online: 3 september 2004
modified: 31 august, 1, 7 september 2004

29 august 2004 improving the world?

19:07 Seat overlooking wooded valley.

If there can be right thoughts and actions at the scale of what is wrong in the industrialising world (capable of putting things right, of improving industrial life), what are they?...

...economic, military, political, terroristic, educational, scientific, industrial, designerly, literary, poetic, religious, legal, entertaining, commercial, financial, fiscal, sporting, computernetual, or w-h-a-t ?...*

...Of what type, what scale, and initiated by whom and with what motives?

Something tells me to attempt to answer most of these questions and act accordingly - and the necessary change will be in progress!

3 paragraphs ago I named 18 types - probably all are necessary - so I select just 2 of them by chance:

the random number generator selects 4, 'terroristic', and 15, 'financial'...

...these two tell us to 'frighten' and to 'spend money' - employing fear and greed. But I don't believe that good ends can come of bad means...

I look up and see a man and a woman shooting small arrows at each other from small bows - in a friendly way. An obselete weapon revived as a harmless game.... and I take that as a clue!

I look up again and see 3 vapour trails in the stratosphere and 2 aircraft at lesser heights... and now I see a 3rd aircraft emitting a new vapour trail...

what does that suggest? Peaceful uses of vast energies, the transformation of nature (enabling people to fly). Better means and motives but with destructive side effects, not intended but very difficult to reduce without fear bribery and such... (once the transformation of reality exists, as airlines etc. with careers and travel habits within them).

I pause again to ask this piece of world to act as oracle, to widen and strengthen these thoughts to the point of effective rightness, of action 'at the scale of what is wrong' and in the form of what is right...

My foot is on a paving slab that someone broke into 4 pieces - perhaps to make a camp fireplace - perhaps for the joy of destruction... (but the keepers have reassembled it)...

...It's getting too dark to continue so I'll complete this somewhere else...

*On re-reading the list of 18 qualities I feel I must add 'musical', if not others - aware that musical form can foreshadow the political.

31st day of the month of the Roman Emperor Augustus... writing indoors on the desktop computer, in touch with softopia...

...Dissatisfied with yesterday's answers I ask again what action could put things right in this world that we are industrialising, and seemingly destroying... and perhaps destroying ourselves also?

The question is huge, outside the range of my intention (which was to start a company able to make some modest improvements at the scale of what's wrong)... and it's probably beyond what is possible... And besides, none of these questions inspire or even interest me directly, as do for instance the skies, the trees, the people, animals and insects... and the surrounding city...!

Ah... that I feel is the clue! To insist on rephrasing and answering these abstract questions in ways that connect with my thoughts and interests and surroundings ...

Re-reading all this I notice that the bows and arrows, the broken paving slab, and yes the vapour trails (if left by high-flying military aircraft) are not only accidentally but intentionally destructive - so is this what has to change, what Caesar Augustus (and all rulers, all governments, all managements) were or are up to, the use of power to force others to 'do right' or to do what a minority wish? Armies, terrorists, police, laws, markets... these are all uses of force... I suspect that I have up to now not faced this dilemma, that of trying to do good without use of force, or wrong means. This is surely the moment for all of us to attempt it, or at least one or two of us, as stories if not yet as worldly actions!

My thoughts turn to M K Gandhi and I find this wishful story on the back cover of one of his books:
The Village and the World
In the future set-up we shall have only two things, the village and the world... the village will have power to order its own life... We may have the names of countries on the map for the sake of convenience, but in reality there will be no intermediary between the world and the village... The power of moral advancement of the whole world will rest in the world centre.... Human society will be organised on the basis of small village communities of, say, 2 to 3 thousand souls each. There would be real fraternity and co-operation... there would be no private ownership, The village will be a model of corporate life... (from Bhoodan, 8-9,'62, by Vinoba Bhave, the saint-like disciple of M K Gandhi.)
But, as I type out parts of this dream, I see that it mentions no way of connecting the whole with the part, no credible alternative to hierarchy and power and specialisation...

So I look now at a chance-selected page in softopia:

designing as people

I believe that the eventual future of design, design research, and of all other specialised professions, is to disappear - to be replaced by the diffusion of these activities from design offices, universities, or other centres of specialised work, to all of us as users, as citizens, as people, enabled by computernets to practice and to learn most of the creative skills of our former professional selves in the continuous redesigning-while-using-and-living of the changing forms of our (consciously or spontaneously) co-designed culture. What a mouthful - and what a change!

A precedent for this is the open source movement for the shared development of software by people, all of whom are both users and makers of it.

(from a post-industrial breakfast)

And now?

There seems to me only one way:
to begin the exploration of what I've called softopia, initially in stories, and as internetual reality

without force
with computernet
of course.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

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