A thought capsule from Eric Hunting:
“I’ve been pondering lately the question of alternative resources and how they might be sought, catalogued, and developed.
One of the often overlooked aspects of P2P is that it was founded in the discovery of a global resource overlooked by the market. That resource was passion and its margin of human productivity untapped by most corporations because of their essential inability, within the context of simplistic Taylorism, to understand the nature of human motivation and potential productivity. Discovering this resource and the digital technology to collectivize it on global scales has catalyzed a cultural revaluation of labor and lifestyle, hinting at the prospect of a kind of social equity outside the worldview of the conventional economy that could become the basis of a new, progressive, fairer, social, alter-economy and alter-infrastructure.
But we’ve run into something of a roadblock because there are practical limits to this social resource despite its vast scale. This problem is illustrated by the complications of transitioning the Open Source model to Open Hardware and initiating with this alter-economy new alternative subsistence infrastructures. The market encloses so much of the world and its conventional resources and complicates attempts to create new communities that don’t play by its rules by driving them to the periphery of the civilization. So often obsessed with an idea autarky, these communities struggle to be sustainable. Autarky isn’t quite plug-and-play yet.
But if the market overlooked one great resource, why not others? In fact, the market overlooks or ignores many potential resources that can’t fit its Industrial Age production and economic paradigms and they lie scattered all around us. All waste is resources that lack a practical technique for their utilization. And the market generates so much waste that it has become a global environmental catastrophe. It would seem a fair suggestion that there’s enough stuff thrown away by our civilization to sustain a whole other civilization. And then there are the renewable resources–solar, wind, tidal energy and biological production–not only overlooked but actively suppressed by the market because they could not be exploited through scarcity. Futurist Marshal Savage proposed the bootstrapping of the world’s biggest space program and the catalyzing of a Post-Industrial civilization by the organized exploitation of just the renewable resources associated with OTEC. (ocean thermal energy conversion) He described renewables as; “coming to the poker table of the global market like a player with a hose spewing chips up his sleeve.”
The core idea of the original Urban Nomad movement was that a new culture could emerge and sustain itself through the exploitation of the detritus of the declining Industrial Age civilization. It was from this that the idea of ‘upcycling’ emerged. This idea has long fascinated me. As a kid, I was very interested in stories of other civilizations hidden in our midsts; The Littles, The Borrowers, The Rescuers, The Secret of HIMH, and, of course, the faeries of folklore. Secret cultures that functioned, more-or-less, by appropriating, recycling, and hacking the cast-offs of human civilization and the many overlooked and out-of-sight spaces in our built habitat.
Recently, we’ve discovered an overlooked resource very much like this. The Tiny House, shedding, and friggebod movements have emerged around this. It’s the discovery that, in many places in the world, conventional building regulations don’t apply to buildings below a certain scale. By applying clever design, new technology, and new lifestyle models we can exploit this to afford comfortable, highly adaptive and personalized, even mobile or portable housing while avoiding the exploitation of the housing finance industry. This is incredibly disruptive when you consider just how much human productivity is being wasted on mortgages today and how much the limitations of mortgage fungibility limit people’s mobility and lifestyle options. This also affords a potential to create many kinds of micro-industrial/agricultural facilities that can aid in production demassification and localization while creating new alternatives to the corporate job market. Maybe we don’t need to go to the edge of the wilderness to build alternative infrastructures if we can go tiny and network.
What other resources like this can we identify today? How might we characterize their logistics? What technologies are needed to exploit them? How can we protect them from being enclosed by the market as we develop them? How can we network them into larger infrastructures? What new means of transportation and distribution are needed? What sorts of ‘firewalls’ can we develop between the market and the alter-infrastructure in order to exploit it to our ends, bringing that firehose spewing chips to bear on it?
Perhaps we should think like The Littles, cultivating an insurgent, guerrilla, civilization. That’s why I’ve come to name my nomadic eco-village project Guerrillaville. It’s motto is; “There is no need to be upset.”