Nearly all personal technology involves trading depth and focus for the “superpowers” that tech delivers to us. Texts and notifications, for example, limit the number of sensory inputs through which we experience others, rendering more and more of our social lives as two-dimensional, with far less sensory and relational “signal.” Consequently, we are more likely to be misinterpreted, have conflict, and lack genuine interpersonal connection. (We also miss out on boring or difficult interactions that would help us develop patience and humility.)
Widespread adoption of these tools of communication has not only left us “alone together,” it has weakened the social infrastructure required for a common life and left us in a world of “influencers” and “followers” instead. In the attention economy, we have given away one of our most valuable assets—the ability to think and act deeply and wisely.
We’re interested in technology applications that are “instruments rather than devices” (see Andy Crouch’s book, The Life We’re Looking For), enriching and enhancing our personal capacities rather than substituting for them. We want ventures creating new products that enhance rather than deplete the shared life of families, neighborhoods, schools, organizations, and society.
In today’s commercially-driven world people are more likely to be seen and referred to as 'consumers' than anything else. Instead of being met with resistance, this shift has often meant that individuals have formed their identity through a composite of brands, and product purchasing can be guided more by the desire to make a statement about one’s identity and values than strict utility. As a result, the lines between social movement, capitalism, and community are increasingly blurry (see: Nike, Whole Foods, and Patagonia).
Given this reality (which is with us for both better and worse), we’d like to support entrepreneurs with a vision for building brands with a counter-culturally virtuous and optimistic view of the world, spreading hope and beauty, eliminating stigma, and most fundamentally, redirecting our identity away from materialistic consumption and toward lasting contentment.
Praxis VEntures Working On This ORI
provides tips, tools, and training to help families and communities maximize the benefits of technology while minimizing its harmful side effects (Tracy Foster & Krista Boan, Nonprofit 2019).