Re: [unrev-II] Themes: OHS / DKR vs. Design Science

From: Paul Fernhout (
Date: Thu Nov 23 2000 - 06:43:42 PST

  • Next message: Peter P. Yim: "RE: [unrev-II] Fellowship/Media Event"

    [As I wait for a Thanksgiving celebration...]

    Let us be thankful for this great UnRevII discussion group.

    Henry van Eyken wrote:
    > After my own heart, Paul. To be sure, I am looking less at the space thing
    > you have been nudging than at the spirit in which you embedded your ideas on
    > the subject.

    Thanks for the note. I agree the spirit in this sense is more important
    than the specifics. There are many, many sustainable technology type
    projects possible. I woudl not want to discourage anyone from doing more
    doable things in their backyard and local community. Obviously Rene
    Dubois coined good advice when he said: "Think Globally, Act Locally,
    Plan Modestly".

    However, I do still maintain (as I have for over fifteen years) that
    certain problems focus the mind more on fundamentals. For me space
    settlement is one such problem (building a garden simulator was

    In this case, I think creating self-replicating habitats for humans and
    other organisms out of sunlight and asteroidal ore (or seawater,
    landfill, lunar rock, etc.) is a challenge worthy of more effort because
    it is a "fundamental" challenge. It requires one to master Design
    Science: "A rigorous, systematic study of the deliberate ordering of
    components in our Universe which Buck minster Fuller believes should be
    comprehensive for a global perspective when pursuing the solutions to
    problems humanity is facing as a whole."

    Studying and attempting to solve this problem may actually yield more
    valuable results both on Earth and in space than piecemeal approaches to
    manufacturing design. This is because as a "fundamental" problem, it
    challenges all our notions of how to make things -- and thus it forces
    one to think "synergistically" (another Fuller term). This is similar
    to how NASA's Apollo rocketry program helped spur advances in materials
    and microchips.

    Sadly, this effort (asteroid mining, self-replicating space habitats)
    mainly relies on limited private funds because frankly NASA politics
    have in the past not prioritized such efforts (although a couple studies
    have been funded)

    > Lewis and his colleagues are already
    > hard at work on the first part. For the past
    > two years, they have been developing a
    > prototype that would separate metal and
    > water from other asteroidal material.
    > [Snip]
    > But Lewis insists that potential
    > payoff far outweighs the remaining
    > unknowns. If you take the same sixty billion
    > dollars and invest it in asteroid mining, he
    > maintains, the results would humble ISS's
    > backers.

    A related NASA study from the early 1980s (Advanced Automation for Space
    Missions) is availalbe at:
    That link appears to be temporarily down, see:

    I still maintain we can't talk about far off problems and not look at
    far off solutions.

    However, for people who don't like the space part, just think about the
    issue of mining a landfill to create a new city (that can make more

    You wrote:
    > During the productive years of our lives, the middle years, we typically
    > are:
    > a. breadwinner (for profit, i.e. maintenance of self and dependends and,
    > through taxes, society)
    > b. family person, shepherding offspring and relatives (for love and duty)
    > c. citizen (for love and duty)
    > d. private person (for self-maintenance and growth)
    > In the "c" category we find contributing to good works and the furthering of
    > ideals, such as Doug's.
    > Without wishing to put too sharp a delineation on things, unsavory conflicts
    > arise when excessive zeal in the "a" category (unbounded predatory profit
    > motive) and in the "d" category (hedonism) cannibalizes the time and efforts
    > of oneself and of others in the "b" and "c" categories. Without "b" and "c"
    > we have no society worth living in, only a hiearchy of subservience or
    > slavery.

    Very well put. I especially liked your comment on what makes a society
    worth living in.

    I had a friend who was a countess who survived being a refugee after
    WWII after losing her family's estate of nine or so castles. She kept on
    her mini-fridge door the statement in black magic marker on a battered
    but thick piece of paper "life must be made worth living". So, to
    conjoin these two sentiments for our purposes in terms of social policy
    as: "Society must be made worth living in".

    Or to mix in some philosophy from John Gardner's book "Self Renewal: The
    Individual & the Innovative Society",
      Short review down the page at:
    "Society must continually be remade worth living in by each generation."
    John Gardner might argue that rather than focus on "bootstrapping" one
    should focus on "renewal". Although, in this day and age (of Moores law)
    I might think the two are intertwined.

    One thing I find enlightening when you look at how people apply wealth
    (take for example Chappaqua, NY or Princeton, NJ) is that (among other
    things) they often try to make safe and supportive environments for
    their children to grow up in (or to spend the money it takes to live in
    places deemed to have such qualities). It is a sad commentary on the
    reality of trying to achieve such results in America apart from making
    all of society better (or leading a balanced life) that a realtor told
    us Chappaqua, NY has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the
    country (he said that by way of bragging about what "good" schools it
    had). This is an example of what happens when the concept of
    synergistics is denied or ignored (synergy: the behavior of whole
    systems not predictable from the behavior of separate parts.).

    I like to think of the issue you raise regarding relative zeal for
    different categories as "balancing the many senses (or levels) of self".
    That is, an individual is selfish as a body, as (part of a) a family, as
    (part of) a community (or several), as (part of) a nation, as (part of)
    a world. We need to balance (or prioritize) all those competing
    definitions of "self" and the related demands they place on our time.
    Ideally, intelligence and wisdom can choose a path that allows all these
    (nested) selves to be in harmony. I would hope augmented intelligience
    such as from using an OHS / DKR might help with finding or creating a
    harmonious (synergistic?) path.

    > It looks to me that your sense of applying OHS/DKR to design science fits
    > well within Doug's ideals.

    Thanks. I see almost three aspects here represented by people:

      The communications/tool aspect -- OHS / DKR -- Doug Engelbart

      The content aspect -- Design Science -- Buckminster Fuller

      The organization aspect -- Chaordic Commons -- Dee Hock

    By the way, new stuff is afoot on the Chaordic Commons: "Terra Civitas"
    > An invitation to participate in forming
    > a self-organizing, self-governing global community
    > dedicated to developing, disseminating and implementing
    > new concepts of organization that result in more equitable sharing
    > of power and wealth, improved health, and greater compatibility
    > with the human spirit and biosphere.

    I think if we can combine Doug's vision of an Augmenting communications
    technology with a Chaordic organization talking about Design Science
    content, we may really have something capable of helping humanity
    survive and prosper despite (or because of) Moore's Law.

    Obviously Doug's vision of "bootstrapping" includes issues of content
    and social organization. I'm just suggesting Bucky and Dee have more
    detailed specific visions of good content and organization -- beyond the
    general notion of a learning organization (becoming a "Walking People"
    of bootstrapping as it were). I would think each of these people would
    agree (or would have agreed) that there needs to be a coevolution of
    organization, tools, and content.

    > Especially bcause of your strong regard for the
    > "b" and "c" categories.
    > Henry

    One can hope.

    Thanks again for the great note.

    -Paul Fernhout
    Kurtz-Fernhout Software
    Developers of custom software and educational simulations
    Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator

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