Designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan believes it is time to build an alternate future where we own our own tools, services, and data. And to do this we must create a new category of design-led, experience-driven ‘technology’.

That’s the point Balkan made at a talk (video) at RSA London recently.

The talk, entitled “Free is a Lie,” sets out the argument that in these times of all encompassing corporate and governmental data grabbing and surveillance, we shouldn’t think about privacy as about “having something to hide” but as about “the right to control what you want to share and what you want to keep to yourself.”

In other words, the cost of free (within the corporate, closed model) is our privacy, our civil liberties, our human rights.

The only answer, he says, is open tools that people can own, rather than being de facto forced to “rent from corporations”.

The big problem with open tools today is that they have poor user experience, because they are features-led.

Balkan argues that we need to create a new category of free and open products that are experience-driven and that are built by design-led organizations. Such products and technologies are a prerequisite to empower regular people to own their own tools and data. Balkan calls this independent technology or indie tech and has just launched an Indie Tech Manifesto.

But it doesn’t stop there, Balkan and his team are using these principles to build an operating system, indieOS, a personal cloud, indieCloud, and an actual phone, indiePhone.