August 20th, 2013

Apocalypse

Technology c 150 years post-apocalypse

I admit this is more than a “little detail” – if there are “worldbuilding” comms out there, I’d be very interested to hear about them.
Setting: Britain, maybe 300 years from now, 150 years from the collapse of modern civilisation probably due to a pandemic, maybe in combination with a war. So the ecosystem is doing fine (in fact, far better), and there’s still a lot of physical infrastructure left, but far fewer people. Society has reverted to a form of feudalism, as the people who were able to grab power and resources in the wake of the disaster pass on that power to their descendents, forming an aristocracy. There are about 1m people in the country, approximately 30-50,000 living in London, where the government is. The peasants/workers scavenge the ruins for materials and grow crops for biofuels, as well as more traditional forms of  farming, and working in factories.

SEARCH TERMS USED: "Post-apocalyptic technology", "rebuilding the internet", "home made computer", "computer from scratch"  "homemade technology", "diy computer" "kludges"  etc

Found: So you want to compute post-apocalypse.

It’s not that I haven’t found anything useful at all, but it’s all mainly about what you could do with technology immediately after the apocalypse, not what you could do over a century later. And most articles about building your own tech “from scratch” actually have you buying some extremely advanced components online.

I’m trying to work out what level of advanced technology these people should have, assuming technology advanced considerably beyond where we are now before the apocalyptic event took place. I don’t know whether I should assume they’d have practically everything we have (from mobile phones to the internet and beyond), just with very stratified availability, or whether there would be huge gaps. As the apocalypse didn’t set everything on fire or anything, I’m assuming a lot of books would have survived (and literacy is still fairly common) so a great deal of the knowledge involved in advanced technology could have been recovered. However, how much of it they’d realistically be able to implement,  I’m just not sure. Are there even enough people in this scenario for the astonishing amount of co-operation and communication necessary for the kinds of the devices we now take for granted? On the one hand I think, okay, 150 years is a long time, people have historically done amazing things in that time, and they’ve got a big knowledge base to start from.  On the other I read things like this and my eyes glaze and I think “oh God, the Internet is the lost wisdom of the Ancients, when it’s gone we are never ever getting it back.”

I’m pretty certain they’ll have no ability to use satellites.

What I really want is a mix of high and low tech – hoverbikes and small flying drones and  bows and arrows and horses. (Not that they don’t have guns at all, but they’re excessively complicated to make and you can’t reuse the bullets) . However I’m finding my ability to outline the plot in detail is being hampered by my inability to find solid answers to the following questions.

Internet: Existent or non-existent? Working at fairly high levels in the capital and some form of very primitive dial-up elsewhere? Not worth it at all --especially given ability to share information empowers ordinary people in a way that might threaten the elites? What would computers look like?
Mobile phones: Existent or non-existent? How might they be different?
Video: I really need a video recording as a Mcguffin of sorts. 33mm film or CD or memory stick or something else? The needs to be made by one of the poor peasant-class people, though she can have stolen things. What would recording equipment look like?
A very specific question: Suppose there was a flying camera drone and one brought it down. What useful, survival-ish purpose could one turn its component parts?
General: WHAT WOULD STUFF LOOK LIKE?! This is so important to getting the feel right. I’m thinking, far less homogeneity, because far less mass-production, nowhere near as much in the way of plastic casings,  but more wood, metal, glass, so even advanced things look primitive and heavy.


In the mix, I have a poor outcast scratching out a living in the woods ... who is basically Tony Stark/Q from  James Bond, in terms of techy-genius, but you know, living in these conditions. She has a small team  of people willing to scavenge and steal stuff for her to use in constructing things, but I am not sure what kind of things she would actually usefully be able to make, to help a group of freedom fighters/rebels.

I sometimes wonder if I should give up on the fancier stuff and assume everything’s at more or less 40s-level, but that seems rather boring.

I feel as though I need several types of expertise I do not possess to make progress on this, so your help would be greatly appreciated!

Update:My question is about rebuilding technology. Please don't comment only to wonder aloud about tangential aspects of the premise unless there's a very direct  bearing on that issue.