[ExI] Fwd: Think fast: mutual introductions

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Sat Jul 4 17:44:03 UTC 2009

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Eric Hunting <erichunting at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM
Subject: Re: Think fast: mutual introductions
To: Bryan Bishop <kanzure at gmail.com>

Joeseph's comment was excellent. I would like to mention, though, some
of the currently most well-known models of a post-scarcity -also
sometimes paired to the term Post-Industrial- society that are often
bantered about in the Maker community and often appear in some
variation in recent Diamond Age/Transhumanist science fiction;
anonymous Swiss activist author P.M.'s Bolo community model which
leans toward a more soft-tech model of sustainability relying largely
on the dividend in human time recaptured through the elimination of
profit on labor, the leveraging of individual capability though
community based on open reciprocal production (making things on demand
free -within reason- for your neighbors on the assumption everyone
else does the same for you), Buckminster Fuller's World Game model
rooted in the notion of rational resource-based economics based on
open reciprocity and cooperation, and Jacque Fresco's Cybernation,
which was the inspiration behind the recent Zeitgeist viral video
craze and leans on a more mid-century Modernist notion of Total
Automation combined to a rational (because it's automated...)
World-Game-like global resource-based economics. (I often refer to
this as the Star Trek model of post-scarcity as that represents the
definitive example, though the concept appears in far older science

As for ToolBook, this is a notion I've been proposing for dealing with
the problem of incoherence in the development of open source
industrial tools and technology in the current Maker movement. As an
open, global, and highly inclusive movement of largely independent and
individual enthusiasts, the current community of open technology
developers have a very incoherent base of interdisciplinary knowledge.
This incoherence hampers the evolution of that technology and tends to
limit its potential sophistication and social/cultural/economic impact
by creating large learning curves for newcomers and compelling people
to frequently re-invent the wheel through trial and error. Key to this
problem is a lack of a structured way of documenting and communicating
this knowledge -particularly knowledge about tools and base
technologies- in the context of the new emerging literary form that
the Maker culture is inventing ad hoc; the 'recipe' form commonly seen
on sites like the Make and Instructibles blogs which combines text,
illustration, photography, sometimes video, and sometimes software
into a hybrid instructional presentation for how to make or use a tool
or artifact.

The initial objective of ToolBook is to pair a community of open
technology developers to a companion community of freelance media
developers (writers, artist, videographers) with the intent of
cultivating open industrial technology while simultaneously
cultivating and disseminating a structured library of open source
knowledge for it. It would be focused primarily on tools -on systems
for production and their underlying techniques and technology- rather
than artifacts but would include standard-of-living-defining products
and systems. (this derives from an earlier proposal, the Open Source
Everything project, which was intended to cultivate a library of open
source designs and production systems for all the things that a
contemporary western standard of living is based on -enabling an
entrepreneurial localization of their production) Near term objectives
focus primarily on standardizing and structuring the recipe document
and various forms of courseware media as a better medium for
disseminating 'industrial literacy'. Long-term, the goal would be to
develop document architectures that are simultaneously human and
machine readable so they can ultimately be 'compiled' to production
programs for fab shops (a fab shop is a higher order of fabber where a
series of modular production systems specialized in materials spectrum
and production technique -like the different machines in a fab lab-
are integrated into a whole automated production system linked by
digital network and product handling/transport devices such as simple
pick-and-place robots and conveyors)

The initial model is of a freelance publishing and production
cooperative that employs for-profit media publishing and kit
manufacture (with a Lulu.com type of model) to pay for open source
development (and a modest living for those developers), third world
and relief technology outreach, public access on-line knowledge
repositories, and the creation of a collection of shared resources
such as fab labs, media studios, on-line resources, work spaces,
materials/supplies banks, and job-shop production facilities. The
initial products would simply be books, videos, software, ad space on
public access web sites, and building kits.

Relating to this is the Vajra proposal. A possible joint venture of
the ToolBook co-op, Vajra would be a Maker incubator eco-community; a
small village centered on a shared fab lab which is used not only to
develop open source tech but also to produce the collections of
modular components the village itself is made with using adaptive
plug-in architecture. The basic model for this is something I
generically call Utilihab in its proposed open source form but which
currently represents a collection of building systems based on
industrial T-slot framing such as Jeriko House, Tomahouse, KitHaus,
and It House. Though rooted in the ToolBook project as a founding
source of support and with the incubation of open technology in a
cooperative community setting its primary focus, Vajra would seek to
cultivate sustainable industrial independence in a Bolo-like system of
open reciprocal production -though with the very nascent current open
industrial technology this is a very long-term goal. I'm pragmatic
about the concept of totally independent self-sufficiency and consider
this a commonly underestimated and even heroic challenge with at-hand
technology. Vajra isn't intended to be a model for this even if it
pursues it as an idealized long-term goal. It's intended to be an
incubator of Post-Industrial culture -most likely in an urban or
semi-urban setting. It's more about cultivating and awareness of
industrial literacy, disseminating the means to that literacy, and
suggesting the social and economic potential that has rather than
being a pocket working model of Post-Industrial life to replicate en
masse. Though a popular concept in a culture fed-up with 'the system'
and its emergent failures. in reality, we, as a species, have never
actually lived with such a hermetic biosphere-on-orbit degree of
self-sufficiency as is so often proposed and assumed easy. So I see
this much as Bolo author P.M. has -contingent on a broad skill and
production spectrum within a pretty large community and social network
of which a community like Vajra would be just one -albeit founding-
node. Networks matter more to survival and subsistence than how much
food you can grow on an acre.

Eric Hunting
erichunting at gmail.com

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