Sporulation (early draft)

From the wikipedia
a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoa.[1] A chief difference between spores and seeds as dispersal units is that spores have very little stored food resources compared with seeds.
I can't find a quote, but apparently some organisms create spores when the environment starts to get stressful.

Some history

Some 20-30 years ago, I read in the Byte magazine an article, possibly by Jerry Purnelle, about how there where 3 ages in computing: mastodontic computers with priests and air-conditioning (for the few, period), the revolution of the dwarfs (in which we all wanted our own hard disk and pre-laser printer), and finally the network (in which you could be brains or memory or google or a printer of whatever kind, and finally, they say, the internet of things).

Some time after 2005, my own inmersion in catastrophology, surrounded by stuff like The Citizen's Manual (FluWiki), Get Pandemic Ready / Ready Moms, and Gupta's Severe Pandemic [insert links later], gave birth to the idea of The Final Edition. This was to be a compilation of open documentation that would be explicitly made available to newspapers all over the world, so that they would be able to use the last drops of civilization's ink to provide “survival and better” content to everyone, in paper format.

All this is of course part of the idea behind medieval monasteries: you collect important knowledge in safe places, and keep it ready to spread as soon as the outer atmosphere changes again to make new growth possible.

And “stress”, well, it's all around us, no? After all, that's why Monki created the “6 ways to die” for the internet.


There are a few elements in this, so let's sort it out.

Which knowledge? I'd vote for Appropedia (images included), Where there's no doctor, Wireless Networks for the Developing World, and a few other things. When I read “Earth Abides” - in which the main character decides it's not read-and-write skills that will make the most difference, but arrow-and-bow skills, transferred as fun games - I thought I'd include Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking tools. But of course each of us has their preferences [Josef Davies Coates' compilations], and some even have their own specific contribution [Vinay's] that they would like to put out there for others to download [link to Linus Torvald's quote on “real men don't make backups”].

In which format/medium? Computers are thought to be the default place to stick the knowledge into. Some have tried to print the whole of Wikipedia, creating a hardpaper. A combined approach, like The Final Edition idea, is promoted by the “2 pager docs” by Whoever He Is [ask Vinay]: keep it in files, but by all means make it printable just in case. Of course, the availability and size of external drives makes it possible to keep maybe 1 terabyte of data, making copies into other people's disks in a kind of distributed network of sporae (sp?).

Both questions feed on each other, of course.

Next steps

So, what do we do now?

Personally, I'm restructuring my storage into 3 kinds of folders/directories: Private (birthday pictures and the like), Action (getting things done, given that life goes on regardless of perceived risk), Spores (the kind of things I'd share with others in a network of sporulation). A couple of external drives will act as memories. I'll try and convince a few friends of mine to keep copies of at least some things, here and there.

Regarding most issues I'd appreciate your help:

Computers, there are a few, but I'm not sure what to do about energy. Solar panels are not easy & cheap right now. Other solutions, not sure at all. It's an open question.

As for content, I have some ideas, and we could use what Alex suggested: a piratepad instance for a collection of links to the stuff we need.

We need to streamline the whole process: what to keep, how to keep it, how to transfer it to other places, and how to de-sporulate (the “then what” question, which includes “translation”). I'm a newbie, but I'm sure many others have thought deeply about it, so we need to use that, right?


A brief summary in numbers

We'll soon be 7kM = seven thousand million people = 7,000,000,000 personal individuals, pretty much most of us with a soul, uniqueness of POV and feeling, or scientifically acceptable equivalent.

Our life expectancy is in the order of 100 years, not 10 years or 1000 years. So, in rough numbers, with a stable population, 1/100th of us should be born each year, and 1/100th of us should die each year.

Death itself is not optional, but when and how and at whose hands, yes, that's optional.

In fact, according to world statistics, about 60,000,000 of us die every year, and more are born. Of those who die, figures vary, but possibly about a third die before their time, for reasons tightly coupled with poverty.

So poverty is a "20,000,000 individual humans a year" issue. Ten times the population of the islands I live on, wiped out each year because they don't have enough resources, economic or otherwise, to keep themselves alive for as long as I can.

And death is only a marker for what's been called the Life-Really-Sucks Syndrome. So those 20M that die are a reminder of the, what?, 2kM whose lives are shitty?

It's no surprise the mind turns away from this stuff.

The reason, we tell ourselves, is that it's impossible to take that in (and no, numbers don't cut it), and that we can't do much anyway.

So we focus on the immediate issues: we the rich are digging up resources in order to become richer, killing the biosphere and our share of the poor in the process.

So we look at democracy and banking. And we tell politicians and bankers - no, we don't just "tell them" - we tell them strongly, in no uncertain terms, that they should behave. And we clap our ears everytime a leak is wikied, and everytime an annonymous action makes the news or excites our decaffeinated social networks.

Bullshit, mate. Bullshit. And you and I and pretty much everyone in our rich countries know it.

But who are we, if we're looking into numbers? We are the likes of the USA (305M = 305,000,000 people), Europe (500M = 500,000,000 people), Japan (120M=120,000,000) and not many more. That's 925M=925,000,000 people out of 7,000,000,000 = 13% = one in eight.

I know, I know: some in our countries are into relative poverty. Maybe 40M in the USA need food coupons at some point before the end of the month. And Japan has had many villages washed away by the part of the sea, pushed to their homes by the massive Earth that we're supposed to own. And Europe, you and I know it, has the Greek, the Irish, the Rroma.

But I guess there are also, to compensate numbers a bit, rich people in poor countries, so maybe rich people in general are about 10-15%, one in eight, of the whole world's population.

This means that for every one of "us", you and I, there are 7 "others".

So we'd have to give away, and stop using, 6/7ths of our resources? Do we consider it "not solvable and they have to die, like everyone else, but sooner than our age, and their lives suck and that's it"? Is there no other way? And won't they come at us, the healthiest and strongest and most desperate and closer-to-us among them, kindly asking - no, strongly demanding that we give up their share? And won't that strong demand, or our backslash, create the recipe for the kind of struggle that might "kill us all" (whatever that may mean in practice)?

We don't know, mate, we don't know.

But we're all gonna die, said the happily depressed nihilist, so we might as well give it a chance with all our might.

So, here's the challenge. We need to find the ways to:
  • Provide the basics, and then better, for exactly everyone.
  • Stop mining the Earth for non-renewable resources, and even restore the land and its riches.
  • Deal, preventively, with those who can kill us all.
  • Do it soon and unstoppably, starting yesterday.
Now, we're doing numbers here, right? Let's proceed.

We need a basic infrastructure packet for everyone on Earth. At 5 people per hexayurt & associated distributed infrastructure, that's at most in the order of 300 bucks per head = 300 x 7,000,000,000 = 2,100,000,000,000 dollars or euros or whatever. Maybe twice as much if we want no-low-back-pain agriculture and stable cell-phone networks.

That's comparable to the numbers that are being thrown around in terms of debts.

On top of that, we need an atractive infrastructure operating system, one that will make cool life posible. One that will let us work exactly one hour a day if we choose to do so.

That might take longer, but it starts with automated machines that take the soil beneath your feet and turn it into bricks to make homes, build agricultural infrastructure, etc. At a cost in terms of experts' time, and developers' time, that's much less than the wikipedia. At a cost in terms of money that would amount to maybe 2 dollars per person on these islands.

And of course we need to do both, because unfolding a newer operating system doesn't inactivate the previous one's messes. It's not that simple at all.

But it's doable, and we don't do it because we don't want to, or because we don't know how to do it, or most likely because not enough among us want to or know how to do it.

Let me repeat.

Not enough among us want to. And not enough among those who want know how to do it. So we're not doing it.

We're not doing it.

How do we "solve" that? It's an open question. One that invites your answer. Let's take steps and talk with everyone about it until we're moving unstoppably in the right directions. And let's also accept that it won't work.

But build we must.