[p2p-research] A 1980s footnote on a p2p precursor (was Building Alliances)
michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 17:11:31 CET 2009
thanks Paul, pretty sure I will never write that book though ..<g>
On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 9:54 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
> Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> Ryan wrote:
>>> Innovation theorists so often now turn to Von Hippel at MIT. I remember
>>> reading his book a few years ago and thinking...what is he even talking
>>> about? I don't see where we've moved the ball.
>> As for [Eric] von Hippel, before him preciously few people recognized
>> the power of social innovation by users, it still seems a pretty
>> fundamental contribution for me, especially as he saw it years before
>> others started acknowledging it,
> Just adding my work as a footnote. :-) That work was explained in part to
> another von Hippel (Frank) and grew in part out of his public policy class
> at the Princeton Woodrow Wilson School in 1988, though it had earlier roots
> like an (unpublished) essay I wrote called "The Vertical Corporation", and
> some earlier work, even back to Steve Slaby's class in Princeton on "The
> Technological Imperative of the Arms Race" around 1984 or so, and roots
> before that in reading James P. Hogan's writings, like "The Two Faces of
> I presented there the idea of a self-replicating non-profit that built a
> network of information about sustainability and put it into practice
> locally, and also in an application for a MacArthur graduate fellowship to
> continue that work, and pretty much everyone thought it was crazy, with no
> hope of success. :-) Frank was also concerned it would lead to weapons
> proliferation to have distributed manufacturing like I outlined. I had a
> Hypercard prototype I built back then of "Stella", too (mostly just a
> demo, and named after an 80 year old Countess I was hanging out with then
> who had an interest is solar energy and other sustainable technology).
> Example one (from 1988):
> 1. Various projects at Brown, MIT, Stanford, Bellcore, Xanadu, and Apple
> have produced hypertext information management systems. These seem to be
> future of information management. I would like to put such a system on the
> IRIS [an early Silicon Graphics Workstation model of which there were many
> in a networked classroom lab] so that people at Princeton can use it and
> extend it. This should take a year's work, and probably cost around
> NSF or Apple should fund this. We could put a hypercard compatible system
> IRIS in the case of Apple. ..
> 10. Beyond these individual tools, we need a good system for allowing
> multiple people to work together on a project on the IRIS's (or across
> campus). This entails producing workgroup software for managing shared
> databases, electronic mail, and other communications and coordination
> systems. To get into this will involve at least a year and probably
> Various electronic mail companies and software houses, as well as major
> companies and governmental agencies may be interested in funding various
> parts of this. Suggestions are Dupont, Da Vinci Systems, Apple, IBM, DEC,
> NASA, and Ford.
> See also:
> "Jakob Nielsen has pointed out that HyperCard was really only a hypermedia
> program since its links started from regions on a card, not text objects;
> actual HTML-style text hyperlinks were possible in later versions, but were
> awkward to implement and seldom used. Bill Atkinson later lamented that if
> he had only realized the power of network-oriented stacks, instead of
> focusing on local stacks on a single machine, HyperCard could have become
> the first Web browser."
> Example two (from 1990, but representing the earlier ideas, which were in
> two documents for that call, "The Self-Replicating Garden" plus an earlier
> very different version):
> Using Stella, Sunrise is developing a technological web to allow the
> Institute to rely on sustainable technology for 90% of its operations.
> Sustainable technology is technology that can be used indefinitely without
> harm to the environment and which can be recycled or disposed of without
> environmental damage. Every system developed or adapted will be put into
> Stella and made public domain for anyone to use. These systems would
> eventually include housing, food production, paper use, energy use,
> transportation, communications, and computing. Stella would be used to
> assess priorities and degrees of sustainability for all the technology the
> institute relies on.
> Like any living system, Sunrise will grow over time. Sunrise's growth
> strategy will be to replicate itself in other communities. Each institute
> will have a Stella system, and the Stella systems will all communicate with
> each other to share innovations. In this fashion, Sunrise can help many
> communities increase their use of sustainable technology.
> As the institute grows, it will market sustainable technology it has
> invented or discovered to the surrounding community on an ability to pay
> basis. In addition it will provide consulting to organizations increasing
> their sustainability and decreasing their negative impact on the
> When established, the work environment at Sunrise offers the following to
> employees and their dependants: food, shelter, energy, tools, work space,
> health care, day care, transportation, communication, computation,
> goods, education, a retirement plan, creative companionship, and a small
> salary for a few luxuries. While no one at Sunrise will get rich, Sunrise
> employees know they and their families will be provided for. The Sunrise
> environment is experimental: the employees live with, work with, and test
> technology they have discovered and developed. Since all work is in the
> public domain, Sunrise employees know they work in service of humanity and
> not a specific corporation. Sunrise employees have no fears that some
> organization might shelve their ideas and deprive them of rights to use
> them. By setting a high degree of self-reliance as a goal, Sunrise helps
> assure stability for its employees no matter what happens to the larger
> While not-for-profit, Sunrise still needs money to operate. Sunrise's
> money will come from the following areas: 1. Donations 2. Grants 3.
> Individual and Corporate Memberships 5. Proceeds from selling sustainable
> technology 6. Proceeds from consulting on sustainable technology 7.
> from workshops and tours 8. Proceeds from selling access to databases [not
> from selling the data!]
> On an operating level, Sunrise will strive to utilize volunteers,
> exchange services with other non-profits, and supply its needs from the
> in-house productivity of its own staff whenever possible. Since Sunrise
> provides most of the necessities of its staff and their dependants,
> can be low.
> By focusing on developing, testing, and using new methods of production,
> Sunrise will acquire over time a physical infrastruture that is an
> embodiement of the ideas in Stella. This infrastructure will include
> tools, housing, a seed bank, breeding stock, energy production facilities,
> recycling centers, biological sewage treatment facilities, day care
> computer hardware, meeting rooms, vehicles, and so forth. Employees using
> this capital along with Stella will be able to extend the capital base at
> times without the necessity for large amounts of money. This is possible
> through the use of collected energy applied to recycle materials and
> manufacture them into needed items that more than make up for the wear and
> tear (overhead) involved in creating them.
> This is the fourty year timeline of goals for Sunrise:
> 1990 - 50 members, computer workstation, greenhouse, 100 items in Stella
> 1991 - Several staff, ten volunteers, 200 members, several workstations, on
> site housing and day care, 1000 items in Stella
> 1992 - 10,000 items in Stella. On site energy production
> 1993 - 50 staff on site, 50,000 items in Stella
> 1995 - 200 staff on 2 sites, 100,000 items in Stella
> 2001 - 10 institutes, 1 million items in Stella, Desert Institute.
> 2011 - 30 Institutes, 10 million, Antarctic Institute
> 2033 - 100 Institutes, 100 million, O'Neill Habitat Institute
> I'd say my "evil" plans are ahead of schedule in some ways at this point,
> especially if I lay metaphorical claim to all the p2p stuff going on and
> Wikipedia and so on. :-) That's mostly just for fun, of course, but with a
> tiny kernel of truth in the sense that I was, for a time, part of that
> larger social network around Princeton and the political and energy/physics
> community, like how the Pointrel system has a relation to WordNet. Related
> humor at the end here:
> Many people had seeds of ideas, some very few were on fertile soil (like at
> CERN or MIT), but those grew, and grew, and grew. Or the seeds were just
> better and healthier in some way.
> Wikipedia has about three million items in English, and many more in other
> languages, so it is close to that prediction/intent/desire of ten million
> items in the public domain (or now, free licenses). But the web itself is
> much more, of course. So, is that timeline above for saving the world from
> itself on schedule, or even ahead of schedule? :-)
> In Frank von Hippel's class, someone recommended I read "Walden II" by B.F.
> Skinner and implied that was what I was talking about (there are some
> parallels, especially about sustainable technology), same as Ryan and
> often seem to read coercion into anything about cooperation. Still, the
> competitive landscape we have is terribly coercive, as Bob Black points
> from 1985, so it is hard to get much worse on a hours-spent-under-coercion
> ... Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have
> rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren't free like we
> are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or else, no
> matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance.
> State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The
> officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or
> private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers
> regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing.
> And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern
> workplace. The liberals and conservatives and Libertarians who lament
> totalitarianism are phonies and hypocrites. There is more freedom in any
> moderately de-Stalinized dictatorship than there is in the ordinary
> workplace. You find the same sort of hierarchy and discipline in an office
> or factory as you do in a prison or a monastery. In fact, as Foucault and
> others have shown, prisons and factories came in at about the same time,
> their operators consciously borrowed from each other's control techniques.
> worker is a part-time slave. ...
> Still, I was wondering about those sorts of issues, like how do you deal
> with people who want to freeload, and it was very grand (or even grandiose)
> in the sense of transforming the world just starting from one seed and a
> growing public domain of information related to it, so I can't say they
> entirely wrong.
> I've since realized, freeloading just is not a problem:
> But what about all the "slackers" who will consume without giving back? The
> answer is just, "So what?" Why not have pity on such people who are stuck
> such an embarrassingly juvenile state of mind? My mom, a hard worker,
> dreamed of being a slacker in a big house with servants. You know where she
> found her dream? A nursing home. :-( So, be careful what you wish for,
> slacker wannabees. :-)
> If a few can supply the many, then, so what of the slackers? Who cares?
> Why build a whole mythology around slackers? And surprisingly, there may be
> less slackers than one might expect, because when you have the freedom to
> make things your way, without a "boss", there is often a lot of fun to be
> had in making things. Just look at all the kids making free music for the
> internet these days. Or people writing web pages. :-)
> Examples like the Israeli Kibbutzim have already shown in the past that
> even with hard manual labor, there are always a bunch of schmucks (like
> maybe even myself and my wife, or many others already working in
> non-profits :-)
> who are willing to work hard even with apparent slackers in their face.
> Sure, Kibbutzim had problems with slackers, but modern automated robotic
> technology changes the nature of that situation:
> (and without bringing in migrant laborers to exploit and expose to
> pesticides). And how hard can it be to sit in your GPS-driven
> air-conditioned tractor and listen to free music? Or even make some more
> music of your own in between keeping an eye on how the robots are doing?
> This is the world the prospective Princeton student is probably imagining
> these days as in their future -- or will be soon. :-) Robot tractors. Free
> music. GNU/Linux everywhere. Slackers who only take stuff and don't make
> stuff as being "so junior high" or "so nursing home". Essentially, these
> kids are imagining (or will soon) a John Lennon "Imagine" sort of world --
> with abundance and security for all. With robot tractors able to get higher
> yields from less land and less water through precision farming, why fight
> much about the agricultural fields or river water? With nanotech solar
> panels and nanotech near-perfect insulation, why fight about the oil
> Times change; as I see it, aspects of what I outlined are what is
> but in a differently networked way, not connected to a grand plan of a
> single self-replicating non-profit (although it is interesting to see what
> is being discussed now on this list about connected p2p related research
> social centers). What I outlined was more hierarchical in a way (one
> company), but what is happening is a lot more networked and chaordic. And
> what is happening is better, at this point. :-)
> Some of this is a matter of perspective. :-)
> And my whole proposal may seem a little nutty looking back on it, and
> certainly over-ambitious, but so was trillions spent on nuclear weapons to
> blow us all up, which is what I was responding to.
> Anyway, we still have another two years to get that Antarctic P2P Media
> Institute up and running, according to that timeline. :-) Could I lay claim
> to Arcosanti intellectually as the desert institute? :-) And could I lay
> claim to the entire Debian GNU/Linux project as "staff"? Then this
> exponential world domination plan would be right on schedule. Even ahead of
> schedule. :-) Subject to being a little out of touch with actual reality
> who is in charge of all that in a chaordic way. :-)
> "Dr. Evil catches up on the last couple decades"
> "Dr. Evil, if we shift our resources away from evil empires, and towards
> Starbucks, we can increase our profits five-fold...
> SILENCE! I will not tolerate your insolence!"
> Sure, it was grand... And nutty. As Albert Einstein said, "If at first, the
> idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."
> Anyway, just hoping for a footnote in your book as a related p2p grand plan
> that fizzled. :-) Maybe all for the best? :-) Sometimes, we just don't
> understand the bigger picture? :-)
> "The Terminator and Jesus"
> And, I like the way things are happening now better. It's a lot less
> stressful to be a little node in a network than trying to invent and manage
> the whole thing. I'm just a little warped from the process of trying,
> perhaps. :-)
> Maybe I'll have some real success when I give up? :-)
> Anyway, maybe I became the anti-Princeton, in a sense, somewhere along the
> line? :-) Although, that's only metaphorically, because there were many
> wonderful people at Princeton, and there was an emphasis on networking both
> among the faculty and the alumni (Princeton is especially proud of the
> Alumni network). Somehow, that academic network was often dysfunctional in
> some deep way, even as it produced lots of papers about research results.
> But, it is still powerful. Part of the dysfunction is perhaps values. Part
> of it is perhaps the scarcity assumption. Part of it is the "disciplined
> minds" aspect Jeff Schmidt talks about that relates to the first two. It
> took me a long time to put all those pieces together:
> Though I remember talking about some of this once at an international
> visitor lunch and one woman, from India perhaps, saying how she was very
> surprised to hear someone at Princeton talking about issues of distributed
> technology or sustainability and so on. Obviously, people in other
> have been talking about this for a long time, including inspired by EF
> Schumacher's work (which I read too).
> If a place like Princeton worked from an abundance assumption, it would be
> very different place, even with just all the same people and same
> I don't know it well anymore (just from occasionally glancing at the alumni
> magazine or interacting with some alumns online), so I can hope it has
> changed. My little effort in that direction, even now:
> But, I feel it will, like the rest of the world is doing, and Princeton
> follow or become irrelevant. At least, I hope it will. It may still take
> more years of unnecessary suffering, but, compared to when I did my stuff
> there, twenty years later there is an "office of sustainability" there now
> and probably in another twenty years there will be an "office of peer
> produced free content promotion". :-)
> But the same is probably true for *any* university in terms of research.
> some have been closer to that in the past (even then, if I had been smarter
> and more social, I could have found one, even on the US East coast, like
> UMass Amherst, or wherever, assuming that even made sense).
> And, as times change, hopefully this very issue becomes more laughable. And
> less meaningful. It hopefully becomes more and more, "Of course
> assume abundance ideology, that's what they are there for, to help create
> abundance of creative thinkers and doers and free ideas and related
> intrinsically mutually secure infrastructure. How could they be anything
> else?" Well, someday...
> We try ideas. We learn. We move on (or try to).
> The biggest issue about my plan above was, as I say on one of those web
> pages, was realizing the difference between having a right as an employee
> (who can be fired at will) and having a right as a citizen. And that's
> really, in its deepest way, where the idea broke down. So, that's why that
> corporate model (even as a non-profit) could never be what I hoped for it.
> The idea there was like a basic income, or really, perhaps more like
> Fourier's Phalanstères, but such an idea is more secure as a right of
> citizenship than a right of being an employee.
> Otherwise, it is just creating a private welfare state, like many unions do
> within one company, or like artists do when they just lobby for arts
> but not a basic income for all.
> Although, there is one difference -- the idea of a free commons of public
> domain information. Even if you were "fired" from such a company, you would
> still have access to all that knowledge. So, there is at least some equity
> there, even in that old idea.
> The core ideas was that a sustainable, secure, and self-replicating
> infrastructure based around public domain knowledge would soon replace the
> unsustainable insecure proprietary and dying infrastructure we had. And,
> slowly, something like that is happening. And it is a beautiful thing to
> see, even among the doom-and-gloom in the mainstream and even alternative
> press. :-) And even if, for the most part, I've just been watching it from
> the sidelines, and making a small contribution here and there (like with
> free garden simulator, such as it is -- we had much higher hopes for new
> versions, etc. that never happened).
> Anyway, I'm glad to see sustainability and peer production all happening,
> even if it is some other way. It is the realization of the best aspiration
> for the university ideal, and the enterprise of science and shared
> publications to a common library. In that sense, the ideas I outlined were
> just a reflection of the best aspirations of the community around me at
> Princeton. And, even if the global physical infrastructure is not
> self-replicating, through the web, in some sense, the ideological
> infrastructure of abundance ideology (and the hope for that best aspiration
> of free universities) has been self-replicating.
> Back then, I did not understand that mythology is as important, if not more
> so, than physical things. So, all the papers people here are writing, and
> linking to, and discussing, are all really important.
> Though, at some point, one wants to interlink those with physical
> infrastructure. But I think it will happen. It is happening. Even without
> yet more grand plans by me like this:
> "Getting Greece and Iceland to be 99% self-sufficient by mass;
> or this:
> "Re: [Open Manufacturing] 21,000 Flexible Public Fabrication Facilities
> across the USA - by IdeaScale"
> These ideas are still being voted down, as I must still be missing
> something, from that last link, replying to my self with an update. :-)
> Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>> I just posted this idea (previously posted to this list) to the USA's
>> opengov site :
>> It's already been voted against twice. :-(
> It's up to voted against nine times (I'm the only positive vote. :-)
> People in New York State pay $20K per student to support a school system
> that turns out human beings who often can't take care of themselves
> materially and often don't even have a basic understanding of the
> their lives depend on. We've spend endless amounts on other things, so
> billion is trivial in comparison (a few months of the Iraq war) for
> something that would empower every person in every location in the USA to
> learn about how to make things and have easy access to the tools they
> to do hobbies or small businesses. I'm really surprised to see just nine
> straight votes against the idea. I have to accept it if people don't like
> the idea, but I remain surprised.
> I'd say maybe it was because the why section was so long and the
> formatting was not preserved, but you can vote on these ideas from the main
> page where you would not even see that section.
> One comment was: "The federal government has screwed up enough things
> So, that may reflect the sentiment that Libertarians and Republicans have
> cultivated for decades. Richard Wolff makes a related point in "Capitalism
> hits the fan" about how the US population has been trained to think
> regulation is a dirty word.
> Anyway, I'm obviously completely clueless about something here. :-)
> So, Michel, I'm hoping for a footnote in some book you write someday. :-)
> But, I'll understand in space is tight and it gets dropped. Even Earth
> itself was only worth: "mostly harmless" as a description of everything
> about it. :-)
> The title derives from a joke early in the series, when Arthur Dent
> discovers that the entry for Earth in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
> consists, in its entirety, of the word "Harmless." His friend Ford Prefect,
> a contributor to the Guide, assures him that the next edition will contain
> the article on Earth that Ford has spent the last 15 years
> researching—somewhat cut due to space restrictions, but still an
> improvement. The revised article, he eventually admits, will simply read
> "Mostly harmless." It later turns out that Ford had written a long essay on
> how to have fun on Earth, but the editors in the guide's main office
> building edited everything out. Later in the series, Ford is surprised to
> discover that all of his contribution had been edited back into the Guide
> (which makes no sense for a seemingly demolished planet) prompting his
> reunion with Arthur on the alternate Earth in So Long, and Thanks for All
> the Fish.
> --Paul Fernhout
> p2presearch mailing list
> p2presearch at listcultures.org
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