Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 31st, 2011

Open Source Ecology, Do it yourself civilization, Global Village Construction Set…: Do they reform communities? 
Suppose that you dispose of a complete set of design drawings and instructions to build an entire manufacturing plant, would you undertake the job?
For example, instead of purchasing spare parts, you are enabled to manufacturing them yourself from scratch, then would you feel emboldened to try, or to associate people into “do it yourself” communities for particular ecological culture…?  Do you think spare parts would drop in price, drastically, as manufacturers feel threatened that communities might contemplate such crazy enterprises if the prices are high and worth trying?
Have you ever heard of  groups such as:  Practical Action, or Appropedia, or Howtopedia?  Apparently, they all provide instructional knowledge repositories.  What’s that again?
For example, two Swedish designers released a new gold standard for the “how to genre”  (taking a cue from IKEA) of  instructions for a pedal-powered industrial juicer (in pictograms), which enable semi-literate engineers in Kenya’s informal maker economy.
In the US, Farm Hack is working to publish improvised solutions useful to young farmers.
LasersaurDIYLILCNCReprap, and others are all sharing plans and promoting a culture of Open Hardware, and a resurgence of consumer kits.
There are scattered networks of engineers, farmers and supporters who are  working to build the Global Village Construction Set.
Well, this is a modular kind of Do it yourself (DIY), of low-cost, open source, high performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines.  These assortment of machines are considered to extend the basis for building a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.
The primary aim of these DIY net-workers is to lower the barriers-to-entry into farming, building, and manufacturing. If they succeed, the implications would be incredible.  So far, they’ve prototyped 8 of the 50 Machines, such as the tractor, drill press, soil pulverizer, torch table, hydraulic power unit, compressed earth brick press, walk-behind tractor, and 150-ton hole puncher.

They’ve been publishing the designs and instructions on their wiki. They’ve been financially supported by the crowd of a growing base of the more than 400 “true fans”.  The fans pay a small amount every month, and their recent successful Kickstarter campaign will help to build a 5k sq. ft. fabrication training facility at OSE’s rural Missouri headquarters.

In Missouri, Marcin Jakubowski (see note) leads research, prototyping and testing of the machines. It’s a constant adventure and displayed on OSE’s blog. However, the whole point is to share the instructions, and they’ve got to be comprehensive.

So, for every machine they build, OSE is publishing an online library that includes pretty much everything.  For example, the design rationale, 3d CAD files, 2d fabrication drawings, circuit board design files, wiring diagrams, machine-readable CAM files, exploded parts diagrams, CAE analysis, step-by-step videos, control codes for automated devices, scaling calculations, the physics of why it works, and the performance and cost analysis vs. industry standards. They’re also promising a user manual that will include the operation procedures, safety, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair.

Isaiah Saxon posted on his blog something on Open Source Ecology.  It reads:

“Our species is defined by our relationship to machines, the countless “extensions of man”, which now completely encase our lives. The quality, style and outcomes of this relationship are of utmost importance to everyone.

The general story is that over the last 10,000 years, mankind increased specialization, scale, and efficiency, which has led to an abundance of nearly everything. We are told, its only a matter of time before everyone lives longer, and wealthier lives.

However, there is a growing desire around the world to fundamentally remix this relationship with machines and specialization.  For example, to increase access, engagement, and understanding. This movement wants to put people at the center in order to democratize and demystify technology.

A few in this movement are fueled by necessity, while others are uncomfortable with passive consumption, while others seek out fun. The DIY ethic unites them. Their banner is Open source appropriate technology OSAT.

OSE’s next step in 2012 is to build the next 8 prototypes of the GVCS, focused exclusively on fabrication tools. This “Open Source Microfactory” would make it possible to transform scrap metal into the products of advanced civilization. Currently, to build one of the GVCS machines, you need to order parts online, but the Microfactory would enable DIY production of a majority of those components, including ball bearings, hydraulic motors, electrical generators, microcontrollers, nuts and bolts, and steel tubing.

The lineup of the Microfactory looks like this: CNC Multimachine, CNC Circuit Mill/3d Printer, Induction Furnace, Ironworker, CNC Torch Table, Universal Welder, CNC Lasercutter, Hot Metal Roller.”

The science fiction author Robert Heinlein once said “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Isaiah Saxon resumes: “The GVCS is distinguished from the other DIY projects in that it seeks to create an entirely new, integrated ecology of machines. Their thinking is that we can’t always rely on fixing old stuff, and old stuff is different wherever you go. Decisions regarding which machines to include in the GVCS are made using a rigorous selection matrix that skews towards robust utility and the fulfillment of necessities.

Their design methodology emphasizes user serviceability and heirloom strength. Remember, its the 50 machines that it takes to build civilization from scratch and scrap.

A lot of people think this is ridiculous and overly ambitious. It is. It’s a big, hairy, audacious goal.  They’ll need more project managers and more full-time leaders like Marcin. Ironically, their first sign of real success might be to see the plans being used in cheap Chinese factories.

Whatever happens, I think there’s a lot being discovered by this project. Can people from all over the world come together over the internet to recreate their relationship to industrial machines? We’ll shall see.” End of quote

Let us not be blinded by these beautiful missions: It is the political system and structure that brought about our current civilization.  All the DIY alternative projects will revert to the same social structure if political systems are not reformed and revisited.

Most probably, the DIY missions might be catalyst to quicker review of political structures by the possibility of pressuring current industrial and business systems into further participatory projects and extending more decision powers to the workers and employees…

Reforming election laws for wider representation of all citizens and minority groups, and facilitating the voting procedures and the candidacy processes for public jobs should be the primary focus. All these reforms will be taken seriously after financial and economic pressures are concentrated on the 10% elite class in every society…

Note: Open Source Ecology founder, Marcin Jakubowski, is a Princeton graduate and earned a PhD in fusion energy.  He spends his time in the muddy trenches of a cold farm in the middle of nowhere, fabricating, farming, and building. He is entirely and unyielding concentrated at this project




December 2011

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