mfioretti: p2p*

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  1. What are the limits to urban manufacturing? Surely not everything can be made/produced locally, so as a percentage of a city’s total consumption of resources, how much can we expect to shift?

    In theory, a city could make anything. It depends on factors such as whether we shift to safe, non-polluting products and production processes – one of the reasons for zoning in cities was to separate sensitive uses such as residential areas from the nuisance and potential danger of industrial areas (and there are environmental justice issues with who lives near dirty industry). What a city can produce also depends on what it wishes to prioritise, for example, does it want to invest a lot of land in car-dominated transport, or can it reclaim land for all kinds of productive purposes? Does it have the energy available to relocalise more of its production, or is it willing to invest in building such capacity?And governments and business love to talk about the circular economy, and recycling, but if you’re not making locally, if you’re not providing a way for things to be produced and materials to be remade locally, you don’t have a circular economy.

    Most cities could readily produce more of their own furniture, utensils, fixtures and fittings, appliances, equipment/tools, textiles and clothing – as cities once did anyway before cheap fossil fuels allowed production to sprawl across the globe. But not all cities can or would want to make more complex artefacts like aircraft, which require specialised skills and facilities. It is likely that some kinds of manufacturing will still require an economy of scale – regional, or national, but not necessarily international. It depends on the size of the city; the skills of the workforce; whether the city values local production and associated economic and social benefits over windfalls derived from property speculation; and what its policy and incentive frameworks prioritise, though these are often influenced by national policy.

    Each city will have its own unique way of addressing this, however here are some suggestions:

    Build the understanding and buy-in to get people invested in the idea. Determine how you can best communicate what cosmolocalism means, and articulate the benefits for different interest groups – why would they want to pursue this, what’s the story to engage them with?
    Make an inventory or map of what locally productive capacity already exists, both formal and informal.
    Know when and why local production might not be the best option for a certain activity.
    Keep the emphasis on people and culture first – and then appropriate technology. Give at least as much emphasis to the role of ownership and underlying economic DNA in local production as to the flow of physical materials.
    Appreciate that innovation occurs and is being practised by people who do not identify with the language of innovation, who might not see themselves as entrepreneurs or makers or agents of change. Recognise that remarkable, innovative activity occurs in unexpected places – outside the boundaries of ‘innovation districts’ where, all too often, business and government and the big end of town have determined ‘this is what innovation looks like, who does it, here’s where it happens’ because you will miss many voices, many ideas, and a big part of what’s going on in your city.
    Take some calculated risks – you can’t be innovative, or achieve anything audacious, without it!
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  2. What has amazed and excited me the most in recent scientific news is that the concept of trust can be measured validly and reliably and that it organizes a vast amount of information about what makes families and human societies function well, or fail.

    As a relationship researcher and couples-family therapist, I have known for decades that trust is the number one issue that concerns couples today. Consistent with this truth is the finding that the major trait people search for in trying to find a mate is trustworthiness. Robert Putnam’s groundbreaking book Bowling Alone began documenting this amazing field of scientific research. It is based on a very simple question. Sociologists have used a yes/no survey question: "In general, would you say that you trust people?" It turns out that regions of the USA, and countries throughout the world vary widely in the percentage of people who answer that question by saying "yes."

    Here’s the amazing scientific news. In the USA the percentage of people who trust others in a region correlates highly with a vast array of positive social indices such as greater economic growth, the greater longevity of citizens, their better physical health, lower crime rates, greater voting participation, greater community involvement, more philanthropy, and higher child school achievement scores, to mention just a few variables that index the health of a community. As we move from the North to the South in the United States, the proportion of people who trust others drops continuously. A great archival index of trust turns out to be the discrepancy in income between the richest and the poorest people in a region.

    High income discrepancy implies low trust. That discrepancy has been growing in the USA since the 1950s, as has the decline in community participation. For example, data show that in the 1950s CEOs earned about 25 times more than the average worker, but that ratio grew steadily so that in 2010 that ratio was about 350 times more. So we are in a crisis in the USA, and it’s no surprise that this difference between the rich and the poor has become a major issue in the 2016 election. One amazing fact in these results is the following: how well our country cares about its poorest citizens is actually a reliable index of the social and economic health of the entire country. Therefore, an empirical finding is that empathy for the poor is smart politics.

    These results also hold internationally, where the trust percentage is also related to less political corruption. Only 2 percent of the people in Brazil trust one another, whereas 65 percent trust others in Norway. While many other factors are important internationally, we can note that today Brazil is experiencing vast amounts of chaos, while Norway is thriving.

    These spectacular data are, unfortunately, correlational. Of course, it is hard to do real experiments on societal levels. However, these findings on trust have now spawned new growing academic fields of behavioral economics, and neuro-economics. These fields are generating exciting new experiments.

    This breakthrough trust work, combined with the mathematics of Game Theory, has led to the creation of a valid "trust metric" in interactions between two people. A new understanding of the processes of how two people build or erode trust in a love relationship has spawned a new therapy that is currently being tested.

    What this means to me is that we are coming very close to an understanding of human cooperation in family relationships that generalize to society as a whole. I am hopeful that these breakthroughs may eventually lead us to form a science of human peace and harmony.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2018-03-29)
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  3. “If everyone was to behave like us then the world would be a better place — we would be able to get rid of guilt, inequality, competition, greed and anger.”“If we all ate less and were less materialistic the world would be a better place.” “Only by changing ourselves can we change the world, by our living example.”

    This is the one foundational belief system of every intentional community that all members can agree on. This was also the justification that the hippies used for practically everything. The theory goes like this: Instead of acting in the world, all you have to do is become a peaceful, non-violent person — a model human, and others will follow your model. This is how you change the world, by focusing entirely upon yourself.

    The results of this experiment are, generations later, clear — changing yourself became a vast industry of self-help books and courses, dietary, fitness and personal “spiritual” planning regimes — a form of obsessive self-focusing and self-policing, which, it turns out, corporations are very happy to encourage.

    The Final Test of the Blank Slate: Children

    There is one other final and hard-to-face factor that is an unintended consequences of Utopian alternative parenting experiments. There is a reason that the average life of a Utopian project is the time to takes to settle and begin to raise children.

    Children are the authoritative test of the theory that humans are born a blank slate and that all behavior is conditioned “by society” — of Rousseau’s potent idea that man is “born free but is everywhere in chains.” Children of Utopians should behave very differently than “old world” children, because they have been brought as blank slates into an egalitarian environment, and have been raised with positivist behavioral conditioning.

    But the children of Utopians fail every test: they are selfish, they grab and steal, they fight, and love competitive sports, they bully and they lie — just like all other children. Lying, it turns out, is a necessary developmental stage in learning. These naturally dishonest, violent creatures disprove the theory of human mind as a blank slate upon which images of perfection can be drawn.

    As the behaviorist J. B. Skinner (creator of Walden Two) realized, you can’t pass what you’ve learned on through your DNA so any achievements in equality achieved have to be repeated from scratch. Utopian behavioral engineering is an ongoing struggle against something that Utopians deny even exists — human nature. Not only are Utopian parents horrified by the little dictators that they have spawned, they find that they themselves have horrible anti-Utopian cravings to put their children above all the others. The maternal bond and the need for privacy also seem to be pan-cultural. Children brought up communally suffer neglect, as other adults find ways of refusing to care for children that are not their own. The lack of childcare and of constancy in who is “mother and father” leads to kids not being taken care of at all, falling between the cracks, leading to abuse and damaged children. People care a lot more for their own kids than they do for other kids as an obligation. One frequently hears Utopians complaining that someone else’s children are ruining everything.

    As for mothers — we discovered after the 1970s that “free love” communes turn into coercive systems in which women are forced to sleep with men they don’t want to. They also lead to male dominated harems. John Humphrey Noyes, the father of “perfectionism” and “complex marriage” fathered 58 children in his commune in the 1850s. Another Utopian collective in Holland was so radical that it’s male leader removed the age of consent and slept with his own daughters and those of other parents. While, the Friedrich’s Hoff Commune, led by Viennese performance art guru, Otto Muehl, collapsed with Muehl being given a “seven year prison sentence for widespread sexual abuse of minors.” Variations on this sickening story have been repeated with convicted sex offender and cult leader William Kamm and Warren Jeffs with his “50 brides.” When a charismatic leader takes control and demands that others de-condition themselves, exploitation is tolerated and then becomes the norm. All of this is done, with the coercive Utopian alibi that all capitalist and patriarchal behaviors and boundaries must be swept away. Auroville, which attempts to be government-free, and money-free, has been plagued with growing reports of the crimes of Sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and murder.

    No matter how much Utopian communities try to get rid of the idea of sexual ownership — the female desire to chose a mate may be a constant for our species. It does however ensure the continuation of competitive behaviors, which leads us once again to hierarchies. To get rid of this, female choice would have to be stopped, a process that we associate with cultures that are oppressive.

    The Shakers who were celibate and only adopted children became extinct after their adopted children refused to adopt the rules of Shakerism. The Harmony Society died out because it refused to reproduce. And the experiment in Fourierirsm known as Brook Farm ended after with many child related problems, one of which being when the children refused to be placed at the bottom of the Fourierist redistribution hierarchy and were forced to clean the toilets.

    So many intentional communities create trouble for themselves by trying to replace the nuclear and extended family structure with other forms of mating and child rearing, only to find that mothers and children simply want to leave.

    Intentions Are Not Enough

    One of the great mistakes we make in interpersonal behavior, is to judge people by their intentions and not by the real outcome of those intentions. To let them off with saying “we meant well.” The same is true for wider society and the many and repeated failures of applying Utopian ideas to reality are nearly always excused by the same means — people say “but we meant well” or “it’s still a good idea, it just hasn’t worked in practice yet.”

    It could be that the greatest failing of intentional communities is contained within this very formulation. A community that is based upon declaring intentions is apt to be fearful of outcomes that would disprove those good intentions and invalidate them. So, the burying of facts about failure (moral, practical, political) would appear to be one of the secret tasks of those who live by intentions alone, who, rather than trying to address problems as they arise would rather bury the results, hide the outcomes and continue as if good intentions were all that was required. It is precisely this denial of outcomes that leads intentional communities to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Good intentions are clearly not enough but we shall undoubtedly continue to witness the communities of those who live by the constant re-affirmation of good intentions alone, continuing to fail and to bury the evidence of their failure in order to “keep on believing.” A result of this is that intentional communities will not learn from their mistakes, and will keep on springing up, not as a force that will gather momentum or lead to progress as we move through history, but as a ceaseless eruption of the same good intentions beset by the same systemic problems and doomed by internal contradictions to fail, all over again.
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  4. The study examined data collected from 40 municipal broadband providers and private throughout 2015 and 2016. Pricing data was collected predominately by visiting carrier websites, where pricing is (quite intentionally) often hidden behind prequalification walls, since pricing varies dramatically based on regional competition.

    In many markets, analysts couldn’t make direct comparisons with a private ISP, either because the ISP failed to meet the FCC’s 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up standard definition of broadband (a problem for countless telcos who refuse to upgrade aging DSL lines), or because the ISP prequalification website terms of service “deterred or prohibited” data collection.

    But out of the 27 markets where they could make direct comparisons, researchers found that in 23 cases, the community-owned ISPs’ pricing was lower when the service costs and fees were averaged over four years.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-17)
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  5. Peer production has emerged as a new and relevant way of organising the work of distributed and autonomous individuals in the production and distribution of digital content. Increasingly, the adoption of peer production is taking place not only in the development of digital and immaterial content, but also in the design, manufacturing and distribution of physical goods. Furthermore, Open Design and Open Hardware projects are developed, discussed, manufactured and distributed thanks to digital fabrication technologies, digital communication technologies, advanced funding initiatives (like crowdfunding platforms and hardware incubators) and globally integrated supply chains. This new systemic dimension of work is possible, among other factors, thanks to local facilities like Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Hackerspaces (that can be generally called Maker laboratories), where individuals can gather and form communities with other people, designing and manufacturing together. Generally, these people are referred to as Makers and, while their existence is still an emergent phenomenon, it is widely acknowledged that they could exemplify a new modality of work. We investigated the knowledge, values and working dimensions of Makers in Italy with the Makers' Inquiry, a survey that focused on Makers, Indie Designers and managers of Maker laboratories. This research generated a first overview of the phenomenon in Italy, improving the knowledge of the profiles of Makers; an important step because Makers are usually defined in a very broad way. Furthermore, we investigated their profiles regarding their values and motivations, in order to understand how much Makers engage in peer production or in traditional businesses and whether their working condition is sustainable or not. Finally, we compared these profiles with data regarding traditional designers and businesses and the national context. Given the recent nature of the Maker movement, the focus of this article is on providing a first overview of the phenomenon in Italy with an exploratory analysis and with comparison with existing related literature or national data, rather than contextualising the Maker movement in sociological and political contributions. Far from happening in a void, Italian Makers have a strong relationship with their localities and established industry. Therefore, this is a recent evolution, where Makers work with a broader palette of projects and strategies: With both non-commercial and commercial activities, both peer production and traditional approaches. The activity of making is still a secondary working activity that partially covers the Makers’ income, who are mostly self-employed working at home, in a craft workshop or in a Fab Lab in self-funded or non-commercial initiatives, where technology is not the only critical issue. As a conclusion, we identified current patterns in the working condition of Italian Makers. The data gathered shows some interesting information that, however, could be applicable only to an Italian context. Nevertheless, the survey could be a starting point to compare the same phenomenon in different countries. Therefore, we released the survey files, software and data as open source in order to facilitate the adoption, modification, verification and replication of the survey.
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  6. While these high-profile cases and thereby theoretical possibilities often attract the headlines, the real challenge is reimagining our institutional architecture to match the dream offered by emerging technologies. Just as the Victorians imagined new institutions such as what is now the British Standards Institution and renaissance Italy imagined the concept of IP and patents, we need to make sure that the rules of the game match the possibility of the moment.
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  7. It think the weak part of the commons is that very frequently it is not a business for anyone. So, nobody is interested in funding it. This is a real hurdle for its development. The solution is to create a new kind of money that can fund the commons. Conventional money taps into the scarcity. The new money that can help build the commons taps on the abundance.
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  8. Through the geographical focus of the platform, users are encouraged to find other conscious, awakened individuals in their local area and, via the messaging tools provided, connect and form empowering, offline connections which in turn will enable collaboration and positive community action.
    An online space for discussion and collaboration

    Coeō is a unique platform for topic focused, global collaboration. Cross referencing online discussion between many networked sites enables a unique, topic based and grassroots collaboration between movements.
    Bringing movements together

    Coeō has brought together a unique and growing network of movements, creating much-needed unity. Thanks to Coeō, members from a growing number of groups such as Ubuntu Planet, The Full Circle Project, Prepare for Change, The Freedom Cell Network and The Conscious Media Coalition are coming together, connecting and collaborating. The local connections made between members of these varied groups is enabling greater collaborative action at a grassroots level.
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  9. The basic income is an idea whose time is coming, because there won’t be enough work to go around. For me the basic income is a one-off subsidy for automation — to un-hook humanity from bullshit job creation and promote hte delinking of work and wages.

    However, it’s a transitional measure. It can only be paid for by the state taxing the market sector. As the market sector shrinks, that means you run out of taxes. So I never use the words “unconditional” or universal. I would make the basic income conditional on engagement with the demos of the city. For example, if you obliged peopel to take part in collective groups to manage the chronic diseases of poverty: mental illness, hypertension, stress, obesity; you could point to a payback from the basic income in terms of current spending.
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  10. prototyping with desktop 3D printers (rather than CNC milling machines) may be less environmental impactful than first thought, but this is dependent on high utilization of the printer. This conclusion appears rarely exploited by Fab Labs: by being shared, open, peer-learning spaces, they boost the potential for eco-efficient use of shared equipment. They may also remove health, safety and emission problems away from the home or office, given appropriate health, safety and waste management measures are adopted in the Lab. Stephens et al. (2013) examined ultrafine particle emissions from desktop 3D printers and recommended caution in use in  inadequately ventilated spaces. (Ventilation, filters and careful procedures are more clearly observed with the use of laser cutters and milling machines in makerspaces than 3D printers.) This was also the conclusion in Short et al. (2015) (who examined more 3D printing technologies than Stephens et al., 2013, and not only in the context of personal, desktop machines); the authors expressed concern that environmental impacts (and health and safety issues) of many materials used in additive manufacturing remain unknown, including when they begin to degrade. These hazardous issues, connected to process waste, support materials, resins, finished products and so on, impact not only people in the fabrication space, but also people downstream in the waste cycle as well as natural ecosystems at final disposal. This issue will become even more prominent as other types of 3D printers are developed based on expiring patents. (Desktop 3D printers have up until recently been solely FDM, fused deposition modelling, printers; low-cost, desktop SLA, stereolithography, printers are now entering the market whose materials and processes are less certain to be benign.)  Hunt et al. (2015) identified the challenge of recycling the polymers used in personal 3D printers, and to that end developed a model for recycling codes that could be deployed in the United States as well as the design scripts that could print the codes into the products. The same research group (Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology) also examined the life cycle benefits of distributed recycling: a scenario where home users and prosumers would perform their own recycling processes from postconsumer goods for their own future 3D printing processes (Krieger et al., 2014). These studies are rather unusual in that they project for a scenario where small-scale, distributed, open manufacturing exists and then conduct studies to pre-empt the barriers to the environmental sustainability of such a system. A similar strategy can be seen in Kostakis et al. (2013), who explored the viability of a new social production mode oriented to sustainability, desktop manufacturing and commons-based peer production, via a case study of an open source wind turbine design.

    These recent studies therefore appear to be taking a new direction, acknowledging a future where manufacturing is distributed and small scale and peer production has a clear role. They may be placed in the constructs of ‘bespoke fabrication’ and ‘mass fabrication’, little addressed as yet, as depicted in Figure 5 below (which appeared as Figure 4 in paper 1). They may also represent small steps to a better understanding of the under-addressed areas of research in Figure 6 below (which appeared as Figure 1 in paper 2). Nevertheless, particularly when considering the opportunities and threats of a new distributed production paradigm, as represented on the right side of Figure 6, significant challenges remain in deciding how to best study them. Part of the challenge lies in dealing with complexity and large system boundaries if one is comparing mass production to distributed production.
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