This week → The whole field ⊗ Wind-up worlds ⊗ An innovative report on old technologies ⊗ Polak‘s Pull from the future ⊗ City-led political structures
A year ago → A favourite in issue No.173 was Superhistory, Not Superintelligence by Venkatesh Rao.
The Whole Field ⊕ Source
At Phenomenal World, a great piece by Max Krahé (originally published in Grand Continent) on markets, planning, and coordinating the green transformation. As the American Green New Deal is pretty much stalled out, Krahé starts with a lot of questions on what needs to be done, how and when, to bring about a response to the climate crisis. He then considers three categories of responses to his questions: “independent local decision-making, market-based coordination, and planning,” which he follows up with a study of their respective strengths and weaknesses. He quickly jumps over local solutions, which is disappointing, then gives an excellent overview of the limitations of market-based coordination, which is very useful in understanding some of the mechanisms preventing markets from providing the needed transition, and how plutocrats and “a united bourgeois front” are preventing ‘easy’ intervention from the political side.
He then dives into how planning (not control) might work, using France’s post-WW2 recovery plan as an example. It’s an interesting parallel because, where much of Europe needed rebuilding, today we also need to rebuild much of how our economies operate (obviously everything else is very different). The Monnet plan concentrated on five sectors, and one today might also start from a similar list, “the five sectors driving climate change, land use, and biodiversity loss today: energy, transport, industry, housing, and agriculture.” The details Krahé provides on how that plan worked are worth a read, the central bureau and commissions being of particular interest.
Some hope in the end; “2022 is not 1989. The green transformation is a generational task, not a revolution unfolding in a matter of months. But apparently stable political structures can shift rapidly when pushed across a tipping point.”
The answer is simple enough: reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero, re-wild significant parts of the earth, phase down the consumption of animal proteins, and convert material use to a circular economy. […]
Since dollars and francs were not freely exchangeable at the time, they had to be budgeted for separately, acting as a double budget constraint. Today, we again face a double budget constraint: economic and ecological. […]
We can imagine a similar planning process for today: a small core planning unit could be set up as the central hub, whose primary task would be to assemble transition commissions for each of the five sectors, as well as for interrelated issues like financing, labor, and regional balance. […]
Though climate change will be a permanent feature of our politics going forward, the tensions and divisions created by this triple inequality—wealth, carbon, power—may get worse, not better, on current trends.
Wind-up Worlds ⊕ Source
Let me use a tired image; this piece by Jay Springett is a bit of an I Know Kung Fu kind of thing. I’m not sure I understand everything yet, and there are some 🐇🕳 I haven’t dropped into yet, but it’s a fascinating post “about Wind-up Worlds, World Running and the urgent collective pivot we need to make towards Slow Social experiences.”
He already covers a lot of ground so I’m not going to try to synthesize it further, just draw your attention to a few parts. 1. Notice his use of grey and green boxes for asides and open questions respectively. Visually signaling evolving thinking, I like it! 2. Be sure to watch the Blaseball video (and read his comments), not something I would have done on my own, and that would have been a mistake. 3. I’m very much into his idea of slow social, the Sentiers Discord is kind of barely waving in that direction, Jay goes a lot further. I’m “putting a pin” on that topic to revisit.
The study of the creation of worlds is still in its infancy. But all the same, worlds can now be found everywhere: Video Games, table top roleplaying sourcebooks, literature, film and comic-book universes with cross media rights, histories and IP, bottom up web3 / power fandoms, theme parks, public buildings, collaborative writing projects, offices, video chat tools and more. […]
What is Worlding? Worlding is the artistic activity of an individual artist conceiving, incubating, triggering, and nurturing a World towards aliveness. […]
Slow Social, is the name I’m giving to shared online social spaces that are more like gardens. One doesn’t need to spend all day there – engagement isn’t a metric to be optimised for. A slow social space could be a wind up world with persistence, that unfolds over a long period of time. […]
Collective online governance should be designed as a slow social experience. It should not be – or further become – the hellish 24/7 technocratic LARPs we have today. … I want my Governance to be a thing that I tend (and attend) to – like a garden, or my house plants.
An Innovative Report on Old Technologies ⊕ Source
Nicolas Nova interviews Kris De Decker on the thinking and history behind Low-Tech Magazine. If you enjoyed last week’s look at Luddites and why I keep being interested in that word, this is a good follow up, with an actual practice of considering technology, older solutions, appropriateness, repair, and maintenance.
If you read books about technology, you quickly realise that the introduction generally deals with their history from the 20th century on, as if nothing happened before. But of course humans have been around for much longer, always inventing things ! Looking at a wider historical context, you notice very different patterns and you come to very different conclusions. […]
The problem with concepts like de-production, degrowth and low-tech though is you could basically define them as ‘how to kill the economic system.’ Obviously, this is a very political stance that scares lots of people. […]
Every new article is just a step in the thinking process, and feedback in the form of comments makes the article almost immediately obsolete. So, really, it’s a continuous project and a project of the commons. There’s so much knowledge in the feedback, it’s never-ending.
Polak’s Pull From the Future ⊕ Source
I use the word ‘note’ for the chunks of newsletters on my website and for some of the shorter posts, based on the concepts of digital gardens and Zettelkasten, but that’s not really what I’m doing. Johannes Kleske, on the other hand, is writing an actual Futures Garden, and the link above is to his note on Polak’s The Image of the Future. Why am I starting with this nitpicking on notes? Because on top of the great insights from the book, it’s also an excellent example of extracting and documenting a concept (Pull of the Future) in a very useful manner.
All of man’s thinking involves a conscious process of dividing his perceptions, feelings, and responses and sorting them into categories on the time continuum. His mental capacity to categorize and reorder reality within the self (present reality) and in relation to perceptions of the not-self (the Other) enables him to be a citizen of two worlds: the present and the imagined. Out of this antithesis, the future is born. […]
The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies the rise and fall of cultures. As long as a society’s image is positive and flourishing, the flower of culture is in full bloom. Once the image begins to decay and lose its vitality, however, the culture does not long survive. […]
[W]e must examine and be as fully aware as possible of the influence on society of those images of the future already existing in the minds of political planners, scientists, and professional practitioners in every field.
The Future Is Not Evenly Distributed—Neither Are We → Weird and technosolutionist in spots but the broader framing matches a trend I’ve been keeping an eye on, especially because it’s clearly visible right now in Québec: cities stepping up quicker and better than nations in the face of current challenges. Noted particularly for this quote: “The global urban population surpassed 50% a few years ago … That’s the fastest adoption of cities we have ever seen. But this trend has occurred so quickly that we have not yet had an institutional transition to a city-led political structure. … The notion of land as power is a quaint concept in practice. Agrarian, medieval, feudal. At best a 19th-century anachronism. But our institutions and power structures still treat this concept as a given.”
WeCrashed, WeWork and the lesson for the future of work → I’ve yet to watch that series, mostly because I despise Adam Neumann, but Christoph Fahle took the time and, as a person who was in coworking from the very beginning, highlights the difference between ‘a culture’ and ‘an industry’ (my words). “Coworking founders were simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by the WeWork story at the beginning. Fascinated because Wework was executing on a scale and had access to funds that we all could just dream of. Disgusted because the pace of its growth ran counter to the values that had inspired us to create coworking spaces in the first place — community and openness, collaboration and sustainability and, not to forget, accessibility.”
Futures, Foresights, Forecasts & Fabulations→ Imaginary Worlds Episode 196: Neurodivergent Futures 🎙 ⭐️ ⊗ Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction (Via Fred Scharmen.) ⊗ Netflix Orders Docuseries ‘The Future Of’ From Vox Media, Shawn Levy (more importantly, Rose Eveleth from Flash Forward is involved, which is promising) ⊗ Speculative Worlds of Color, a slide deck by Jewel Davis, and Revolutionizing Activism: The Power of Utopia are both via Dispatches from the Future ⊗ Seeds of Good Anthropocenes
- 🎥 🤯 Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 5. Superb deepfakes in there, wait for it.
- 🎥 🤩 🤓 💦 🧱 🇮🇹 Ils sont fous, ces Romains!! Fantastic! How did Roman Aqueducts work?. “The aqueducts were awesome manifestations of the Roman knack for practical engineering on a monumental scale.”
- 📸 😍 😍 🐦 Photographic Composites Document the Mesmerizing Flight Trails of Vultures, Crows, and Bats. “In Locked Down Looking Up, Bay Area photographer Doris Mitsch captures the swirling, shapeshifting flight patterns of birds and other winged creatures: a flock of vultures creates coils and whirls between rugged mesas, crows descend toward a forest in single-file trails, and gulls congregate above the sea in lengthy lines.”
- 🤓 💯 🐇 These artists are making tiny ROMs that will probably outlive us all. “It was the beginning of something small but profound: the Uxn, a virtual ecosystem to make experimental tools and games that exists outside the revolving door of always-online tech anchored to subscriptions, needlessly complicated upgrades, and increasingly problematic forms of digital ownership. It is essentially an emulator, to translate the actions of one computer onto another, that can prolong the life of digital data tied to aging hardware and software.”
- 🤔 🇺🇸 ⚛️ Scientists Discover Unexplained Abundance of Rare Nuclear Fusion Fuel on Earth. “Birner and his colleagues hope to root out this hidden supply of helium-3, whether it is natural or anthropogenic. More broadly, the researchers plan to apply their new technique toward untangling the various sources of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses on Earth, an effort that can help to inform our response to human-driven climate change.”
- 🎙 🇲🇽 🇸🇪 SPACE10 Radio. “A digital companion to our Mexico City Pop-Up, SPACE10 Radio explores the theme ‘Beyond Human-Centered Design’ to reimagine design in a way that embraces both people and the planet.”
- 😍 🧱 🇫🇷 🇭🇷 🇪🇸 🇰🇷 🇨🇳 🇨🇦 ⚜️ (Not sure why they only one with no picture is Québec?!?!) Six walled cities that have preserved their walls. “The walled city concept expired some time ago, particularly after the discovery of gunpowder. However, they are architectural structures that were key elements for cities, and even nations. In fact, some bastions were the embryo of many populations that started out as a military settlement or fortification.”
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