Message 02564 [Homepage] [Navigation]
Thread: oxenT02564 Message: 1/1 L0 [In index]
[First in Thread] [Last in Thread] [Date Next] [Date Prev]
[Next in Thread] [Prev in Thread] [Next Thread] [Prev Thread]

[ox-en] open source ecology continued

On the surface, it seems that there is not much happening after the
Oekonux-Conference. On the German list, two rather marginal subjects (the
pros and cons of alternative currencies and the copyright war between exit
and krisis) have created some traffic, but basically nonsense traffic from
the point ov view of our goals and themes.

But the impact of the conference was much more than that. Lets just follow
one small thread.  In the aftermath of the conference we had meetings with
ecologists of all kinds to look into the concept of Open Source Ecology. I
went to Gaertnerhof ecovillage with Andrius and Marcin and George and we
started to think about developing a system for opensource working in the
context of Open Source Ecology (OSE). George is starting wireless village
networks in Crete with the perspective of developing Global Villages. We
have started to conceptualize an Open Source Village in Styria (

Meanwhile, we have set up the globalvillages discussion group where these
issues are discussed in a very practical context. I think it is good to
give you all a taste of this discussion by crossposting a letter of Marcin
in reply to Andrius. This is the value of social hacking, learning to see
what is going on in other groups and making more use of shared potentials.

To visit your group/list on the web, go to:

all the best from Vienna,


----- Original Message -----

Mittwoch, 21. Juli 2004 05:08:29 Uhr
Bulk Message
From:		marcin xxxxxx   via globalvillages
Subject:	Re: [globalvillages] for Marcin: a system for self-learning
To:		globalvillages
Cc:		xxx
Bcc:		xxx


Ok, this sounds more concrete. What format were you considering? Can 
CMapTools be utilized? What about FreeMind? What about any other neural 
network? I think Ron Stockinger is key in helping us define the 
appropriate tools. At least internally at OSE, i'm interested in defining 
the state of the art in software tools that can be utilized.

Most key in this is the capacity to gather and organize the knowledge 
necessary to become a productive member of society. The key assumption 
that i hold here still is based on Maslow's pyramid. Physical needs are 
first, because they influence psychological needs. I don't believe we can 
have a healthy society as long as our physical environment 
(infrastructures, goods and services) is unhealthy. We apparently disagree 
on this point, but one realm of personal growth for me involves the clear 
communication of my 'assumption' that physical needs are first. Physical 
needs means the products of human production infrastructures (production 
of products, ideas, education, infrastructures...). To me, discontinuing 
the thorough addiction to 'making a living' in society is key. When i say 
physical needs are first, i am referring to the infrastructure in society 
which makes many people unhappy in the process of providing human needs. 
The means of production and our physical environment have a profound 
effect on human psychology. We can't be making people feel truly good by 
psychology alone, unless people are spiritual masters. Since there is only 
a small number of 'spiritual masters,' it is better to focus on the whole 
process of manufacturing the physical human environment, since this is 
more tangible, and in my view, easier. Approaching the problem from 
psychology is, to me, like building a house without a foundation. And 
here's the key: if you want to affect people psychologically, you must 
affect their physical experience. In this way, i agree with you, that a 
better society lies in changing the minds of humans. I think that the 
peoples' minds can be changed by changing their physical environment: the 
products they use, the streets they live on, the way they make their 
livelihood. This is why i approach creating a better society from the 
point of the means of production. And means of production includes 
technology, law, finance, organizational issues. I must admit, i find 
efforts that are not based on improving the provision of goods and 
services in some way as not 'getting it.' Pardon my humility level.

Here i don't mean that everyone becomes an ethical entrepreneur. That's 
the job of, say 1 or so percent of society. Here are my assumptions on how 
the world works: about 1% or so of the population rules the world. That is 
called international finance capital. It includes, for example, the 
adventures of Columbus, and today, the adventures of Goldman Sachs. Next: 
a few percent of the world's population generates the local 
infrastructures: cities, their roads, new housing developments, so forth. 
Still big money, but not as large as the virtual, global finance capital, 
and larger than what the middle class has at its disposition. Next, the 
third class of agents that affect how the world looks are ethical 
entrepreneurs. These are the people who participate in networking, 
organizational, and political life. These are the people that OSE is 
interested in generating. These individuals migrate into the upper two 
classes: the global and local finance capital. The vast majority, 90-95% 
are not involved in any significant way in affecting how the world in the 
future. That is, most people lead 'normal lives,' and have no interest in 
a post-autistic economy.

In any case, the case for open knowhow is key. Our institutions don't 
train us to become entrepreneurs, but to become part of the industrial 
machine and its support functions. Thus, i see the need for training the 
ethical entrepreneurs to provide options of meeting human needs consistent 
with our deepest and truest needs. For example, we do not need more food 
in the USA. We need real food, quality food, with a corresponding 
infrastructure that nourishes the human spirit at all steps. We do not 
have that yet. I am interested in creating this nourishing infrastructure 
in the food, housing, and other sectors. That vision requires hard 
technical expertise.

In sum, we need: (1) the ability to collect the information- i see here 
the need to implement a collaboration platform. I see a masterminded 
skeleton, with content filled in an open source way by numerous 
contribution. The main challenge here is to establish the legitimacy of 
such a project to foster wide input. What are your ideas on that? (2) The 
ability to implement the information. We are in the process of acquiring 
50 acres for a full research campus with experimental labs, agriculture 
operations, building demonstrators, so forth. This is the physical plant 
where we can build and test ideas. Moreover, for business models, legal, 
and financial knowhow, we are generating students who are demonstrating 
their abilities by taking concrete steps towards startup of ethical 
enterprise as a requirement for graduation. (3) The ability to organize 
the information. What tools can we use here? Overall, the goal is having 
state of the art procedural and technical information access at one's 
fingertips. Things like: how do i structure my corporation legally to 
handle donations for placing landholdings for the benefit of the public; 
where do i get my seeds? How do i design a closed loop water system for my 
house? Where are the manufacturing blueprints for a wind generator? So 
this includes open source technology, items such as open source 
photovoltaics production, and others.

Key here is information access: indexical environments, visual 
representation, databasing, expert systems, multimedia generation, etc. I 
see a CMapTools map with links to multimedia on hammering a nail into a 
wall; a website that shows the economic analysis of a housing development; 
name of key person who can help and is most committed to the open-sourcing 
of information; distilled instructions on the steps required to set up a 
telco in Crete; etc. I see some tool like TheBrain, and some features of 

On the technical support front, the clear definition of tools to be used 
is important for replicability. That is: what are the tools, how do we 
acquire them and install them, and how do we learn them. This should all 
be at our fingertips. Of course, this changes dynamically, but so far i 
have not seen a one-stop-shop for gaining distilled perspective, or 
expertism, without having to 'jump through hoops' of various professional 
schools or programs. We have a chance to change this, by collecting and 

Here are my thoughts: i have a hard time seeing a distributed effort 
succeeding in this. Missing is focus, because unless people can contribute 
their full attention, all other activities will interfere. That's why 
funding must come through the activity itself. That's the reason why i 
promote work on 'the means of production of goods and services.' As we 
learn, we are also producers; productive acticity has income. This is my 
bootstrapping finance model. For example, by open-sourcing our farm 
project, we are also getting paid by products we grow, as part of an 
integrated social marketing package that is also used to dedicate the 
funds to purchase local lands.

My way to generate the focus is to have bootstrapping financing, augmented 
by many donations. Thus, it is full time work, where people communicate 
directly with one another. The distillation process can then take shape. I 
see a team of 100 people on-site by year end 2006 at OSE. This way we are 
generating significant local improvement: lands acquired for permanent 
sound use, millions of dollars in goods and corresponding healthy 
livelihoods generated, etc. These are measurable.

So how do we continue?


On Tue, 20 Jul 2004, minciusodas wrote:

Hi Marcin,

I am catching up with your letter.  Thank you!
Here is a "distillation" of your key needs as I understand them.

You want to: create beautiful livelihoods
By means of: open access to knowledge
In particular, expressed as: an expert system to lead the user 
through the design of a house
For which you need to:  Mastermind the collection of the information 
into integrated business models.

I would approach this so that it radiates from a human perspective.  
I would start with the human concerns, working from the wider issues 
to the narrower issues.  This is an organizing principle that will 
allow for the evolution of our knowledge.  We could create:

- A glossary of key concepts.  For you they might include "beautiful 
livelihood", "open access", "sustainability", "affordability", etc.  
You would define your key concepts in words and with examples or 
illustrations, continuously refining or expanding so they are very 
well grounded and we can understand you.  Others might restate these 
concepts in their own words.  But you would be the reference point 
for the key concepts most important for you, just as Joy Tang might 
define "AIDS economy" or Franz Nahrada might define "global 
villages".  This is not so much about the actual words, but about the 
concepts that certain individuals are anchoring with them.

- An unfolding tree of ideas.  Your outline contains many ideas about 
life, many assumptions - for example, that houses are best designed 
using principles from the natural world, that we should avoid debt, 
or that we should be financially literate.  It is important to make 
these assumptions explicit, and to clarify them.  As part of that, I 
think it is very helpful to show which assumptions are core, and 
which are derivative.  How does one assumption derive from another?  
This prioritization will make it much easier to critique, verify, 
correct and apply your principles.  I think it is also the basis for 
an expert system that would guide through decision making or learning 
processes.  For example, why should a person build a new home if they 
haven't understood why they need one?  or what are valid reasons for 
having a home, old or new?  For example, the goals of Open Source 
Ecology might be better met perhaps if people realized that they can 
live quite happily in smaller homes, or with other people.

- A documentation of subjective contexts (often as stories, but 
including relevant data, such as financial or physical) that are the 
grounding for your assumptions.  Other people may also share their 
stories.  Because generally we do not "prove" our assertions but 
instead we simply have "testimony" from people that they find it to 
be so.  (This is often what we mean by "wisdom").  This is why I 
speak of assumptions, because they are oriented to serve and direct 
our subjective outlook, and so they are and should be vulnerable to 
correction at any time.  Often this is a matter of new understanding, 
perhaps more mature, perhaps mistaken, perhaps a reinterpretation.

- The ability to generate maps of agreement or disagreement by 
participants with regard to the assumptions.  People are able to work 
together even when they do not agree on every point.  It helps for 
them to recognize where their assumptions match, and where not.  And 
how do they phrase them with regard to the key concepts.

- Often these assumptions may be detailed to show that they 
are "rules of thumb" that mediate a recurrent activity and an 
associated structure that is evoked, sustained, imposed.  We may 
speak of these as "patterns" in the sense of Christopher Alexander, 
and relate them in a "pattern language".

- At this point we can have a program of self-learning which I 
imagine is a branching out (and looping back) of questions that 
people should explore (sooner or later) if they care about a 
subject.  And it would provide means to explore the questions, 
including the study of classic texts, visits to relevant sites, 
discussion with experts, collection of data, personal investigations 
or exercises, etc.  There should also be a way to document one's 
learning and contribute one's findings.

This may sound quite abstract.  But personally I think by treating 
our questions as primarily of subjective importance, it deals with 
the most personal and important ones first.  And it quickly branches 
out to the "practical" issues like "I need to learn how to hammer" 
or "How can I get lumber?" but also "Maybe I should live with my 
grandparents instead" or "I should really move to France" or "This is 
the part with which my wife does not agree".

I think with such a system we can be well grounded so that we can 
with sufficient confidence encourage new participants, and they can 
quickly find themselves.  We may think of this system as a way for 
people to "know themselves" as straightforwardly as possible.  This 
is perhaps the greatest purpose of "open source" and the hurdle that 
it overcomes.

- It is then straightforward for students to develop business plans 
that they can test to consider if they make sense for themselves, and 
to what extent they might make sense for others.  These would 
actually be more like "life plans" rather than business plans.  So we 
would develop tools for them to express their life plans as 
calculations in the context of the tree of assumptions that they have 
personally explored and tested.

- We will also have connection with a WOW system that would help one 
find the websites that are useful in exploring these questions, and 
an online networking system for engaging the needed resources.

Marcin, would such a system satisfy your needs?  What more should be 
added? Or how would you shape this?  I think this as roughly fitting 
in with the "pattern repository" parts of our web system for working 
openly, and I will try to redraw that.

I think this system will be personally rewarding for participants and 
will also help them practically achieve what they desire.


Andrius Kulikauskas
Minciu Sodas
from Bonn, Germany


Organization: projekt

Thread: oxenT02564 Message: 1/1 L0 [In index]
Message 02564 [Homepage] [Navigation]