[ox-en] open source ecology continued
- From: "Franz Nahrada" <f.nahrada reflex.at>
- Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 10:51:28 +0200
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 (www.kb5.at)
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
From: marcin xxxxxx via globalvillages yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [globalvillages] for Marcin: a system for self-learning
To: globalvillages yahoogroups.com
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
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:
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 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.
from Bonn, Germany
Organization: projekt oekonux.de