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Rene Daalder
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Jan 18, 2007
Uplinks: 0, Generation 1

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    SC (the emergence of)
    In a recent post by Connor, who is one of several recent SpaceCollective members whose contributions continue to raise the bar here, he wonders if the emergent nature of SC’s future vision might be strong enough to overcome the economic system’s detrimental impact on the natural environment and innovation.

    Image from The Bridge Project, by Elif Ayiter

    Polytopian visionary Wildcat responds that this economic system is based on an “outdated (Neolithic) manner of organizing and distributing resources,” and announces that this “era of lack” will be replaced by an “era of abundance once the impending nano/biotech singularity is in place.” As a hardcore futurist, he adds that the direction implied by “beautiful projects as SpaceCollective and Polytopia” are so removed from the present economic system that in terms of future philosophy at least there seems to be no reason to discuss it, banking instead on the fact that no force is stronger than “an idea whose time has arrived.”

    Quixotic Meganmay contributes the optimistic thought that, coincidentally with the impending crises we are facing, the human brain may have evolved to the point where we can “comprehend the complex socio-economic networks we’ve built up just in time to consider rearranging them.”

    Diligent as always, Sjef is keeping one foot on the ground as he states his belief that a collapse is almost inevitable and may well have dystopian consequences, unless “the void will be filled by a plan that is ready for implementation and someone is in the position to present it through the right channels at the right time.” He doubts that our ideas, locked up in SC’s “circle of a few thousand minds” will be up to the task: “Having a clear view of the future to be created is certainly necessary, but so is having an idea of how to get there in order to push in that direction.”

    Even though he forgets to mention that SpaceCollective reaches hundreds of thousands people beyond the 2000 active minds that have so far been invited to partake in this experiment, it cannot be denied that this is still a marginal outpost of thought in the global scheme of things, which begs the question how important our collective efforts really are.

    In the context of the present environmental and economic turmoil, thinking about the future becomes increasingly meaningful, but in the world at large the necessary foresight and intelligence appears to be in short supply. Stalwart SC member dmitridb blames this on the “very learning institutions supposedly meant to foster thinking,” and I wholeheartedly agree with his statement. To my knowledge, there is no faculty anywhere in the academic world which specifically addresses the future. In fact, the very subject tends to be dismissed as a legitimate topic for lack of empirical validation. Scientists at least are consistently pushing the envelope of their respective disciplines, but the Humanities are firmly entrenched in a canon-based tradition that is thoroughly out of step with the moving target that is our future. Everything concerning the world that lies ahead is routinely relegated to the realm of science-fiction, leaving it up to individual forward thinkers to make up for this wholesale denial of one of the most critically important subjects of our lives.

    Nobody on this site understands the mandate to articulate the Humanities of the Future better than Spaceweaver, who weighs in on Connor’s post with one of his finely calibrated arguments, offering that “the future of human civilization is embedded in an ever increasing complexity,” and therefore our best bet may be “to figure out how to bring about a collective consciousness that will become an open-ended platform for growth and transformation.”

    In conjunction with Connor’s post, a contribution of dimitridb from 2007 about “wealth as a system of abstracting worth” is revived, bringing Sjef, Connor and Spaceweaver together again. They cross-reference the recent post by Connor, who once more tries to take the conversation to a level of “doing something,” and is reminded yet again by Spaceweaver how questionable it is that we “we can transform or replace our economical system whithout undergoing a very deep and all encompassing transformation regarding the human phenomenon and life at large.” In turn, dimitridb ends his response to their comments by posing the question:

    “how exactly can we imminently actualize this very deep and all-encompassing conceptual transformation (…) before the snowball effect towards total hell becomes too strong for us to do anything at all?”

    One possible answer to his question could be to develop critical mass for such a transformation by mobilizing the learning institutions he berates in his earlier comment.
    If only we could introduce this predisposed segment of the population to a mind set that promotes an intuitive understanding of the complexity Spaceweaver refers to, we might have a better chance to accelerate such a complex future into being. Although earlier attempts to reach out to universities involved such highly respected institutions as UCLA, Vienna’s school for the Applied Arts, SciARC, Columbia University, even Yale, and were conducted by stellar faculty, few of the courses truly reciprocated by engaging with the forward thinking that is featured on this site. In large part this may have been due to the fact that in most instances the curriculum for these classes wasn’t initiated by SC but by faculty whose academic mandate does not include future studies.

    The other day notthisbody (who is another welcome new voice here) turned me on to an interesting article about rhizomatic learning by Dave Cormier, in which the author states that in the rhizomatic model, “curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself (…). The community is not the path to understanding or accessing the curriculum; rather the community is the curriculum.”

    I like to think that we are such a community, creating a curriculum for the future, while picking up the slack from institutions, academic, political or otherwise, which are infinitely more powerful, yet singularly incapable of moving the world forward.

    I share Wildcat’s and Meganmay’s opinion that we shouldn’t waste time here on immediate political problems or temporary fixes, but focus on emergent solutions. Although there are interesting lessons to be learned about the world’s interconnectivity from the present economic collapse, it appears to be of a transient nature rather than the deep and all encompassing transformation typically envisioned by our collective.

    Just as I was writing this, another great entry was submitted by AlanSmith, whose earlier post Nationhood: The future of nationalism proposed a future in which the “importance of geography will be matched by the importance of values and ideas.” Expounding on this idea, his recent gorgeously illustrated post, proposes that

    time will be the new Money. More accurately, your time, and other peoples time, are a new form of currency. We all have the same amount, every day. Whether we are rich or poor in dollars, we are all equal in time. (…) This scaffolding for a new system will be called the Ecommony, and it's measurement will be Commoncy. It will measure what you can do, and what you need done. Everything becomes shared, except our own personal time which will be the basis of the new Ecommony. Commoncy will measure how individuals spend their time to contribute to the commons of human progress. Ecommonics will be the study of how people contribute most meaningfully to this commons.

    There’s more to it besides the above quote, not to mention the author’s great illustrations which serve as powerful contributions to the curriculum for the future we are jointly conceiving here, as each of us is accruing Commoncy and generating wealth for the new Ecommony.

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    connor     Thu, Nov 6, 2008  Permanent link
    few of the courses truly reciprocated by engaging with the forward thinking that is featured on this site. In large part this may have been due to the fact that in most instances the curriculum for these classes wasn’t initiated by SC but by faculty whose academic mandate does not include future studies.

    To take this a step further, I would argue that it has little to do with the individuals involved or the curriculum, but system itself. I agree with you and also like to think of SC as a rhizomatic curriculum. I think that it will be very hard to inject these ideologies into the institutionalized learning centre. The problem is that the objective of SC is evolving thought and ideas, whereas the institution is interested in the ends; that most important piece of paper that gives you value.

    People agreeing to experiment with SC, embedded it in their institutionalized learning process, will only see it as a project that once completed, will take them one step closer to their next phase in life. What I would love to see, is people recognize value for contributions. The only value that an individual should have should be measured by the things that they have done.

    RE: Ecommony, I really like the direction that Alan Smith is going. As Spaceweaver points out, there are further considerations to be made, but that is what this community is for.

    As you mention, we shouldn't waste time on temporary fixes, but I do think that it is important for us to not only think of a map with a fluid destination but also the paths that we can travel.
    rene     Sat, Nov 8, 2008  Permanent link
    I completely agree. The irony is that here at SpaceCollective we are very active as doers and makers, working in different media and on several projects at once, ranging from writing and lectures to art and design and making movies. All of these media are perfectly capable to effect influence on some level or another, as is SC itself with its exceptional thinkers and a million unique visitors since its inception. Still, like yourself, we are wondering on a regular basis how to make the theoretical activities on this site more actionable. Right now I'm pretty fond of the concept of curriculum creation and there are many other ideas floating around to establish an effective connection with the world at large. We are even making a scifi documentary related to SpaceCollective we'll soon announce more about. Yet at the same time I've come to terms with the conceptual nature of some of the great projects here which have a very real function that happens to be best served in the form of written articles which are theoretical by virtue of their speculative nature. Most future-directed projects emerge from different ideas such as the ones that are articulated here, which congeal over time, hinting at their ultimate outcome far before we can even guess at a timeline for their realization, leave alone public recognition. The truth is that one is a futurist at one’s own peril. No matter how often we refer to the accelerated evolution inferred by phenomena like the Singularity etc, the amount of lag time even the most critically important ideas are faced with in this society never ceases to amaze. Often the best ideas have to be willed into existence by nudging things along until they establish some kind of critical mass, and in that respect we can play a proactive role, just by continuing to promote ideas like Wildcat’s Polytopia, AlanSmith’s Ecommony, First Dark’s language project, Spaceweaver’s Immortality thread, etc. Or try out whatever other ideas might fly in this finely calibrated community that keeps us tuned to the zeitgeist.
    Wildcat     Sun, Nov 9, 2008  Permanent link
    @ Connor :"What I would love to see, is people recognize value for contributions. "

    Of course, but value for contribution demands a metric system of evaluation, the metrics in turn, create the hierarchy of the system, and back to the old school of thought we go...

    "The only value that an individual should have should be measured by the things that they have done."

    And again I need object here to the words used, namely " only" and "should", if we use these terms we revert to the forceful application of a metric system that may or may not be accepted by a variety of humans for diverse reasons which are at present inconsequential. The fact that we desire to offer a new array of possibilities to the world at large is in itself an antidote to the measurement devices we have created. said measurement devices be they for intelligence, adaptability or indeed "value based on what they have done" are possibly the main reason we have found ourselves in such a divided world.
    I offer to you the idea that a polytopia is inherently open for interpretation by the individual in question allowing for the synergy of multiple value/reward systems. such a synergy as I envision for a polytopia will allow an open ended realization of value, without the stress involved in 'measuring up'.

    @ Rene: "The truth is that one is a futurist at one’s own peril"

    True, yet the whole point in extracting projections out of the phase space of infinite possibilities is to apply our aesthetics senses and reasoning capabilities for the making of a possibility into a probability and a probability into an actuality. The process of engendering a reality out of a probable future is fundamentally one of (relatively) slow adaptation to an inevitability of perception and mindfulness, given this situation we are in fact as specie, all of us, natural futurists.
    So, in a sense we are all at the peril of our own futurist thought, if we accept the case that conscious awareness is fundamentally and inherently interconnected (and currently becoming hyperconnected), we need allow for multiple paths of evolution to occur simultaneously, these paths in turn will reveal themselves in due time, what is critical however is to allow for the openness to unfold.
    come to think of it, maybe the 'real' peril is to deny our futurist orientation as humans.

    As a rule I believe that there are different functions in a culture, how much more in an open ended transcultural polytopia. Some minds characterize their function by simply being,others by action, others yet by parsing thoughts, some of us need an immediate expression, others are silent participants, some are advocators, and some transform by observation, be that as it may, the whole point of allowing a multiple and diverse culture to emerge is the reality that each of these modes of existence adds its value by the sole fact of having a particular character, SC is just such a community, hence its attractiveness and appeal.

    As SC evolves, the unique ingredients of its conscious aware intelligent participants, add to the mix, becoming an influential force on the grid, eventually to portray as wide an array of diversity as possible, excluding none. The very acceptance of diversity on a leveled ground may allow for a better future for us all.
    In a polytopia, each topos gains its existential meaning by the act of self description.

    connor     Sun, Nov 9, 2008  Permanent link
    @wildcat : You are completely right. I try to allow my dialogue to be impulsive on SC, and thus quite often my impatience has a strong voice. I feel like it comes from the dualistic identity created by functioning in our current systems (work, buy, socialize, etc), and having thoughts and dreams of polytopia and / or my projected future. I want to find ways to link these two existences so that they can be mutually beneficial, rather than feeling like they are constantly at odds. Thus, as always, I appreciate your consistent direction.

    I have a question regarding this:
    I offer to you the idea that a polytopia is inherently open for interpretation by the individual in question allowing for the synergy of multiple value/reward systems.

    I am not sure I understand this fully. How, in this system, would you measure quality? How do we promote quality without an agreement of what quality is?

    NOTE: I feel as though, being the first to comment on this post, I have forcefully directed the dialogue to follow. As the post touches on many different thoughts, I encourage people not to feel like this discussion is the only one that should be had.

    yURI     Tue, Nov 11, 2008  Permanent link
    Isn’t it time for us to become hands-on again?

    Dale Dougherty's piece in Make magazine addresses some of these issues and makes a push for more of a DIY society.
    A quick and thought provoking read.
    Wildcat     Mon, Nov 17, 2008  Permanent link
    Connor: "I have a question regarding this:

    I offer to you the idea that a polytopia is inherently open for interpretation by the individual in question allowing for the synergy of multiple value/reward systems.

    I am not sure I understand this fully. How, in this system, would you measure quality? How do we promote quality without an agreement of what quality is?

    What the above means is that in a Polytopia situation, the focus of the equation is moved into the relationship (me vs. topos, topos vs. topos) instead of on the objectified reality plane of the transaction. In this case the reward/value system that is generated is open for negotiation again and again in each transaction. Given this state of affairs it follows that a synergy between value systems generated in different topos will inevitably arise.
    In this emergent case the interactivity of different value systems inevitably creates a renewed interest in ‘quality’, for though it (quality) will not lend itself to be measured absolutely it will at any given point in time ‘possess’, figuratively speaking, a value for which a reward can and will be realized.

    Note: that is the short version, nevertheless I am writing an extended version of the problem of quality and value/reward systems which I will publish shortly as a different post. thanks for the question Connor, it triggered an avalanche of thoughts.