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Information Ecosystem for Global Villages and Networks

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  • ms@ms.lt
    Franz Nahrada, I share with many Minciu Sodas groups the first 2 parts of your letter and await with interest your 3rd part and our discussion. I encourage us
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2009
      Franz Nahrada,

      I share with many Minciu Sodas groups the first 2 parts of your letter and
      await with interest your 3rd part and our discussion. I encourage us all
      to write about our own visions and dreams.

      Thank you for including us as you share your thinking, dreaming, planning
      and implementing. I briefly share some of my own priorities for the rest
      of the year:

      * Have an effective "help room" where people can get online help including
      technical advice, tutoring, support for projects, but also coordinate
      emergency response and organize teams for commercial projects, using live
      help like chat and Skype and video bridges, but also wikis, twitter,
      blogs, email, video, podcasts.
      * A training program where those who want paid work can practice how to
      help others and get included for commerical work.
      * A culture of organizing teams for online community outreach on behalf of
      sponsors as we have for Mornflake cereal http://www.mornflake.com
      * Collect our dreams for our lives (and also visions such as yours) both
      in letters, interviews and also using audio and video.
      * Study our conversations related to values so that we can see how we all
      appreciate each other's values and help flesh them out - I think that God
      is interested in such an investigation so that we might all understand
      each other.
      * Video, art and other creative projects by which we explain our ideas to
      others and investigate them further.
      * Blogs for each of our own "global villages" so that we can imagine each
      other's local situation.
      * Making evident what we mean by our shared Worknets culture and having
      well defined subcultures as examples, too.
      * Focus resources on "super labs" that are exemplary on-the-ground bases
      and online networks for our Worknets culture, starting with Minciu Sodas
      (Andrius Kulikauskas), Samwel Kongere in Rusinga Island, and I hope Franz
      with GIVE.

      Franz, I'm in agreement with your letters and have taken very seriously
      your global villages vision so that even I this year have started living
      in the village with Zenonas and Audrone Anusauskas. I could write much
      about the remarkable work they have done for more than a decade, including
      Zenonas's Internet TV station and also the way they share their building
      complex (an old Soviet collective farm tractor repair center) for free
      with local businesses in tractor repair, dairy and horses, and a sawmill;
      as well as Zenonas' inventions of a furnace that burns wet scrap wood and
      a windmill; and their work with youth, Internet access, and sobriety. My
      wish is that we admit such people as leaders who already live such "global
      village" values, organize around such independent thinkers.

      I want to work in an integrative, holistic way and so I don't understand
      why you would work on a separate online system from what I've invested
      myself in even as I expand. I would hope that given my efforts you would
      invite me to expand at this opportunity. If you choose to split your
      energies as you have with DorfWiki and Minciu Sodas, if your'e not
      interested in having a network of superlabs including GIVE, Minciu Sodas,
      etc. if our own culture does not have priority then I should participate
      less in your projects then I have up til now and focus on other people
      like Samwel, Edward, Janet or anybody who would work with me on an
      integrative culture. Otherwise I expect to compete with you and I don't
      want to but that's the situation I find myself with Appropedia (because of
      their license) for example.

      Thank you for including us in your thinking.

      Andrius Kulikauskas
      Minciu Sodas


      An Information Ecosystem for Global Villages - and their Networks

      Dear all,

      Summer greetings from Vienna. I have been a bit silent recently and that
      is due tu a huge amount of projects that await completion; and some new
      things that create exciting opportunities. This will still go on for quite
      a while. Now it seems I have to at least explain some of the ongoing
      stuff. Andrius has reacted strongly to the plans I have unveiled for the
      new elements of the GlobalVillages information infrastructure, and we had
      some discussions on private mail but agreed to sort out these things out
      in the open - which means here, on GlobalVillages yahoogroup, the
      mailinglist that Andrius was very active in creating. I hope this will
      also raise the participation and depth of what happens in this mailing

      I want to give a little give of background and then come back to the
      current issues. To do this in a more responsive way, I will split this
      letter in three parts, one once again giving the general background, one
      giving a special account of my work with Andrius and the third outlining
      the ideas.

      The background: a new culture

      So the good news is that the Archangelsk Challenge, as I like to call it,
      has increasingly contributed to serious network building. What if the more
      than just hypothetical case happened that at least some leading
      representatives of an economic and political superpower turn to a small
      network of future-minded people to seek ways out of a manifest crisis and
      dysfunctionality - that in the long run tends to threaten the very base of
      society? What if they engage in a diaolog to seriously promote a model
      region for rural development? As one of the finest experts on Russian
      politics and society, Kai Ehlers, who met Gleb Tyurin in Moscow, has put
      it in a private mail: This is a serious matter, there are high
      expectations, but there is little consideration yet on the side of human
      relations, its all about efficacy, effective solutions to stop the dying
      of villages. They are really ready to try out new solutions, but can we be
      sure that there is an understanding that such new solutions also require a
      new culture?

      Thats in a nutshell the dilemma. More and more people are seeing that the
      current ways have lead us to disaster, West and East, and capitalism and
      neoliberalism and oligarchs really have a bad press nowadays. But does
      that mean we already have a sufficient idea of another society and how it
      really is going to work? Are we even ready for radical changes? I think
      the answer to this dilemma is slowly forming. In agreement with Gleb I
      have decided that we will seek to show to the Russian public first that
      this newly emerging society is an aggegation of varous patterns, it is not
      a society all of a piece, but a living ecosystem of many elements, that
      seem contradictory on the surface but might act synergetically at depth
      and even lead us to a new society.

      A lead paradigm to build our culture on

      If there is one lead paradigm for that new society, it is the fact that
      the mere individualisation and privatisation of basically common social
      affairs, resources, interests, venues, infrastructures, objects, memes has
      run humanity in the deepest crisis in history; in fact its the first truly
      global crisis and it has so many faces that one can hardly count. The
      economic downturn; the depletion of resources; the climate catastrophy;
      poverty and the breakdown of old subsistence structures; the breakdown of
      agreements; the uncontrolled manipulation of the geneticly balanced web of
      life; at the end we need more than two hands to count our sorrows. Its
      hardly to expect that a renewed role of the state and the public can help
      us to overcome this situation; the state is built on the accumulation of
      wealth and that has always required the separation of haves and have-nots,
      and an instance that have them work together despite their differences and
      opposition. The haves have to increase their property and give a share to
      the state, so always money and the functioning of the economy is a prime
      concern. If this system ceases to work, the state ceases to work. The
      public becomes the field of erosion, of negligeance, of decay, it is that
      which belongs to nobody.

      A new paradigm is therefore forming and that is the paradigm of the
      commons. Commons is something shared by real people, and there is no
      commons without community. We had an exciting retreat in June at the
      castle of the Hatzfeld family, an old noble German family which has played
      several times a prominent role in history, hosted in person by counts
      Hermann and Angelika Hatzfeld, providing silence and space for a "come
      together of many tribes", as one participant, George Caffentzis from the
      midnight notes collective remarked. In these four days of reflection, we
      took a tour d'horizon through most of the fields of contestation mentioned
      above, and we concluded with a reenforced feeling that the common
      denominator of the solution is the reinvention of communities as a basic
      pillar of society. Communities that take the stewardship to preserve and
      augment common resources, use them wisely and provide the maximum of
      benefit for all people on earth and future generations will be the
      backbone of the new society.

      In this sense, Global Villages is not a hobby of a few, but one of the
      central patterns that can fulfill and manifest the commons paradigm. It is
      therefore an answer for the whole world, a way to reconstruct a network of
      physical communities to take care of their respective parts of the
      planetary surface that keeps up with our highest expactation on life,
      culture and fulfillment, uses communication technology to keep us in touch
      as planetary networks of ingenuity and creativity. It is a radical
      approach that requires to do away with concepts of first and third world
      and claim highest standards of life can emerge everywhere, and that the
      power of cooperation and knowledge is the prime force to make that


      In the previous letter I explained the background of the globalvillages
      network, the actual Archangelsk challenge and the central role of the
      commons paradigm for globalvillages. I now to continue with what makes the
      relation between GlobalVillages and MinciuSodas special.

      A fruitful cooperation

      In the recent months, triggered by the Archangelsk challenge, the meme of
      the Global Villages Network was recreated after it has been dormant for
      almost 12 years. In 1997, at the third international Global Village
      Symposium in Vienna, we created the Global Villages Network as a common
      endavour of those who seeked "to identify the potential of global
      information networks to increase economic, ecological and social
      sustainability, wise use of resources, quality of life, a beautiful and
      healthy living environment, equality in living conditions to a global
      scale, cultural diversity and coherence, focussed around settlements,
      communities, neighbourhoods, urban and regional development"
      (http://www.give.at/give/gvn/gvndraft.htm). But after the conference there
      was no communication structure strong enough to keep that momentum going.
      Other endavours came in the way, then a difficult health condition, the
      death of my father. Later on I decided I had to start from the very
      basics, work with Austrian villages, Croatian monasteries etc. Only when I
      met Andrius in 2003 I found a partner who gradually helped with active
      networking to expand the web. He might have subscribed most of you to this

      Andrius focus was very different from mine and still is; his reality is
      the creative individual, and in particular even the misfit, the odd one
      out, that has untapped potential disrespected by society. Andrius
      impressed me with his genuine ability to go to the edges of society and
      have people improve and manifest their potential, declare high goals and
      asppirations and be held accountable to them. He created a totally
      different type of community than I had in mind; a cultural community
      rather than a community around a location or a value; a community that
      seeks to preserve individuality rather than rally around a common goal.
      But still that could be a common value, to protect freedom and expression
      and independence, at the same time learn to be heard, make a living and
      all these other hard things.

      Eventually we came together and mutually influenced each other; Andrius
      discovered that the places at the edge that I wanted to bring to the
      center of society resonated with the structure and psychology of the
      people he had in mind. I discovered that such tribes of nomadic
      independents could be like honeybees to Global Villages, bring the nectar
      of knowledge and memes, of initiative and emotion around the world.

      Eventually we found out that there is a multiplicity of patterns or levels
      - and that there was most likely a something like "our Culture" in which
      these patterns like "Global Villages" and "Independent Thinkers" would
      correspond and resonate synergetically.

      An information Ecosystem - or two?

      From the beginning we had also looked into the online tools that were the
      glue of both of our endavours. I convinced Andrius to take notice of
      Helmut Leitners ProWiki, as an infrastructure for common thought, and
      Andrius offered his usage of yahoogroups. Still our vision was very
      different; only recently we built a mental model that would facilitate
      both of our visions. Yet at least somehow we worked on trhe same venues.

      Andrius approach was to have the possibility to aggregate thoughts in
      unprecedented ways; to always shake and stir the kaleidoscope of thought
      splinters so they would form new and unprecedented memes, originality and
      relations. Thoughts are the material to build relations, thats how I would
      describe his approach.

      I was the opposite: I wanted something like the hitchhikers guide to the
      future, a briliant collective cathedral like book with many fractal niches
      that you could dive deeper and deeper into, a library of the minds of
      thousand brilliant researchers who assemble knowledge bit by bit, assistig
      and supporting each other. I liked the Andrius with his deep structural
      thinking, the Philosopher that resembles Hegel in his bold identifications
      and conclusions, building more and more complex notions like in his
      Glossary on Structure.

      Nevertheless we joined forces and I became active contributor to Andrius
      development plans. One thing that recently has pushed me very much in this
      direction was the relative of the relative failure (in comparison to our
      expectations) of Wikis as a tool of common authorship. I had to learn it
      the hard way that it is immensly difficult and it requires good guidelines
      to think along on a common piece. So yes, I think it became also
      attractive to look into the possibility of an information ecosystem that
      starts with seeding and goes all the way from blooming to
      cross-fertilisation to fruit.

      Andrius had the idea of tagging and reusing emailed content as an easy way
      to start. But I have also yet to see the efficiency of this approach, I
      always thought that emails and lists and even fora create an enormous
      amount of dead information that is difficult to bring to life. Andrius
      does artful indexing, but do people consider that they have to be a bit
      more disciplined in the way they write emails? A positive example for me
      would be the IDC list hat encourages people to be concise but also
      elaborate in their statements, writing from the point of view that this
      piece might also be read in a year from now. There is no Tafu (Text above,
      fullquote under) which produces enormous information overload.

      So these are some points of form that it is hard to agree on, and all I
      can do is try to give examples sometimes of communications that I myself
      would like to read. It might be time-consuming, yes, but we are already
      suffering from an immense information overload and there is only so much
      that we can digest. I do not think that it is always good to use personal
      letters to address common issues. it maybe good to qoute, but in a
      framework of a re-contextualized information. The development of tools
      like Twitter is exciting because it takes care of the simple need to
      communicate personal messages to a bigger number of people. It shifts the
      significance of mailing lists to capture what is important and really
      urgent, what constitutes a more sustainable information space.

      Beside the form, there are also questions of content that might be
      different. For me, the ideal is still a content that develops over time
      and the idea of an online community is that it develops a piece of content
      useful for itself and the world. Globalvillages is a community that aims
      to gather people and initiatives to create a knowledge base for the entire
      functionality of a village of the third milennium. Which is to say, a
      relatively small place that facilitates people with nearly all the
      spectrum of support a large city can provide - eliminating redundancies
      and overhead, capitalizing on the gain in time and energy, the
      miniaturisation of the whole system. You all might have realized what a
      gigantic task this is. We have created a meme, a thought - but to become
      reality, the thought has to absorb reality. We are the ones responsible
      for this. We must answer the question how a person with a shoulder surgery
      or a sudden stroke gets the medical treatment necessary, how that should
      be possible - or should we move old and sick people out of the villages? I
      hope not. We must answer the question how a village economy works, what we
      can produce there, what not. We must answer the question how to have
      fulfilling social relations with a small number of people, even if we
      include our travelling honeybees.

      We therefore must create an active community of research, attract many
      people to our point of view that only targeted research can really deliver
      useful solutions, whereas merely general research is belongig to a past
      society that was based on structural ignorance. In todays society, still
      nothing is really decided by knowledge. Whereas in a future Global
      Villages society knowledge and reason would be very crucial elements of
      the social fabric, simply because there is much less to externalize any
      more. So half of the definition of Global Villages is that they are and
      will always be living research facilities, some more active in developing,
      some more active in integrating for their own needs. Each Global Village
      is a learning center plus a living laboratory. Living and Learning becomes
      one although still there is this internal differentiation that learning
      might need separate spaces and venues. I imagine that a kind of library or
      house of knowledge will develop, that facilitates individual and group
      learning based on global knowledge exchange. This library or house of
      knowledge will be the visual expression of a Global Village, just like the
      place of reunion and affirmation (the church, the temple) was in the past.

      Now this is not a utopian dream any more. At least the meme has spread and
      is constantly spreading. Recently I met the mayor of Ottensheim near Linz,
      Uli Boeker, a young dynamic woman who was a professional in child care
      until she discovered the beauty of arts and festivals and became the
      director of the festival of Regions in upper Austria. Now she is major (on
      the ticket of a civic initiative !!) of a small market town as I said just
      outside Linz on the banks of river Danube. I proposed to her a curriculum
      for a "learning village" - 12 or 24 videobridged evenings that would
      connect the village population and the active innovators within with the
      best experts and achievers in equal minded villages in the world -
      touching all fields of village life theme by theme, evening ny evening. A
      pilot project allowing us to do on the way what Global Villages later
      would do permanently. She said yes to that proposition after a few
      minutes, and she told me that she was carrying the meme of a Global
      Village in her mind since 30 years. It is not something that you have to
      explain tediously and painstakingly, it is something that becomes
      intuitibely evident. This has been a major shift in the global information
      field in the last years, because people also find each other, rediscover
      their past dreams, and can easily explain it even to those who have never
      had that dream.

      So it becomes an utter necessity to host the Global Villages Community,
      organize its learning process, accumulate its knowledge base, organize its
      conferences, identify its subdivisions. The Archangelsk challenge is just
      an outer means to support what we have to do anyway. And the progress that
      Marcin has with his developments - something we have strongly supported -
      was the final point that we were discussing our own information
      infrastructure, that was entirely devoted to be the centerpiece of the
      Global Villages movement.

      That does not take away from my commitment to support and codevelop the
      infrastructure of Minciu Sodas and the Global Villages Worknet as part of
      Minciu Sodas culture. I would say its an extensive overlap here, because
      Minciu Sodas attracts many people that intuitively feel they also belong
      to Global Villages. I think of Minciu Sodas as a big virtual university of
      a new kind, that gives a lot of support on the personal level to those
      willing to learn. There are now high schools all around Austria that have
      begun to understand for people to really learn, they must be exposed to
      real life and real problems - so they organize joint ventures with
      companies, associations and initiatives where the students are engaging in
      practical work which also means they can make money - something previously
      unheard of, forbidden and shameful in our school system. Andrius is the
      director of such an institution and I would call him an adult educator of
      the future, organizing a learning community if that kind for adults. They
      learn that in order to make their way in life, they have to "dare to stand
      alone, dare to have a purpose right and dare to make it known".

      I feel responsible for the growth and development of Worknets and Minciu
      Sodas alike, and i would not give up on that. Globalvillages.info and this
      yahoogroup and also future elements of collaborative development will be
      an invaluable contribution to the development of our community. This is
      the place to build on individual initiative rather than structure, the
      subjective rather than the objective, the singularity rather than the
      majority, the individual rather than the typical, the story rather than
      statistics. This is a place for dynamic developments and new experiments.
      It will complement beautifully with a place where the whole cathedral-like
      building is emerging, like globalvillage.at and globalvillages.org.
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