Monday, July 23, 2007

Tools or Toys

Many of you know that my view of the future includes the creation of internet families or coops. I believe that the only way to really "create what we need" in the social, legal, and economic fields, is to, well, create what we need. To spend more time trying to elect truly progressive national leaders in this corporate controlled environment is a colossal waste of energy, resources, and time. (even though there is no such thing as waste).

Rather, it seems that we should begin to build new creations of social contract that transcend the nation state agreement . We can do that now with the tools we have been given. Yet, most of us are still wedded to the idea that we must work within the system.

I argue that we should create a new system of cooperation that will ultimately be as powerful as the current system based on capital and competition. Then, these new institutions can compete in the bigger world of giant corporations and other public institutions.

Most people seem to understand the concept, but few seem to really "Grok" the concept. This article by David Pollard seems to capture some of the reasons why so few really have the vision or the imaging power to begin this movement towards global unions and coops.

How to Save the World

"A lot of my friends and readers are technophiles. They believe that social networking and other technologies can make the world a much better place. I'd like to believe it, but I don't.

The industrial economy is rigged. It is not a 'market' economy or a 'free' economy. It is designed to reduce us to mere, insatiable consumers -- of politicians' promises with our tax dollars, of overpriced, imported crap products, of 'education', of packaged information and entertainment 'products', of health treatments etc.

We are given just enough cash and credit to keep us addicted, and we are isolated from serious social interaction to make us compliant. No great conspiracy. That's just how the world works best when the objective is to maximize profit and GDP.

We are not people in this economy.

We are consumers, taxpayers, students, audiences, patients. Numbers. Demographics. (clip)

The glue that holds natural communities together is physical and emotional, not virtual or intellectual. To make them work, and to make them sustainable, they must be part of a massive relocalization of the way we live and the way we make a living.

Long distance social relationships may be pleasant and instructive, but they are not the stuff of true community. As useful as the Internet is in letting us practice social arts, it may actually be an impediment to creating real, sustainable community, something we can depend on, live on.

The economics of natural enterprise and natural community are inherently local, geographically centred on physical place. I know this is hard to explain, which is perhaps why I keep putting off trying to express it.


Most of what our economy is about is atoms, not bits. It is quality, locally produced food and clothing and building materials. It is creation and recreation that we participate in, in person.

Ultimately we will have to abandon the illusion that we can be part of a global, virtual, ever-changing 'electronic' community, that we can be citizens of the whole world, that social networks and technology can change the world.

Eventually we have to come back to place, to true community, and make it work, face to face.

The world we will face by the end of this century, a world of cascading crises and horrific scarcity, will not allow us to play with technology. This technology is fragile and needs huge amounts of energy stolen from future generations to work at all.

We cannot afford it. This future world, a world of rust and reclamation, will force us to face hard truths. Our future social networks will be held together with flesh and sweat, not messages and VoIP.

It's time we got down to the business of figuring out how our descendants will live, and make a living, when the ephemeral constructs of our rapacious, delusional age are gone. It's important to get started, with love and without illusion. Here, now, in this place.

The time for toys is over."

This pretty much captures the position of a lot of the peak oil doomsters.

They see our tools as toys.

Cowboys surely said the same thing about

horseless carriages.

I think that growing a global nervous system,

a noosphere,

will connect the global community in ways that

we are just now beginning to understand.

Physical space and Social space

will continue to be blurred.

Of course, I can't eat bits or packets of IP,

any more than I can sleep in my flat screen.

But ask a rake how to get to the farmer's market,

Or ask a bed for a good place to stay.

In my view of the future,

We will need all the tools we can muster.

Whether or not they are toys,

isn't a function of the the tool,

it's a function of its beholder.

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Blogger oZ said...

I made some changes to the post in the afternoon. There was several areas that needed work for readability's sake.

I changed geographic to social in the last paragraph.

I was a bit hurried getting this one out.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ch. tomorrow
make the world a better place.....
this is really the big question,
or not the question at all....
until now,all what we did,
we did under the flag of this idea.............
and the only way back,into the future,out of this desastre is.....
to let it be..........
dont make the world a better place,
because it is better than you believe....
everything is there....
all what we need....
dont be afraid....
nothing is there to be done....
take place on earth
and let it be......

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Instantaneous communication does not promote and may obscure the judgment and insight that are the hallmarks of information passed by personal contact. The getting of real news -- the sort that one can learn from minstrels (and perhaps from teleconferencing) -- is not a mechanical act so much as it is a social process, and the social precondition for it is community."

-- Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, "The Writing on the Wall". from the book/symposium proceedings "Communications in the 21st Century", John Wiley and Sons, NY, 1981.

8:02 AM  

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