Ming the Mechanic:
The Winner takes it All

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 The Winner takes it All2004-10-21 21:45
28 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Selfishness is an intriguing thing. I do believe that all humans, and all lifeforms for that matter, have built-in instincts to try to make their situation better. I.e. they instinctively make choices to improve things for themselves and maybe their companions. When there's a choice, of course you pick the better food source or the better territory, and if there's a way available of arranging things to better accomplish what you're doing, of course you take it. And, surprisingly or not, a well-functioning natural order emerges amongst many diverse individuals who go around trying to make things better for themselves, without any of them having to think much about the overall whole, if at all. In the plant and animal world, that drive helps form self-adjusting and evolving ecosystems. In the human world it becomes the basis for free market economics. If many life units continuously make choices of what they prefer, many things get balanced out, good choices get validated, and resources get distributed by supply and demand.

But there's an additional human quality, which at first glance appears to be just the same thing, but which isn't, and which instead tends towards destroying all such self-organizing checks and balances systems. I'm talking about limitless amplified selfishness, disconnected from personal needs. It is when somebody wants it all, without a regard to what they need, and it is when their will can be amplified by economic or economic machines so that potentially vast resources might be applied to carrying them out.

You know, there's the negotiation technique that starts off with the assumption that you will get 100% of whatever is available. And only if the other parties can make a sufficiently good case, or are able to coerce you by force, will you accept less. Sounds just like a little convenient technique at first, but it also represents a certain principle. What you're asking for, and what you will take, unless hindered, is not directly related to what you need. You want it all of course, just because. Because that's what that particular game is about. Or maybe because you'll then be powerful. Or because you're worried about not getting anything at all. Regardless, that is a new and different principle, different from how the rest of nature works.

If a lion is hungry it will go and hunt down a gazelle or something, and kill it and eat it. If it wasn't all that hungry, it might eat just half of it. But no way is it going to go and kill the whole herd just because it is able to. It is hungry, it eats if it can, and then it lies around in the sun until it gets hungry again. Yes, it is very selfish, but only in relation to covering its needs.

It is when it gets abstract that the game starts changing. I want it all. Not just that I want the biggest house or the biggest steak that I can get. No, I want it all, whatever it might be.

Even if the lion happened to be a little crazy, as far as lions go, and it actually went out and killed a bunch of gazelles just because it was bored, the damage would be relatively slight. It would only be able to manage so many. And somebody else would probably get their dinner based on that, so it isn't entirely wasted.

In our society, structured according to more abstract principles, often hierarchically, very different things are possible. One of us can decide we want something, and we can organize a big organization, like a company, which will have as its sole purpose to do just that. Oh, that isn't easy. Takes various kinds of skill and good connections to put it together. But somebody can do it. You can have a 100 thousand people doing what you want done. If you aim for becoming the head of a nation, like as a government leader, you can aim even higher. You could have a million people doing what you want done.

Now, that is very different from the self-adjusting natural balance free market thing. 100 thousand people trying to fill various needs based on their own choices will form all sorts of checks and balances and self-adjusting mechanisms. But 100 thousand people working for one cause, which isn't their own, and who only receive their rewards to the degree that they carry it out, that's very different. We have not much more than one choice, at the top, and the choices of the individuals making up the lower rungs of the hiearchy are primarily involved just in how best to carry out that choice, setting aside their own instincts and needs to a large extent.

That's a bit like the sorcerer's apprentice. You remember Mickey Mouse making the broom go and get water for him. And the broom splinters, and soon there are hundreds of brooms only filled with one purpose: getting water. You can do a lot of damage when your wish gets amplified many times over, without any self-adjusting mechanism, and when it turns out you didn't quite think it through well enough. If you're just operating by your own power, your mistakes are relatively harmless. If your choices are multiplied thousands or millions of times over, your mistakes can be devastatingly destructive.

Now, put these things together. You can decide what you want, based on purely abstract reasoning, and you can decide you want it all, 100%. And you can line up colossal resources in that direction. Vast amounts of materiel. Huge numbers of people. Communication channels that broadcast and magnify your message, your wish. Economic engines that amplify your resources many times over, and makes many more people contribute to them, whether they're aware of it or not.

And when you then get what you're asking for, or most of it, another major departure from nature's order is apparent. You don't really have to share it. It is yours. And if you actually don't need it, you can just leave it around, applying some of the previously mentioned resources on making sure nobody else uses it for anything they need. Take it out of circulation and put a fence around it. It is yours, after all.

And it is not just that somebody cleverly managed to do so. It goes further than that. Another level. People who wanted to do that have actually managed to make it THE system on most of the planet. They've made it the law. You'll be prosecuted, penalized or jailed if you resist in any other way than through the same system they're using. And they've made it THE economic system. The whole economic machinery and the printing and generation of money is designed to make just that happen, and to make alternatives unviable.

What makes it seem less horrific at first glance is that there are many people who try to play that game. A small percentage of the Earth's population, but quite a few nevertheless. And a very small percentage of them seriously succeed. But there are still several of them, so we don't see their wishes quite carried to their final conclusion. Unless in those cases where those guys work together towards unified aims. Then, if you find yourself able to look, you might suddenly realize that a very small number of people own and control most of what's worth owning and controlling on the planet, and they've already long ago set it up so that resistance is futile, and it is both illegal and immoral and unprofitable to object.

It is what sometimes would be called black witchcraft, black magick. It is when somebody selfishly establishes what THEY want, their will, and they have the knowledge and the skill to activate the forces that will make it happen, and they do so, without regard to what is is good, needed, harmonious or sustainable. That's the part that makes it black. White magick would be that you bring forces into motion that makes things better for everybody concerned. The black variety is that one agent puts every available weapon in the arsenal into play to accomplish their will, with no regard as to what everybody else might need or want or like. Everybody else is but a piece in the play, and will only be consulted or informed to the degree that their willful cooperation accomplishes the selfish will faster.

The puzzling thing, and the part that is difficult to overcome, is that this approach quite easily wins over the competition. I.e. a few willful individuals who will stop at nothing to take what they want, and who have the skill to engage multiple levels of amplification and manipulation to get there, will easily outcompete much larger numbers of individuals who just are bumbling around, going around their business, trying to fill their own needs, trying to be nice to the people around them, trying to acquire the best means of survival.

This principle of selfish single-minded anti-social organization has for a while out-competed the alternatives. When it meets societies organized in older ways, it wins. The American Indians didn't have a chance. Made no sense to them that somebody wanted to own the earth and that their solemnly given word meant nothing. Not that they themselves were angels. However fierce warriors they were, they were no match for detached, organized, hierarchical, leveraged selfishness.

The pyramids wouldn't have been built by small cooperative tribes. Stonehenge maybe, but not gigantic structures requiring 10s of thousands of people to work for many years to create burial places for a few people. Could only have happened by anti-social rulers forcing large numbers of people to do things that have nothing to do with their own needs or wishes or choices.

It is an evolutionary development, really. It is a new principle which is more efficient, more able to win and outcompete the old approaches. It operates at a higher order, leveraging energies to greater advantage. It is a directed scheme that outguns lower level self-organization. Doesn't meant it is good and right. Just that it wins against small groups that are based on meeting needs, and that adhere to principles such as honor and the value of good work. They don't have a chance.

But that is also the way forward. The principle can be outcompeted by something better. Not by complaining about the moral faults in the scheme. No, it would be outrun by a system that would be even better at making things happen.

It is not very hard to figure out that widespread sufficiently well-connected and well-organized cooperation could outcompete leveraged corporate ventures. It doesn't yet, but it is obvious that it could. And that it very well might, some time rather soon.

A handful of people making plans and tricking and coercing large numbers of people to follow them, against their own best interests - that might win over small cooperative groups, just by the sheer magnitude and resources involved and the cleverness of the scheme. But it is bureaucratic and inefficient, and the true capabilities of most of the people involved are badly utilized. Enormous amounts of resources are wasted. Compare that with large nubers of people who are well networked, well informed, who are cooperating. Who all are doing the things they want to do, and who're free to act appropriately on the information they have. Potentially much vaster collective intelligence and combined power than the hierarchical corporate entity.

Sofar only potentially, though. Lots of people can see it, and smell it coming. But it isn't there yet. Putting millions of people in potential contact with each other isn't enough. Loads and loads of information isn't enough either. The neural network between them needs to be woven tightly enough. Systems need to be in place that are tuned well enough. There needs to be sufficient bandwidth between these people. There needs to be sufficiently sofisticated tools to show them what is going on, what is needed, what do we know, who's here, who wants to do what.

But once it really happens, the battle will be over quickly. The old dinosaurs will be slow and dumb and nobody will feel like feeding them anymore. Millions of minds thinking together will be so much smarter than a few hundred. Millions of people doing what they see needs to be done will accomplish much more than a few hundred doing what serves themselves. A fast moving, coordinated, pragmatic network will be orders of magnitude more effective than a slow moving ideological hierarchy.

When given the chance, most people will choose the options that do what they think is needed, that fulfill their needs, that improve their environment, as far as they pratically can see it, and that are fulfilling to be part of. Of course. So, if lots of people can SEE more clearly, they can make different choices. And if it is practical and obvious that one can cooperate effectively with as many people as necessary, scaled to any level, and that one can leverage one's own activities with the combined power of all these people, it is a no-brainer. Goodbye to wasting your life supporting anti-socials doing things that nobody really wants. Hello to doing what you're really here for.

The means are still missing. But once enough of them become available, there's no going back.

The imperialistic, corporate, capitalist, industrial approach outcompeted the tribal, territorial, earth-bound approach based on math. It used to be a linear progression. You have twice as much land, you can get twice as much food. Twice as many wives, you can have twice as many children. Do twice as much work and you get twice as much benefit. Twice as many members of the tribe, and you can beat a twice as big enemy.

That got out-competed by an exponential progression of returns. Like compounding interest. You not only get more back than you put out, if you're the guy in the right place, you get more and more back, the more loops you can add to the game. And the more you get, and the more cycles you go through, the more you'll be able to get.

Now, if my math doesn't fail me, a well-functioning cooperative network also adds up to an exponential rate of return. But in a different way, which doesn't depend on repeated cycles over time. The more people participate, the more possible connections and opportunities there are. Not linearly, not quadratically, but the number of participants will be in the exponent. Right away. Capabilities and change to the Nth degree. Without a need for time to make it work.

So, say there's something you see that ought to happen. You could just start working hard on it yourself. Or you could leverage your saved energy by investing it and getting others to work, and tapping the result down the line, after a number of cycles. Or you could right now connect up with the collective resources of everybody else on the planet, and instantly engage in effective cooperative action with anybody else who is willing to make that happen. What do think will be most effective?

Global cooperation of the informed and connected many will win over global exploitation by the informed and connected few of the uninformed and unconnected many, which won over local cooperation by small connected communities, which earlier won over unconnected individuals working alone.

Sometime soon. Because it will get me what I need and want, better. And I will have a choice. Better yet, I will have many choices.


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28 comments

21 Oct 2004 @ 22:07 by craiglang : Lion analogy
I like your analogy to the lion killing and eating when he/she gets hungry. But what would happen if the lion were to evolve opposable thumbs and technological intelligence. Would they have large Gazelle roundups, etc... ?

Would a lion develop a hearding machine? Would a lion civilization eventually develop shrink-wrapped "Big-Leo"s - maybe pre-fabbed Gazelle meat with lots of non-natural addatives? Would there be LionMarts which would sell lots of kewl amenities for adolescent and youn teen-age lions? And what would happen if the lion civilization got too big, and started depleting the herds? You get the picture... :-)

Interesting what-if's to think about as I work on the next version of the software in our lab - which is about as far from nature as you can get... :-)  



21 Oct 2004 @ 22:26 by b : This is an excellent essay Ming
I am going to think about it some more.  


21 Oct 2004 @ 22:51 by ming : Lions
In nature, let's say the lion suddenly was capable of catching and killing gazelles much more easily, by discovering they could hypnotize them to stand still with a mean stare or something ... well, in the first place it would just mean that lions had to break out into much less of a sweat to eat. But then it would probably mean that the lion population would grow, or the gazelle population would be wiped out. And some kind of adjustment would take place. The lions would degenerate again because there were no gazelles, or something else would pop up that would eat lions, since there were now so many of them. One way or another it would sort itself out. If lions remain lions, with lion instincts, that is.

But if they suddenly started getting abstract and they agreed that gazelles in principle had to be killed and eaten and all lions had to be fed, whether they were able to catch anything or not, AND they then proceeded to organize a society around that, that's when the potential trouble would start. No cubs left behind. Gazelle commodity futures. McGazelle super value meals.  



22 Oct 2004 @ 06:19 by shawa : *
Isn´t it crazy to think how easy it would really be to overthrow the "black hawks" ? Damn! Where is that holy grail of interconnectedness¡¡¡  


22 Oct 2004 @ 10:58 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : share and translate
Lots of people are working on that interconnectedness thing. As I see it, there's a sort of frenzy about it: will we make things happen in time? How can we reinforce the loops of developement? By sharing, of course. Sharing what we know, what we do, what we care about.

And also by translating. This Ming piece deserves being translated into a few languages. We need cooperative translating - or at least translating of some kind. And linking, lots of it.

There's also the "framing belief". Currently I believe that change can happen, so I see things that confirm that belief.

Now, the tricky part, how can we convince pesimists? Is there a "path of conversion" just like when people quit smoking? When people quit smoking (a brain habit after all), they go through stages: "I don't want to quit", "I would like to quit but it's imposible", "it would be difficult", "I'm making it", "now I feel better but am afraid of recurrence" ... Is it the same when people free themselves from victimism?  



22 Oct 2004 @ 11:36 by ming : Pessimists
I guess that pessimists will have to be convinced in a very tangible "objective" way. I.e. not by arguments or facts or good ideas, but by putting something in their hand that obviously works better.

If somebody had been a nay-sayer on the subject of cell phones, they obviously wouldn't choose to become an engineer developing them, figuring out how to make them cheap and small and ubiquitous. They wouldn't have helped carry out such a vision. But once they're there, and you can go get one for a dollar, and your life gets a good deal easier from it, they're not going to say no. They'll see that everybody else has them, and they'll eventually get one too, and probably end up liking it.

So, it isn't necessary that everybody adopts certain ideas in advance. I rather see it as that enough people need to work together on making something better, and then everybody will adopt it, no matter what their previous position was, simply because it works better.  



22 Oct 2004 @ 12:35 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : next question
So, what does work better now? Is it a matter of finding out, joining in, and telling everyone else?

This reminds me a lot of Daniel Quinn's "Beyond Civilization".

Thing is, this is not like buying a cell phone. It's more like changing one's own habits, the people one hangs out with, and the thinking (aka perception of life).

Or is it not?

I mean, what's it like to be over there?  



22 Oct 2004 @ 12:42 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : next question 2
or is it "over here"?

I can't consider myself to be living "over there". What would I change or want to see changed? Deep question for the week end!

I'll define "fun", I guess.  



22 Oct 2004 @ 13:46 by ming : Sharing
Well, finding out, and telling others, that's a good thing. And, yes, gradually different ideas can creep into the mass consciousness. But I've also learned to be, maybe not cynical, but pragmatic at least. Rather few people are prepared to change their lifestyle based merely on good ideas and sound arguments. Ideas alone don't quite compete with the inertia of what most people do, or with what is the most practical path of least resistence.

Like, I believe society should be sustainable and harmonious with the environment, and I can say a lot of things about that. But if I go to some expo or something, and in the cafeteria they hand me out, like, half a pound of styrofoam, plastic, glass, aluminum, etc., to hold my lunch for 5 minutes while I carry it over to a table, after which it all gets thrown in the trash - do I complain, revolt, refuse? A few people do, and I admire them for that. I'd probably take what I got and put up with it, but quietly plotting to think of something better. Yes, if enough people refused such waste, the system would have to change. But most of even very well-intended people will not really walk the steps of a new trend before it already has a bit of momentum. That's a catch-22 in any new movement that is based on ideas.

On the other hand, if there were two choices of packaging available in the cafeteria, I'd of course choose the one that wastes the fewest materials. Or if I personally could have some cool device or approach I could carry with me that accomplished the same thing, I'd use it, even if nobody else did. I'd happily be the first guy who has his lunch wrapped in anti-gravity force fields, no matter who stares in disbelief. But I hesitate to be the only guy who raises my voice to insist that they repackage my food in only bio-degradable materials, and who'll hold up the line until they do so or they have security throw me out.  



22 Oct 2004 @ 22:39 by ov : curmudgeon's advocate
Whatever system you eventually come up with it should be able to operate without technology. Ohhh, burn the blasphemor you say, but realize that when the web goes down your tech won't be worth squat, the only thing that will matter is what is in your head, and if this is going to be congruent enough with the crowd you want to influence then it better be in a story line that could be told around the fire. Plan it out now while you have the chance but don't base the plan on dependence on technology. Compose the mythologies of tomorrow while you still have the chance.

On a more pragmatic note, like the pyramid of Egypt was used to emergently create the hierarchy and beaurocractic division of labour, or the irrigation circles of China documented by Weber's hydraulic management, any system that you create, that is too complex for any one mind to centralize, will require a large engineering project by which the completed construction will suffice as the reality test. Good candidates are peak oil, and the economy that will be required as the operating system to coordinate a society without oil. Don't worry about people changing their lifestyles voluntarily, when the power goes out they will discover very quickly that changing their lifestyle isn't really an option, there only options are going to be adapt or die. Heh, it's hard love, but it has always worked in the past to get through these periods of punctuated evolution.  



22 Oct 2004 @ 23:52 by ming : Global changes
The thing is that some of these changes can only work if large numbers of people are interconnected. That either requires some technological connectivity like we see emerging on the Net, or it requires an evolutionary leap in our species. If we suddenly and unexpectedly started developing telepathy and the ability to teleport things, oh, that would be much better than some Internet software.

But if none of those things happen, and our technological civilization breaks down and we're back around the camp fire, then we can forget about the global cooperation of a higher order. Then we ought to focus on a tribal arrangement, including cooperation between tribes, and we should try hard to avoid degenerating into general war and violence.

So, yes, unfortunately I do think that either technology or an evolutionary miracle are vital components of this kind of plan. I think the way forward IS a global arrangement that will work for and serve all of us most of the time. That's not gonna happen without easy communication and movement of goods over long distances.

And, yes, the test is whether we can carry out large engineering types of projects. How do you build a huge dam without one corporation acquiring the funds and controlling a hierarchy of people who will slave away at it, rather than doing whatever else they feel like. The test is whether we can come up with ways to organize that that can happen cooperatively amongst free people, as opposed to corporately, using workers tied into a feudal system.

We know that small teams of motivated people can work, and that they might both do what they want and cooperate for common aims. But the hard part is coming up with large scale ventures with the same qualities. Individual freedom and self-generated motivation, as well as a unified purpose and focus.  



23 Oct 2004 @ 00:26 by ov : dodging the dichotomy
I disagree on there being only two options, one a technological fix or an evolutionary leap in the species. So it's either high tech, or magic is it? Well lets be reasonable and dismiss the magic and that means it either hi tech or we're all doomed. Bullshit. There are more than two alternatives and some of those third alternatives involve a coordination through the oral narrative plot, through the cultural mythology that defines its identity, or more simply put through stories that are known by all. This is a technique that goes back tens of thousands of years. This aspect of cultural integration was the blind spot of the digiradi that I was pointing out in my previous comment.

I'd also say that one of our main problems in modernity is this believe in trade and the necessity of shipping large volumes of material across vast distances. The Baroque Cycle of Stephenson waxes on and on about the glories of this, and I realize it is a sacred concept of the enlightenment mindset, which is why I'm bringing it up.

I'd say the reality test of the huge engineering project is establishing a common vision, and then creating an emperical object for which common consensus agrees fits the objective of the initial vision. Didn't get much more basic then this with the pyramid, and the chinese irrigation system was more complex but there was physical confirmation that it worked. The network project on the other hand will be more difficult.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy. And I do agree with your last paragraph. The point of the curmudgeon advocate, possibly incomprehensible to the digirati, is that the technology needs to play second fiddle to the no tech of the story. The prehistorical phase of the evolution of universal consciousness will once again need to run the show.  



23 Oct 2004 @ 02:15 by ming : Stories
Yes, it is about writing or evolving another story. Or dreaming another dream. It is not about that technology will somehow save us and do it for us. But the means we have available will to a large degree determine the scale and the nature of the game we'll play. A sizable civilization could be run with very low-tech means. But the question is whether it can be a cooperative civilization. It can be a hierarchical empire, run by force, in part because that's a system that works even when communication amongst many people is slow and difficult. The transaction costs are too high in the alternatives. It is not just a matter of whether people have the wrong mythology. It is not very practical for millions of people to all work effectively together in a network format if it takes days or weeks to get a message from one end of the society to the other. Very difficult to engage in the dialogue necessary to arrive at consensus, and impossible to do so dynamically, several times a day. The hierarchical model will remain the most effective, because it isn't dependent on such dialogue and flexibility.

My point is one of different systems being more or less effective in making things happen. The stories we tell ourselves about them must have some approximate relation to the systems that are available and that work.

Of course that doesn't stop the stories from developing first, and the necessary means being brought into existence later. Which is to some degree what is happening here.

As an example, let's say we developed the story of a galactic civilization, with all planets and all species cooperating in harmony. That would be a very nice thing in itself. But it will remain a little flimsy unless we develop some mode of transportation, so that we can go and actually meet each other, and cooperate on something. Or, alternatively, that we develop some kind of telepathic or instinctive sense of each other. If it is merely a story, however pretty, but we aren't in touch with anybody else at all, it doesn't quite come to fruition. It is the same thing within our own planet. A story of global unity or global cooperation will sooner or later require means of staying in touch with each other.  



23 Oct 2004 @ 04:56 by ov : Control
Monopoly is just another word for centralized control, a heirarchy is a chain of command between the many and the few, the former are forced to work to build up the size, faster is better in defiance of the test of time, the matter accumulates and we call it civilized, the top of the pyramid, the center of the wheel, the Highlander creed that there can be only one, is it any wonder when heads roll the overhead's so high? Patriarchal power denying the miss story of eternity.

So in plainer engish I'm questioning your assumption that we need heirarchy, that everything needs to be done at an ever faster rate, and that we need to have a unified consensus. Above all I'm questioning the implied assumption that there needs to be a boss at the top and why decisions can't originate at the bottom. Perhaps most of all I'm questioning the foundations of civilization, which is the primacy of control and the subordination of creative flow.

At the risk of being isolationist, can we keep this to planet Earth for now on the assumption that any species from another planet that is able to get here will have a few ideas we can evaluate, and perhaps save ourselves the trouble of reinventing the wheel.  



23 Oct 2004 @ 16:47 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : low-tech revolution
Just for a moment, let's think we can make it happen with the available technology or even less technology. Let's imagine it did happen. Now, *how* did it happen?

We need a couple of science-fiction writers. Or a couple hundred!

There was this "after the crash" idea to write "how did we all survive" in 200 words.

Let's have and share our low-tech dreams. Maybe we can use some of that stuff for our high-tech world ... or is it a mixed-tech world? I suggest: let's BUILD a dream, a script, together. I'm not saying "it would be good if we did" - I'm saying: let's write it up in a wiki, together with assumptions and challenging of assumptions and all. It must look real. How about a week?

Maybe "words" are high-tech enough?  



23 Oct 2004 @ 17:44 by ov : Integration vs Monopoly
and how these relate to control and coordination. That keeps us on topic I think, and at the same time it looks like there might be a discussion starting up on this little alcove in the big room, and that metaphor is influenced by a radio program I heard last night by {link:www.patternlanguage.com/leveltwo/ca.htm|Christopher Alexander} on architecture and designing public places using pattern language, but I think there is a parallel to virtual places as well.

{link:copensar.blogalia.com/|Lugon} (are you copensar, your header link above is obsolete, and I'll edit this out if you request) I like your idea about needing more translators because stories to a certain extent are predetermined by the language in which they are written. Copensar is in Spanish? I'm handicapped by only knowing English.

{link:www.openspaceworld.org|OpenSpaceWorld.org} was linked from Copensar and that is an excellent form of low-technology which involves words and little else. {link:www.maxthink.biz|MaxThink} is a high level outliner, and outliners are totally heirarchal, but regardless, I have a fondness for them stretching back a couple of decades, nice to see they are still evolving and it made my day to discover this link. This brings back into memory an article of Douglas Engelbart on "A Conceptual Framework for the Augmentation of Man's Intellect" which describes the H-LAM/T system (Human using Language, Artifacts, and Methodology, in which he is Trained). Tangents all over the place here, and these while not all being lo-tech, or at least old tech in terms of computer evolution and I think that is mainly because they concern the abstract concepts rather that the arbitrarily determined technical details.

Recently I've come across an interesting intersection of story-telling, technology and major root cause issues. {link:www.metaweb.com|MetaWeb.com} is a wiki created to discuss Neal Stephenson's new trilogy "The Barogue Cycle" which is all about the foundations of the international banking system and how trade in fiat currency is the lubricant of trade. Main page defines it as an experiment in progress. I see it as a multi-player virtual world to explore the monetary operating system of the world. I haven't written anything for it yet, still only read the first two novels in the trilogy, but I see a wealth of possiblities, all of which are related to the dispersed story creation of what runs the world, just to bring this back on topic. Lugon, what do you think of the idea of piggy backing your idea onto the MetaWeb?  



23 Oct 2004 @ 17:45 by ming : Control
Ov, what I'm aiming at is exactly that we don't need hierarchy, we don't need a boss, we don't need centralization, and we don't need to all agree, and decisions are probably better if they start at the bottom. And that there are many decisions, many right things to do, and no need to all do the same thing. For that matter, that I think it will be more efficient as well as more fulfilling and harmonious when we figure out how.

But then it is also that I notice that we don't have it, and that hierarchies and control and one decision for all is what is in the lead right now. Not what I want or prefer, but it is what is there.

And, yes, having a bottom-up networked civilization of free people isn't necessarily dependent on anything. We could have that now. We could have had that 2000 years ago. If we had the right attitude to it.

But, pragmatically, getting there from here, I'm looking at the most likely ways of getting there. The approach that I think has the most potential is to out-compete the centralized hierarchy.

Let's not wait for that, though. Yes, let's dream and make stories. A wiki would be good, if the core theme of such an endeavor can be clear.

Some years ago I wrote up my own vision for a different society, which I called {link:http://www.holoworld.org/|HoloWorld}. Which, incidentally, isn't dependent on any particular technology, but merely on some different assumptions for society.  



23 Oct 2004 @ 18:20 by ov : Parallel thoughts
Something like this is too complex for this or that thinking, 'and' might be a big improvement, perhaps in dividing the essential from the luxury, but then once again how to do that. I've been coming across the concept of interlayering of chaos and order, dynamic exchange contained by a fixed common reference and this container in turn being part of a dynamic exchange bounded by a higer level in the hierarchy, kind of fractal like, or perhaps being time bound with a periodic and punctuated evolution of the fixed component. Anway just a few minutes ago I stumbled upon this article on {link:www.smithweaversmith.com/knowledg1.htm|Kowledge Annealing} by Denham Grey.

I haven't seen the holoworld before. Liked the list of recommended books. Notice that Christopher Alexander from my previous comment was on your list.

Ming, what do you think of the idea of making a collaborative influence on Stephenson's wiki? I mean discuss a key point, write up an article here, then review and rehash, and then publish it on his site. The NCN Juncto pays a visit and goes for Baroque, to pardon the pun.  



24 Oct 2004 @ 09:13 by lugon @80.58.19.44 : food for thought
www.vimoutliner.org copensar.blogalia.com cothinkhealth.blogalia.com mblog.com/cothink www.ms.lt www.primarilypublicdomain.org
i'm in a hurry but will read/write more tonight/tomorrow yes let's keep it up  



25 Oct 2004 @ 02:51 by ov : Happy to meet you Lugon
and an interesting collections of links in that last post of yours.

Just a few hours ago I came across this article on {link:www.hubbertpeak.com/whatToDo/DeindustrialAge.htm|Communities of Survival} (about half way down the page), and it seems to think that we have been given warnings for decades now and that we've squandered the time and now we should focus on surviving rather than deluding ourselves that we will be able to make a smooth transition into the new civilization. Before we scoff off the tribal approach, we should look at preparing for it before we run out of time for that as well. Tribal is quite contrary to monopoly. Thing is, that tribal communities can still preserve the technology and even develop new technology over time. Road warrior survivalists on the other hand are pretty much screwed as soon as the ancient can goods have all been salvaged.  



25 Oct 2004 @ 08:00 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : handbooks after internet
Communities of survival - yes we need paper books on how to grow things to eat. Just in case the internet fails.

We'll also need some emotional intelligence, I guess.

And water.

There's not ONE future, so we have to plan for a handful of them.

Re "tribal" - http://www.ishmael.org (of course).

Is there any other direction we should be looking at?  



25 Oct 2004 @ 08:06 by lugon @195.53.174.18 : more links and spaghetti
http://www.openideaproject.org
http://www.shouldexist.org

And yes, outlines are a tool to make "operational sense" of an immensely complex world. Just like using a fork to eat your spaghetti. And yes, other people will not like using a fork like yours and will prefer their hands or some other tool. Fine with me, as long as we have the meta-tool of being able to see that the tools are tools and we might want to change them at some point in time.

btw, open space has a "Brief User Guide" (bug!) which should be translated to every language - and *printed* and used, even if just for fun, in schools or with friends to organise a party. I've seen it in Spanish.  



25 Oct 2004 @ 10:12 by WOLves @66.151.149.25 : Too Much Reality?
[{link:http://wolves.typepad.com/wolves/2004/10/too_much_realit.html|trackback}]: Jay Rosen ponders: What I really wanted to say to the BBC guy was: There's too much reality rushing over us every day just now. And it's pushing me to the limits of my own vocabulary. Can anyone help? Do you even know what I'm talking about? Hit the co...  


31 Oct 2004 @ 12:11 by dollyknot @82.3.32.71 : Possible answer
Excellent essay Ming. I have written a kind of weird rationale for the hyper-selfishness you describe, evidenced by the behaviour of Paul Allen in funding Bert Rutan with Space Ship One. To forgive some of these hyper-selfish individual human beings, maybe needs the realisation that our species is hyper-selfish as a whole, If you don't believe me, just go out and count the populations of the five other species of great ape we share? the planet with, being Orangutan, Gibbon, Gorilla, Chimpanzee and Bonobo. The only way out is up!

Regards,

Peter.  



31 Oct 2004 @ 12:18 by dollyknot @82.3.32.71 : mangled URL
Your form mangled my url :)

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/peter.turland/nonlinear/HELLO.html

Peter  



7 Nov 2004 @ 04:57 by inkheart @67.70.150.38 : lovely.
insightful little treatise. it's refreshing to see anarchy given a mature treatment such as this. consider yourself bookmarked.  


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