[FoRK] mass adoption of practices

rob van kranenburg kranenbuster at gmail.com
Sun Mar 1 02:50:24 PST 2009

cheers! Rob

Mass adoption of practices

We have ten years to European prisons. That is our timeframe. It is quite
short.  Few people can actually see that distance. There is no time to
explain, but there is time to fire up, accelerate and build the hardware and
the infrastructure that is need to sustain the mass adoption of practices -
no more 'revolution', but the simple everyday adoption of informal
trajectories - metis style - of a broader group of citizens.

I've heard some amazing stories day before yesterday from a friend who is
going to Detroit soon. She was there before a while ago and it seems the
situation in the inner cities is that whole blocks are deserted and given
back to community farming, actually houses stacked with hay in the heart of
the auto beast. Take Back the Land liberates another home for another family
in Miami: http://takebacktheland.net/
And is going national.

States are very much aware that they will go down. They know they are
Emperor's clothes. In Europe they have no more money of their own, no more
law (85% and rising out of Brussels) and have privatized all their services.
Still they collect 40% of our income as tax. What for? Why should you keep
paying for what will soon be your very own prison? Asked by the Dutch
Ministery of Justice - giving input to the National Terrorism Agenda - who
or what the biggest threat was to the Netherlands, I could not help but say:
you. You know you have to dismantle yourself, get them buildings flat,
spread them out horizontally through the network. For all I care you give us
a civil servant every ten people. But you got to go, you have outlived your
purpose and the violence you have spread, ah the violence and the stupidity.

Dennis Blair, new US head of national intelligence has recently said the
biggest threat to US national security is no longer Al Quada, but the credit
crisis. The credit crisis means poor people. No wonder that we see a trend (
also in UK and Europe) towards the militarization of the police. Trouble is
brewing and the powers that still be and are harnessed in charades of
democracy will clamp down hard. The end user disciplining that has been
going on in the Western world: regulations of personal health: smoke here,
not there, do not make a phone call in your car!, regulation of people flows
through a complete visual grid of surveillance cameras with face recognition
software, regulation of identity through soon to be mandatory fingerprint id
to go online or start up your mobile (end of p2p) and all in the name of
...you. To protect...you. From what I begin to wonder? I can not recall
having asked for this reduction of the real, for these much too nice
mediations of layers of fear of people afraid of losing their privileges,
bonuses, futures. Dennis Blair has been reading no doubt this new report by
the U.S. Army War College that talks about "the possibility of Pentagon
resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil
unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on
beleaguered banks. "Widespread civil violence inside the United States would
force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend
basic domestic order and human security," said the War College report. The
study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among
possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S."
(Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks December 19, 2008)

And we can no longer fix our own cars. That is (paraphrasing David Brin) an
act of war. We are in the middle of outsourcing the little agency we have
left to proactive homes, sensor networked cities that we have no control
over, standards to tags, sensors and spectrum policies that are ruled by
logistics and retail. Though the momentum is ours,  it is wide open, there
is  big chance that we will be left with the ability to twitter, watch
movies on youtube and use creative commons licences for our mobile 4G blog
posts. Big deal. We can twitter, no longer talk.

Eastern Europe first, but also the US can go down Argentina 2001-2 style
pretty soon. Eastern Europe is pegged to the euro. That was the reason the
breakdown was so serious in Argentina (to the dollar). But that breakdown
also brought new opportunities, a mass adoption of new practices. Western
Europe will be in turmoil the next 5 tot ten years because the middle class
pulls the plug and starts to organize their own networks, abandoning the
cities to the 180 nationalities that makes up for example Rotterdam (with
over 50% of  the inhabitants of 'foreign' descent).

So what do we do? Hold our breath? None of us is in this for the violence.
Something I think, you better shut up Rob, Cassandra you. Interestingly the
friends I tell this story all shrink back. They have children. I can relate
to them not wanting a future of troubles, challenges, hardship, civil war.
After a discussion last week in the Bijlmer (flatstation.nl), Mufti 'urged
me to relax'. He told me that I was seeing a kid near a pond very far away.
I could not reach it, just see it. I was thinking it would jump, or fall in.
But maybe, maybe Mufti said, maybe it can swim. That is so. But maybe, I'm
thinking, maybe it can not swim. But still, Mufti is dead right on all the
other counts.

For the past ten years or so I have been giving input to government studies,
the Dutch Board of Culture (mediawisdom policy paper), the Board of all ICT
Dutch based companies, politicians and very senior government officials. I
have been doing that as I wanted them to realize the seriousness of the
situation, their responsibility in having to open up. I stopped short of
begging. I could even do that. Democracy as we know it is born out of stolen
money and colonial violence, yes, but also on Enlightenment and a genuine
concern for as most people possible. I hate to see it go.

Yet, we cannot always go back to our shelter from the storm, in our inner
Emigration, withdraw in our own scenarios. One day we have to imagine the
real and walk right into it. Bang our heads. I'm begging my head now. And I
'm moving it of my shell, gently at first. But I will not be fooled again.

The situation in Argentina in 200-2001 unleashed  a human potential for
creativity in organizing that amazed everyone, including the protagonists.
Rodgers (Crisis States Research Centre) in November 2005:

."..people bypassed politics as usual”,because they were characterised by a
highly personalised  “politics of informality” that “undermined the working
of the state as a set of formalised  institutional procedures” for
representing political voice. Ana Dinerstein claims that in the wake of this
“crisis of representation”, Argentina became a  “political laboratory”, as
an unprecedented groundswell of bottom-up mobilisation led to a  range of
“alternative” forms of political participation aiming to transform the
nature of  Argentinean political culture and society. These included
asambleas populares (spontaneous neighbourhood assemblies), clubes de
trueque (barter clubs), empresas recuperadas (worker-  occupied
enterprises), and piqueteros (organised groups of unemployed). In the three
years since December 2001, however, the first three have either disappeared
or steadily declined, while most instances of the latter have become
institutionalised as a new form of political clientelism. This suggests that
none constituted a sustainable mode of alternative political

The reason?

"As one member of the PB Central Technical  Coordination team remarked in an
interview on 19 August 2003:

Personally, I think that one of the greatest problems we’ve had has been
with the  minimal diffusion of information about the whole process… This is
something that can be seen in every neighbourhood, you find that the level
of knowledge about PB that the average inhabitant has is really quite
minimal. We’re constantly trying to get more information out there, but
there hasn’t been a proper campaign or anything… One of the things I really
feel, and this is my personal opinion of course, is that for one reason or
another we haven’t properly exploited certain channels that because they’re
in the government’s hands would be very easy to make use of in order to
effectively communicate on a very large scale, for example by including
something on PB (Participatory Budget, RvK) in the information bulletins
that all the kids in state schools receive at the beginning of the year to
give to their parents… or also by advertising on the GCBA’s radio station,
or the new television station that it now has as well… The radio in
particular is particularly galling, as we’ve had almost no airtime at all on
it, and what little that we’ve had has been because I know a lot of people
there and I’ve pass on certain things to them informally… Logically you’d
want this kind of informing of the population to be formalised.”

In his study in Physical Review Letters, Sven van Segbroek of AI Lab, VUB
shows how solidarity is fostered and engendered by diversity. Diversity
brings on social networking. A balance will show up between people who are
extremely good at networking and those who give it up with the first
negative experience. Because the possibilities for social networking are
exploding exponentionally it is a safe prediction that solidarity will also
grow. The Argentine example shows that the logical limit to this diversity
in content and formats is infrastructure, the hardware itself. This is - for
me - one of the key reasons that bricolabs (www.bricolabs.net) is about the
loop of open content, software and hardware. To make sure that we can
facilitate community radio and communications, projects like the bricophone
are key.
Yet apart from setting up parallel systems, building a solid body of
knowledge from scientific, traditional and artistic embodied knowing on
everyday living, dignities and applications ( open source toilet, washing
machine, scooter...) it is vital that we engage in high level consultancy
with governments, EU and large corporations. There is money ( slower money)
to be made in a fully open infrastructure of smart and connected things,
homes and cities. All over the world current governments, maffia's and gangs
will start resembling each others even more soon, if they do not give up
their laws, violence and patents. History has shown that failure to
recognize this has always resulted in higher disciplining and violence. Then
the people break that. It is not too late that negociate us out of that
scenario. Renegociating connectivity means asking ourselves from the ground
up to the GPS, what kind of connectivities do we want and how green,
scavenging and open do we want them? We may even have to renegociate tcp/ip
for a while and work with fully local protocols that do not connect to a
global network, in order to gain full granularity of the experience of
dialogue and communication. The expertise should go to the middleware and
the unique keys that every citizen on the planet can receive in order to
talk to other localities.

note: the term 'mass adoption of practices' was coined by Derek Freeman in a
workshop at Access Space, Sheffield.

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