A Newton Machine is not a thing made from components, but a process that makes relationships between people and things. To make a good Newton Machine means making good relationships between people and things. The purpose of a Newton Machine is to re-configure local resources (people, places, and things) to store electrical energy over time.
A Newton Machine is designed to the following specifications:
Renewal of existing resources
Resources are always limited. This becomes especially visible on the periphery and at the edge. We design for the reuse and renewal of existing materials, such as scrap and waste, that can be found to hand.
Innovation redefined as ‘artful integration’
Design innovation is redefined as the making of new things through the ‘artful integration’ (Suchman) of old or existing resources and ideas.
Design solutions that are local not universal
Rather than designing objects to be replicated the same everywhere, and then tweaked, we design things that solve problems premised on the local environmental resources, local materials, and local production skills.
Designed things are made of people and places
Things are not just made of materials and technology. This design recognises and requires well-working social relationships to make the design possible (e.g. between engineers and craftspeople), and environmental relationships needed to make the design operate (e.g. cliffs used for creating potential energy).
Energy as a visible companion
Electricity can seem invisible, out of sight behind a socket, and therefore inexhaustible. We create energy ‘things’ that lead people ‘through the wall’—to form not just a visible relationship but a familiar companionship with energy, both in terms of sustainable consumption and generation.
Energy infrastructure as domestic
Energy infrastructures are vast, multinational-scale systems that are beyond the control of the domestic home, or of comprehension by most of us. We make energy infrastructure that is domestic and personal in scale.
Self-determined energy machine
Electricity grid infrastructure is often entangled in complex energy policy decisions that leave little room for self-determination. Our energy machine design supports small-scale electricity generation and storage for the self-determined.
Freedom from electricity grid constraints
We design for living outside and on the edge of the electricity grid network. Through energy storage, our design increases autonomy and freedom from energy markets, limited capacity, and other grid constraints.
We design for bringing people together and making communities through the fabrication process. A working Newton Machine should successfully contribute to community making as well as storing energy.
Energy storytelling machine
A Newton Machine can exist as a story, on a scrap of paper, in a plan for designing to this specification. Whether oral or written, imaginary or material, a Newton Machine can still work to draw people, places, and things together.