D4R Vienna


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This presentation is about self-organization as a strategy for building a resilience society.

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  • Here's the text of Neal Gorenflo's talk at the Viennese Talks About Resilience & Networks May 27, 2010:


    Design 4 Resilience. D4R. The Design 4 Resilience Movement. What’s this all about? Before I explain, let me make some promises to you:

    -I will not ask you to sign a petition with clipboard in hand

    -or invite you into a van for a bowl of lentil soup

    -or ask you to join a drum circle or carry a sign

    If the idea of a movement makes you even a little uncomfortable, then you’re not alone.

    But I am slowly warming up to the idea of movements, because we need them. And the best part about D4R is that you don’t have to join! All you need to do is apply resilience thinking in your work and share what you learn. That’s it.

    And that’s what I’ll do with my talk. I’ll tell you a little about how D4R got started, then share with you a line of thinking I’m working on as publisher of Shareable Magazine, which is an online magazine about sharing and the commons.

    So a little history…

    D4R emerged from conversation between Harald, myself, and others over the last year about the converging global crises, and how to respond. The conversations were peppered with some unpopular ideas, ideas that challenged conventional sustainability thinking, which we felt was way off track.

    What was missing from our regular San Francisco-Vienna Skypes was a framework that organized our ideas into a coherent world view.

    Harald started using resilience thinking in his work. He introduced me to the ideas, and I saw the explanatory power. It filled a lot of gaps in my understanding how the world works, it linked social and ecological systems into a whole, and it was liberating because it helped me accept the cycles of life.

    We were getting so much out of these conversations that Harald had the idea that we should take our conversations public to learn more and explore applications of resilience in new domains.

    So our San Francisco-Vienna Skypes became resilience events. I cohosted the first D4R on April 10th in Berkeley.

    Several participants of the first D4R Berkeley have introduced resilience thinking in their domains. Today is the second D4R event. And I there’s a going to be a resilience event in Vienna next year as well.

    That’s the extent of the movement.

    OK, now I’d like to share with you how resilience thinking is shaping my work by exploring self-organization as a strategy to weather the transition from late K onward and put down a foundation for a new, more adaptive civilization.

    SLIDE: The Toyota Jevons

    As you can see, I’ve renamed the Toyota Prius after Jevons Paradox.

    For those who don’t know, Jevons Paradox has to do with efficiency. People generally believe that a good way to conserve a resource is to consume it more efficiently. The paradox is that this has the opposite effect. Efficiency gains in resource use increases the rate of consumption.

    I showcase the Prius because it’s the perfect symbol of our misplaced faith in technology and efficiency as solutions to social-ecological problems.

    Let’s review the facts:

    -in addition to increasing resource use and pollution instead of decreasing it
    -it’s expensive at a time when money is tight
    -it’s so complicated that even Toyota can’t reproduce the errors its customer report little lone fix them
    -Toyota recalled almost a half million of them because of braking problems caused by software. Brakes that rely on software?
    -and for Toyota to keep their stock price up, they have to increase sales volume. They’d love to sell everyone a Prius.

    Toyota obviously did not use resilience thinking here. And when something so backwards is the symbol of progress, it’s a sign that we recognize the problem but the game has not changed yet.


    But I shouldn’t pick on Toyota because they are no different than any player in the global economy.

    And they mirror the global economy itself. Just as Toyota must grow sales to keep its stock price up, the economy must grow to maintain our wealth.

    Remember that the value of stocks is based on a future stream of earnings, and that the biggest corporations in the world are obligated to maximize shareholders returns, all of which motivates companies to grow continually.

    This is also true of other forms of conventional wealth. Take real estate. If a local economy tanks, the real estate market goes with it.

    If we continue to stimulate the economy, we risk ecological and economic collapse.

    If we slow economic growth, the economy could collapse and wipe our wealth.

    In either case, wealth as we currently know it will disappear because its habitat is a growth economy and growth will end whether we end it voluntarily or not.

    Financial wealth as we know is a wasting asset. In breakdown, cash loses value so it’s invested in productive assets. This is when you use your nest egg to buy a hen that lays real eggs.

    Perhaps this is what we should do as a civilization.

    So how do we invest this wealth before it disappears? What investments should we make as a species to reduce the risk that we cross a threshold from which we can’t return?

    This is an important question because how we invest the stored energy from the K phase exploitation will determine how gracefully we transition through the Omega and Alpha phases. Do we struggle but come out stronger? Or do we choke?

    And the challenge is this, a bunch of problems have to be solved at once, they can’t be solved individually. We face a systemic problem. We need a fundamental restructure of our economy and new patterns of living to get different results.


    So let’s explore self-organization as a strategy for the global challenge I just outlined.

    Let’s start by talking about the Internet. So this is part of a network visualization of the Internet, the first ever human-made global commons.

    The Internet is easy to take for granted now that’s mainstream, but its potential as a platform for self-organizing has just begun to unfold.

    The net would not be possible if people did not share labor, code, and infrastructure. No one owns it or runs it. It’s built and it operates on open source software and open standards. Data travels over networks and is routed through servers owned by many different people and organizations who share transport and routing duties.

    Through it’s runaway success, it is the archetype for organizing life in the 21st century in the same way that the corporation was in the late 20th.

    We have mainly seen its impact on information intensive industries, but that is changing rapidly.

    We’ve just entered a new phase where the infrastructure and self-organizing logic of the Internet are being used to restructure our material reality.

    A new economy, culture, and patterns of living are emerging. In other words, what needs to happen may already be happening.
    The trick might be to simply support the innovations that help people self-organize and create an environment where more such innovations can emerge.

    So the rest of my presentation is a quick tour of this frontier, and a speculation about the type of economy that maybe coming together.

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D4R Vienna

  1. 1. D4R Movement?
  2. 2. The Toyota Jevons
  3. 3. <ul><li>Wealth = Growth </li></ul>Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zkorb/
  4. 4. Euro: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EURO-Symbol.jpg Earth:   www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/2222548359/ Capitol: www.flickr.com/photos/heypaul/1428909/ Many problems or systemic problem with many symptoms?
  5. 5. Self-Organization Credit:: flickr.com/photos/pbarry/976719
  6. 13. <ul><li>The New Wealth: </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Contribution </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Experience </li></ul>
  7. 14. <ul><li>cloud computing </li></ul><ul><li>cloud living </li></ul>
  8. 15. Maker Faire -Open source stuff -2010 attendance: 160K -3d printers -game controllers -tractors
  9. 16. Bug Labs -Open hardware company -Sells components for makers to use -Makes creating electronic devices something akin to playing with Legos -Basis to create nearly any electronic devise -Community shares designs, software, and knowledge
  10. 17. PUNK / DIY GOV “ The gov’t today announces a “mutual manifesto” as it unveils plans to allow people to own and run a plethora of local services…”
  11. 18. Open Government Credit: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DpwgzhCaAJFsmF9wt1mVgw Open Gov. Directive / 12/8/09: each dept. in executive branch of gov’t data sets, page, and participation.
  12. 19. elinorostrom.indiana.edu / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Holling http:// de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yochai_Benkler http://www.uvm.edu/~ikubisze/files/Solutions/seminar/Daly.jpg New Intellectual Foundation Being Laid
  13. 21. Scale of Self-Organization <ul><li>4.6B cell users / 1.8B net users </li></ul><ul><li>Economic impact of net in US: $1.4T </li></ul><ul><li>US NPO donations up 2X to $303B btw 1987-07 </li></ul><ul><li>Open source software worth $387B </li></ul><ul><li>Microfinance is a $25B market </li></ul><ul><li>11K worker coops started in last 30 years </li></ul><ul><li>Social investing to grow to $500B </li></ul><ul><li>1.5M posts are shared on FB each day </li></ul><ul><li>Net: http:// internetworldstats.com/stats.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Phone: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone </li></ul><ul><li>Rest: http://shareable.net/blog/10-ways-our-world-is-becoming-more-shareable </li></ul>
  14. 22. What’s Possible <ul><li>Relatively stable urban-based service economy </li></ul><ul><li>Access vs. ownership radically reduces resource use, CO2 & increases access to resources </li></ul><ul><li>Business as utilities w/ modest LT returns </li></ul><ul><li>Service economy w/ reduced hours broadens employment & reduces wealth disparities </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens get lower fixed costs, more time, diverse sources of support </li></ul><ul><li>Lifestyle of relationship, self-determination, education, expression, contribution </li></ul>
  15. 23. open is the brightest green Call to action: Distribute power & wealth. Commons at every scale.
  16. 24. http:// shareable.posterous.com / Start at .49 End at 2:25 AB 1871
  17. 25. http:// shareable.posterous.com / End at 1:33 1,500 Enterprises That Help People Share