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Interesting times article

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Hey Everyone,

Here is the article I wrote for Interesting Times Magazine that they requested.

File:Interesting times.odt - version 1.0

File:Interesting times with video.odt - version 1.1

File:Interesting times with video updated.odt - version 1.2


I adapted it from the language of the GVCS 2-minute video by Isaiah as well as the BFI Application in this blog post. I think we could use it for article submissions elsewhere as well. Feel free to edit or add as necessary, then upload the new version.

Enjoy! Adam Mitchell - True Fan Platform Developer


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We are Open Ecology: a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that are bootstrapping the next evolution—an evolution to radically local production, an evolution to high-quality living, and an evolution to freedom. You might ask how we expect to accomplish these lofty goals—specifically what is our strategy? Our ace in the hole? How do we embrace the Cyberpunk ethos of 'surthrival' analogous to the Open Ecology attribute of 'subsilience'? Hold on tight, here we go.

We are developing the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS): a set of 40 industrial machines necessary to create an abundant civilization with modern day comforts. The GVCS is is like a life-size Lego set, in which motors, parts, and power units interchange freely, providing the building blocks necessary to create resilient communities. To see the GVCS in action, watch the GVCS in 2 Minutes video at http://vimeo.com/16431347 But why resilient communities you say? Let's see...

Most people are on the verge of understanding what sustainable implies: maintain the current state of affairs by not compromising the future. Simple enough. Regenerative takes it the next step, and this is where people get lost. Regenerative is to be sustainable to the point where we are repairing the world—healing the damage, giving back, revitalizing our ecology. It's like sustainability + 1. Interestingly enough, what we are talking about is even further down the road: resiliency. Resiliency is inclusive of the regenerative concept, but includes a level of adaptability. That is, adaptability and certainty in the face of an uncertain world. When we apply these concepts to community, wonderful things happen.

Our method is open source. We see open source as a combination of process and ideas, where everything is shared freely in the public domain. Anyone has access. Anyone can change the plans to suit their personal locale and interests. And everyone is encouraged to participate, build, critique, and share. Thus by open sourcing the entire production life-cycle—from designs and assembly to putting the machine together—we are able to quickly develop solutions. And openness is more than just a process for us, we believe in openness as an ideology of transformation. Imagine the knowledge necessary for advanced civilization available to everyone, not just a limited few; we could then truly evolve to freedom.

Of course, we operate under the understanding that nature provides an abundance: abundance of energy, abundance of resources, and abundance of possibilities to live prosperously. We need not make sacrifices in quality of life to move beyond our destructive industrial systems, nor is it our agenda to perpetuate the prevailing scarcity driven system. Instead we strive to become producers of our own destiny rather than consumers of its ghostly shell.

The alchemical equation for all this is simple: Autonomous Communities + Open Source Technology = Ecological Regeneration, Resilience and Freedom

So let's get into more of the details. The GVCS provides people with technology to do more with less—to live a high-quality life in ways that do not disrupt vital ecological support systems. By utilizing local resources via the use of open source technology we render our current destructive ways obsolete. Additionally, we needn’t recreate the wheel; the GVCS is not about generating new technologies, it is about refining and open sourcing existing machines to meet the needs of people and our shared ecology.

As we have said, the key to this is the integration of open source methods—the methods of open, collaborative development that has already been demonstrated with open source software. We are extending this development model to hardware and demonstrating roughly an 8-fold cost reduction of resulting products. A global community of developers helps to produce designs, plans, and prototypes, until high-quality products, with improved performance compared to their industrial counterparts are created at a fraction of the cost.

We are at the initial stages of our experiment. We have 8 prototypes, 1 full product release, and 32 more machines to develop. However, we have already demonstrated that parts, motors, and even power units may be interchanged between different machines—like a Lego set for real construction—thereby producing an unprecedented level of ecological integration. Plug-and-play modularity and interoperability are paramount leading to all of our products being built to last (lifetime design), easy to service (design-for-disassembly), as well as simplicity by desig. Once completed, the GVCS can replicate itself entirely: imagine Lego sets that can build more Lego sets!—no doubt a dream of mine as a child! In this limit, we aim to show that we can even produce aluminum (or other metals) from clay, or silicon from sand on a local level—a matter of Knowledge and Power. Knowledge refers to the open information necessary to conceive the end product, while Power is simply the energy needed to get it done.

Again a proven equation: Open Knowledge + Abundant Power = Results

Anyone could see this to be true. We see it as fact. And we approach this understanding from the point that if we can get the cost of production down by a factor of 8, we can support the processes required for an abundant civilization. The end result is that people are in full control of their productive technology base, truly bringing about the possibility to transcend material scarcity—a foundation for evolving to higher pursuits.

Our goal is nothing short of paradigm-shattering. And together we can make it a reality at the cost of scrap metal and proper use of ubiquitous, local resources. The GVCS is applicable anywhere soil, sunshine, and water are found, which is just about everywhere. Unfortunately, we cannot do this alone—nor would we want to. It will take global knowledge and cooperation. We challenge you to join us at Open Ecology—see our results for yourself and share it with others; get involved and critique away, then add to the momentum; if you like what you see then give support by becoming a True Fan. Now that we have shared our vision with you—assuming it resonates within you—it is your obligation to do something—anything. What's truly stopping you? Perhaps nothing at all. We believe the only limit is our imagination and we won't stop until we've empowered the masses. Whatever your beliefs, ideas or talents; we are ready for you. With all our hands and all our brains, we can create a more regenerative and resilient world for all. Let's show the rest of the world what it really means to evolve to freedom!