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The Rationale for Transformaking

Text from co-organizer Jean Noël Montagné, without pictures (via email, September 2015)

"I am the founder of a hackerspace in Nice, france, called Nicelab, " Open Laboratory of Nice". I started collaborations with HONF foundation Indonesia twelve years ago. I was very happy last year, when HONF team invited me for brainstorming on the future of making and DIY spirit, when Gustav Hariman, from Bandung hackerspace, invented the word Transformaking/Transformakers. For me, this word are an opportunity to impulse a political perspective in the Makers scene in rich countries.

In France, most of the Makers are hobbyists, technolovers, geeks. They create for fun, for local glory and some, for business. But few of them are makers for social or political goals. Most of the objects created in fablabs and makerspaces in the last years are useless regarding the urgent problems of the planet. Because the planet is on fire. Climate crisis. Energy crisis. Demography crisis. Water crisis. Metals crisis. Financial cris. Education crisis, even crisis of mental health because of the abuse of digital communication. ;-)

But stop ! it's enough ! Come back to transformaking, No-one wants to ear this crude reality !

And that's the problem: historians studying the extinction of old civilisations in the last millinaries have discovered that leaders and populations perfectly knew the serious problems of their time but they have ignored the scientific advices and all indicators turning to red, until the end. We are doing exactly the same and we don't have a lot of time to act. We must transform all sectors of the society before the conjunction of some important crisis, and transformakers will help us to do it.

In the global village, industry is totaly dependant of flux, networks of raw materials, energy, goods, tools, components, distribution and transportation. Any failure on one spot can disturb or stop all the chain, from extraction of raw materials to distribution of goods. This interdependency is an enormous fragility in the context of the coming crisis, and transformakers can help us to break it.

We have all noticed that we can't really count on our political systems to find efficient solutions, we should count on ourselves. We, citizens, can buid resilient communities, based on small structures, driven by direct democracy, and based on big citizenship networking. We have the digital tools and the network to do it.

Transformakers have a key role in this transition from globalisation to resilience.

Let's have a deeper look in this crisis instead of being blind to reality. If we are here in Jogyakarta, it's because we have understood what is coming, and how Transformaking can help us.

The first crisis to observe with the glasses of transformaking is climate crisis.

-In december in France, during the UN conference about climate change, COP21, a hundred presidents and 25 000 leaders and technocrates will brainstorm on how to impose radical solutions to nations, or not, for limiting the rise of the global temperature to 2 degrees more.

For me, it's an announced fail.

A fail because the goals of the meeting started in a wrong direction. Accepting 2 degrees more, in average, on the planet, is accepting violent transformations of the climate: hurricanes, floods, dryness, wildfires, pollination problems, soil erosion, insect, animals and vegetal invasions, viruses emergence, and so on, that will create a giant loose of biodiversity, massive extinction of species in earth and ocean during years. Look at what's happening with just a half degree more in the last fourty years, we see important effects on the poles, on the climatology, on water storage, on agriculture, on the acidity of ocean.

So 2 degrees more will create huge environemental and social disorders, unstability everywhere, wars, starvations. Hundred millions of refugees could have to move, but move where ?. The management of this mass of refugees can completely dismantle the geopolitic equilibrium and will deeply affect all the planet. A new era of chaos, but a opportunity for changing radically the system in good directions.

This meeting will be a fail, because the richest countries don't want to change their way of life in the direction of degrowth, wich is the only realist solution. And because developing countries with a big growth, like in Asia, South America or Africa for example, don't want to stop this mad race to personal enrichment. Look. This is a picture taken here in a street of Jogjakarta

Can you imagine what can happen, in terms of energy, in terms of circulation, in terms of urbanity, in terms of pollution, in terms of fluidity of a city and merchandise transport if all this people earn enough money to buy a car for rainy days ?

How transformakers can help in the context of climate crisis ?

By helping us to change the scale from globalization to small resilient networked communities. By helping us to rebuild real democracy. By helping us redefine our urbanisation, our usage of the lands. By helping us to rebuild our social organisation around knowledge networks.

Second crisis affecting the world is energy crisis: all our societies and economies are totally dependent on oil: the actual madness of the low prices must not mask that conventional Oil had a production peak few years ago. We live now in the illusion of infinite Unconventional oil and shale gas, but this new prosperity will have a end. And it will not be possible to drill and destroy all our lands and groundwater everywhere and continue to produce greenhouse gas. The planet has a limited quantity of fossil energy in the ground, and we are reaching the limits in one or two generations, our children.

Coal will stay a durable low cost solution for many countries, increasing the climate chaos. The actual very low cost of oil is a unique opportunity to invest in renewable energies, but few people, few nations have understood that. ( New Zealand, Denmark, Bhoutan, etc)

We imagine how Transformakers can help in the context of energy crisis and interdependency: in the same direction of autonomy and solidarity. Changing the scale again. We must harvest clean energy, renewable energy everywhere, and share it. Hackers and Transformakers have a lot of solutions.

The third big crisis, coming at the same time, is a the crisis of ressources: pure water is missing everywhere because of very bad managements, but the most important resource crisis will come with metals: here is the previsional calendar about the peak of production of metals. Source from one famous elit engineer shcool in france Ecole Centrale:

Transformakers must help us to redefine our materials strategies our industrial strategies. How to go from globalization of the production of very bad quality goods, to small autonomous production of very solid tools and productions ? How to organise a clever recycling of all raw materials ? how to change the scale in the direction of self-democratic management, citizen industry, is again the problem to solve. And transformakers have a lot of solutions.

No lessons have been taken from the 2008 crash. Fragility of the economy grows with technological improvments in high frequency trading. 95% of daily market transactions does not involve goods, but only speculation. The debts of many countries are deeper every day, and those debts places the political teams under the control of big banks, big monetary regulators driven by banks, and under the control of big companies wich doesnt care about common goods. This provoke also a crisis of democracy, of citizenship,

Hackers and transformakers have always worked on the evolution of money. Digital encrypted currencies, local moneys, networks of exchange, P2P moneys are research we should more focus on very quickly, because solutions exist to be less dependant on banks and markets.

Come back to transformaking, and let's have a look to good, positive news, coming from everywhere in the world.

We discover today that good social, environemental and financial practices have always existed. Transformaking is the common behaviour in many communities in the world, especially in rural areas: do it yourself, DIWithOthers, Do It Together: people invent tools and technologies adapted to their context, to their pragmatic needs, using few ressources, using local resources, people repair, they recycle, they hack objects, they transmit the knowledge to young generations.

In social organisation, all over the world, small communities use solidarity structures, monetary arrangements, like barter systems that can be considered as local money, in a pure peer to peer exchange. The organisation of traditional communities are big lessons for us and this model just need digital tools to be adapted to small communities in modern world.

Transformaking has had also an official arrival in our society, 30 years ago, when hackers started to change the world with the first open source software licences, wich was one of the most powerfull polititcal act of the XXth century. Artists have followed the movement 20 years ago with open source documents and artworks licences, and some makers have taken another important step, ten years ago, with Open Source Hardware licences. This is transformaking: changing the society by offering alternatives containing the values of solidarity and knowledge.

Open source technologies, from their concept to production or distribution, open the possibility of a total citizen control on technology. It's now possible to envision human-scale industry, citizen industry, decentralized industry, like our ancestors did before industrial revolution. The ecosystem of transformaking is self-organised around knowledge networks. Any technological process can be created or imporved by transfomakers, because networks of knowledge, network of citizen research, and network of materials and components exists. In the recent years, transformakers have started to design and build very complicated open source machines related to many sectors of industry, and citizen research attacks now topics like high tech medecine, nuclear physics, nanotechnologies or genetics.

Patents are living their last twenty years, even in some very protected niche industries, like for example medical equipements: look at this slides:

One could argue that hackers, transformekrs are not regulated by authorities, certifications, ethics comitees ? and could launch dangerous projects for the society ? No.

Because we are network of citizens, we are self organized and the debate is always open in open source technologies. Creation and correction of code follow real democratic rules.

How to push more transformaking in society ?

- first by protecting internet and the net neutrality. Networking tools are essential for democracy and sharing of the knowledge. Big companies like Facebook and GAFAM are silently killing internet by replacing all software on the client side, by services driven by their data-suckers servers.

by supporting hackers and transformakers projects through crowdfundings

by opening new medialabs, hackerspaces, makerspaces, and open laboratories, and specialized of them ( biology, health, agriculture, etc)

by opening places in cities to dismantle, repair, recycle objects, parts, etc

by choosing to use open source software and open source hardware when available

by funding P2P and common goods initiatives on all sectors of society ==> P2P foundation

- by installing education programms about hacking, about transformaking,

Transition from globalisation to new resilient small scale networked societies is necessary and must start now. Transformakers are the first explorers of a post capitalist era. But they don't move alone. Many new citizen organisations, new style political movements are following the movement, but most of them ignore what transformakers are doing.

Transformakers have started to transform the society through new behaviours based on local resources, local solidarities, self-management and direct democracy, and based on global communication and global exchange of knowledge.

Instead of loosing energy to impulse this vision into standard political systems, it look more efficient to start building initiatives around us, responding to our values, co-existing with the actual system, and if our alternatives are good, if our models takes sense into the society, they will naturally replace the old system, without war, without revolutions."