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[ox-en] leapfrogging debate: where will it happen? in the west or not?

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I think this is of interest here as well, see

Michel Bauwens:

"In any transition, three phases can be recognized: 1) the pioneering phase
which takes place in the dominant countries of the old sphere (example:
emergent of merchants in feudal/imperial Spain and Portugal); 2) a
revolutionary/evolutionary phase: the revolution takes place at the
periphery (i.e. the merchants take power in Holland and England), while in
the former dominant countries, an evolutionary caste merger takes place. But
the countries where the revolution takes place, become the new dominant
power centers. Example: the workers revolution's took place at the periphery
in Russia and China, but in the West,the elite of the worker's caste merged
with the merchant class to form social-welfare with technocratic capitalism.

Now to my own point. Think of the new OSCAR open source solar car project.
Who in the West would be interested? It seems unlikely as workers would take
a pay cut, and capital would be weary of operating without the IP projection
that guarantees state-protected extra profits. But what of the Asian capital
owners, who are in any case already illegaly copying many IP-protected
designs. Why would they not be interested in taking up such copyright free
designs? I see such an evolution as a distinct possibility." (

Eric Hunting on Concurrent Development

Open production will be developed concurrently but separately, in the more
industrially advanced Western countries, vs. the rest of the world.

Eric Hunting:

"No question, the developing world and the urban poor are going to benefit
more sooner from Post-Industrial technology and community systems than
western people. So, yes, this stuff does seem to indeed make far more
immediate sense to pursue elsewhere. There it is an immediate matter of life
or death. But the knowledge and skill pool that must be tapped into to
cultivate these technologies, designs, and systems is largely here in the
west, embodied by middle-class technical professionals. So, in fact, these
things do have practical importance here. We're learning the necessary skill
set to move beyond an increasingly decrepit model of civilization into a new
one as well as re-learning the skill set we need to effectively interact
with the rest of the world in a viable way -to stop the knuckle-headed
patterns of relating to the world that produce perpetually ineffectual
relief efforts. That may not be a matter of life or death in the here and
now for western people, but it's still a practical pursuit in that it is
necessary for the purpose of harnessing the knowledge pool of the
middle-class for the purpose of developing those technologies we wish to
deploy elsewhere.

To put it another way, Post-Industrial technology means different things to
people in the west and to people in the rest of the world. In the west this
about re-asserting control of our own lives through the assertion of control
over the basis of our standard of living and re-establishing the lost skills
and culture of community in the process. As a dividend, we potentially
recover huge amounts of personal time sacrificed to other people's profit we
can re-invest in amplifying this pursuit. Elsewhere, this is about
establishing a means to, at first, survival, and ultimately an entirely new
standard of living. And even between the urban and rural poor in
industrialized countries and in the rest of the world there are great
differences in the context of the situations people are subject to and so,
again, these technologies will have different meanings in each situation.
People are not poor for the same reasons everywhere. If subscription farming
works somewhere else besides middle-class towns in Europe it will work for
very different reasons and probably not exactly the same way. This will be
the case for most Post-Industrial tech.

We cannot create a model Post-Industrial community that works in the west
that also works in the rest of the world too. We can't engineer this like a
tin can lunar habitat to be mass produced and dropped by spaceship all over
the world. All we can do is cultivate a collection of technologies that are
relatively adaptable and modular and can thus be repurposed in local
contexts. (and we can't always control how that's going to turn out. OScars
WILL be turned into 'technicals'. All we can do is hope that, collectively,
the technology we disseminate precludes the compulsion to do that most of
the time)

So the pursuit of Post-Industrial community development in the west and for
the rest are -at least- two completely different, if related, pursuits with
different purposes. They may share common technology but that's about it.
Very different strategies must be employed in each context. Post-Industrial
technology is nascent. We've barely started on the means to replicating our
tools. It can do a lot of good right now and that's worth pursuing, but it's
nowhere near enough. There are too few of us to matter. So what's important
now is accelerating the pace of the technology development so it can be
disseminated to the rest and be independently perpetuated there, and right
now that's a job we have to start predominately in the west, were the
knowledge is. This will be more two-way in the future as outreach efforts
have impact, but right now the flow of technology is still predominately
west-to-the-rest. So the logical purpose of the western Post-Industrial
demonstration community is creating an environment optimized for recruitment
and innovation -NOT creating a model to replicate in Africa- to encourage as
many people as possible to participate in this tech development. Such a
community may specifically pursue technology appropriate to the developing
world as part of its agenda. But you won't get that many middle-class
technical professional participants willing to trade their own standard of
living for the privilege of participating in that. To harness these minds to
their fullest potential means providing the largest number of them possible
with an environment that frees them from squandering their time on mere
subsistence -or turns their activity into a means, and incentive, to realize
that freedom. And THAT's why creating these infrastructures in the west is
just as important as doing it elsewhere. (this, of course, is the very same
reason TMP2 pursues the cultivation of a Post-Industrial society. It's that
productivity dividend it banks on for eliminating the drag of Earth's
chronic problems and for freeing society to pursue space. Spaceship Earth
has no ejector seats or lifeboats. We get our act together here or we never
get anywhere else. This is a surprisingly radical point of view in the space
advocacy community)

Develop here. Deploy there. Two very different tasks in two very different
environments. They can be pursued concurrently, but the technology remains
under-developed and flows predominately from the former to the latter right
now and so optimizing that is the immediate priority." (

Jeff Buderer

"The reason for leapfrogging is simple from my perspective. Disruptive
technology development has undercut the competitive advantage of industries
that are reluctant to find effective and empowering solutions for
communities because they are afraid of losing control and power of the
global economy. The notion that large scale corporate level economies of
scale are needed to produce products and services is being challenged in
this process. The notion of the modern more self-reliant community is
emerging (as part of the process of developing a strategy to create a
globally sustainable society/civilization). Developing regions may have the
advantage because the economics of stranded costs (as well as related social
factors that inhibit real innovation and change at the community level in
developed regions) is keeping the developed nations from effectively
retooling their economies and societies to take advantage of the potential
P2P revolution.) as competitive alterantives to existing top down

A country which has limited infrastucuture is like a empty slate and thus
there is less need to deal with entrenched vested interests that are seeking
to preserve the status quo at least in terms of modern economic sectors in
terms of the allocation of the resources. For example the phone industry
while often monopolistic in these regions, usually has not developed a
mature set of services such as in the case of telecoms; extensive land line
coverage for internet and phone service. One of the positive aspects of
neoliberalism has been pressure put on these countries to encourage more
innovation and competitiveness in the economic sector. For P2P and Open
Source solutions in these regions to be utilized and effectively deployed
they have to be enabled by a free market/open society
social-political-economic infrastructure that is not hobbled by the law of
vested interests/corruption. If that structure for "free and open play" is
not in place then, economic vested interests will continue to dominate with
the support of the political elites in these regions and it be business as

We are dealing with this very reality in Ghana where wireless broadband is
maturing and is becoming more competitive with fixed wired broadband
solutions there is an emerging battle between small scale wireless networks
and the large dominant telecoms.

Similar battles are emerging in every sector of the economy in every part of
the world, a reversal of open society processes in societies around the
world could put that process in jeopardy. Because for P2P technologies to
emerge (and for the leapfrogging model Michel outlined in the beginning of
this thread) as competitive alterantives to existing top down approaches we
need a free market. Another we need to consider is the political realignment
that will complement this process and the need to better organize that
process by seeking third way political parties that overcome to tired and
worn out us verses them zero sum thinking that typified the modern mind
whether at the institutional or the personal and individual level. The two
are indeed interconnected and symbiotic in creating a dysfunctional world.

Regarding (I think it was Dave's comment...) The questioning of appropriate
and disruptive technologies is to some degreee appropriate as we cannot be
sure that technologies developed in this way will not be coopted and used to
further cement corporate and top down domination and also to genuinely
create a more sustainable society. We have to constantly challenge ourselves
and to ask the tough questions: are we really part of the solution or just
putting forward more of the same flawed thinking that got our societies to
the point where they are now." (email, September 2008)

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