications.

I’m making this world better. Our society is full of waste and useless rules… I’m helping make food local that tastes good that people want. I don’t need a middleman in a suit.

Jump to:


Sidelined and connected communities

The elderly are sidelined but new tools could help connect them in communities and fight for a place in society.


Pragmatic collectives

Distrust in the ability of governments and large organisations to offer genuine solutions to pressing issues may result in the adoption of individual action organised around new models of ethical priorities and infrastructures.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Quetzali moved to London as a teenager with her mother. She works at an underground urban farm in an abandoned tube station beneath Clapham. She refuses to deal with banks as she feels they are just a means to subjugate the masses. She diligently avoids actions that will allow companies or the government to collect data about her, and goes to off-grid parties to meet other people and learn more about protecting her privacy.

Quetzali is happiest when her life is as self-sustained as possible. She doesn’t want to rely on others for her own wellbeing. She also is happy when she feels her decisions benefit the environment, such as cycling or shopping locally from people she gets to know personally. She believes nothing is more important than her freedom.

Her goal:

Quetzali wants to be able to be able to live on her own terms away from any oversight. She wants to make the world a better place and to live sustainably at the very least.

Questzali’s struggle rests in her dependence on systems that increasingly require details about who she is, which she believes would eventually infringe on her freedom.

Explorations in ‘Connected localism’

We explore the future by producing service visions (i.e. concepts of services) that respond to the needs of someone like Quetzali in the scenario of ‘Connected localism’. Sometimes these future concepts articulate provocative or even implausible caricatures of services, but provocation and implausibility often stimulate the dialogue that is needed for the emergence of new strategies.

  • What beneficial elements of these services could be fostered? 
  • What is already happening in some way? 
  • What harm may these services do? 
  • What might prevent services such as these proliferating? What cultures may develop around a landscape of services such as this?
Find out how we ‘Learned from extreme users’.
Read More


Offchain is a toolkit for smart localisation that allows its communities to connect and access modernity without having to forgo their data privacy. Offchain promotes sustainable living through local currencies, transparency in trading, local energy grids, general resource sharing and closed loop systems —helping smaller towns and villages be as smart and sophisticated as any metropolis.

Team: The Lab

Jump to:



Greencoin tracks your environmental impact. When you have a positive impact you earn Greencoin currency which can be spent on sustainable products.

Emerging topics

From this exploration we can infer that open source, online groups may develop more and more services that can enable the independence of communities. The example demonstrates how technology could one day be used to facilitate hyper local currencies that support local economies and cultures. However, services may also develop in other arenas like energy, food or transport, meaning that communities may reap the benefits of digitised society without having to forgo any freedoms or have their privacy encroached upon. These technologies may remain local and particular combinations of digital services may lead to nuanced and localised digital cultures and we may see services begin to accommodate these new community identities. 

If these practices were to grow, we may see   larger companies trying to recapture some of these spaces by creating larger scale platforms that maintain reasonable levels of privacy, ownership and independence while returning some value to their own organisation. In this instance, we might see a new sophistication of public understanding around data privacy and the implications of less transparent systems, which may advance markets into more honest territories.

Together, these types of shifts could lead to a healthier balance of power between organisations or governments and the people they serve. We may see increased levels of transparency, responsibility, and individual ownership of data.

Related to ‘Connected Localism’



Greencoin tracks your environmental impact. When you have a positive impact you earn Greencoin currency which can be spent on sustainable products.



Ethos learns, tracks and guides people’s behaviours to help them live more in line with their values and beliefs.



Spark is a service that helps you discover your financial personality to align it with your consumption and help you make better financial decisions and achieve financial health and wellbeing.

Would you like to know more?

Let's find the place to think, the freedom to challenge and the capability to act on real change. Together.

Let's Talk!

Let's find the place to think, the freedom to challenge and the capability to act on real change. Together.