Talk:The Project

From Organic Design

See also Talk:About and notes for "About2" at Events/19 August 2008 and Events/21 August 2008

Introduction of 2010 version

I think the intro needs to have a more neutral tone; rather that personifying "the agenda" we should think of it as a natural state of affairs that exists because as a species we haven't yet designed a system for ourselves which is in harmony with our nature and environment. As people we're often frustrated and angry about the problems because they're affecting us in our everyday lives, but the documentation should be neutral and devoid of emotion in its descriptions of phenomena and the forces at play.

Summary

If I were to state succinctly those features likely to characterise the next phase of human activity, I should say - a scientific direction of events, voluntary cooperation towards common objectives, with an inherent and acceptable dynamic as the driving force.--Thomas Robertson, 1948, p. 2

There is a project which we refer to simply as "the Project". The way we see it, it is the creation of a societal system in the form of a global bottom-up panarchy that is based on a dialectic monism. For a number of reasons, which we will discuss here, we think it is desirable to create such a society because it holds great potential for peace, justice and prosperity.

The Project, more specifically, is the work of embedding the way of harmony (or "the Way") to which the above quote refers, at the heart of all systems and institutions of society, (or what might be referred to as "the government" or "the socio-economic structure") and at all scales, from personal, to local, regional, national and global. We believe that the key challenge society needs to face is how to express the Way in the systems of governance. To the extent it achieves this, humanity will be able to act swiftly and in unison to bring about justice and peace on Earth.

And who is the "we" referred to here? In terms of the interpretation, the goals and the values that are offered in this document, it is a number of contributors to Organic Design. In terms of who is working on the Project, it is everyone who is expressing through their thoughts and words and actions in alignment with the goals and values described here, even though they might not consider themselves as "working on the Project", nor may they use the term in the same way it is used on Organic Design.

The Project has existed since people have joined together to form societies; it is referred to in ancient texts[1], and from the definition above it follows that work on it is never complete. "The Way", after all, refers to a perfect ideal we may aspire to, but will never reach. At this moment in history, this work needs to be done in a way that allows us to govern at a global scale, but in a way that empowers the local.

Fortunately, there is a growing momentum toward the work on the Project, as well as an increasing number of movements who are contributing parts of the solution. Some are developing technology that will help, others are doing research that can help us see the nature of the task, or the way we may work on it, more clearly. In many ways, the development of the Internet is the key driver and provides the foundation for countless sub-projects that are gradually converging toward something larger. This document, then, is the description of a vision for what that larger thing might be. First, let us look at the development of the Internet in more detail.

New possibilities: The development of the World Wide Web

The development of the World Wide Web is providing platforms for new forms of social organisation, and while there is no roadmap for development, with new "versions of the Internet" being released every so often, as is the case with software, there are some distinct levels of development, each with new applications for Internet technology. This gives rise to terms like web 2, web 3 and beyond. But what do these terms mean?

It is widely accepted among Internet researchers and commentators that Web 2 refers to the "collaborative web". Initially, the World Wide Web comprised html web pages, coded and updated by the web site operators. This phase is now generally referred to as Web 1. New technologies, such as wikis, and the availability of cheap online storage, as well as higher Internet speeds, allowed sites to spring into existence that consisted of collaborative, or user-generated, content. Examples of this are sites like Wikipedia or the photo-sharing site Flickr. Another key Web 2 phenomenon are the social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, with users numbering in the millions.

Currently we are on the cusp of web 3, which heralds the rise of structured and machine-readable web pages. Applications for this include software agents that scour the web on our behalf and dig up good deals or suggest social connections that may be of use.

Web 4 is still an emerging notion (we have yet to grasp the full implications of web 3), so when we discuss it here it is not as a generally agreed-upon term, but rather as an Organic Design definition. We believe web 4 represents the emergence of Web technologies into the world of business and politics, having matured sufficiently to enable new forms of organisation. To us, the next step involves the transformation of the structured web into a distributed, peer-to-peer and open source web. We can see the momentum toward this even now, as multiple component technologies are converging. As more people can see ways that open, distributed and collaborative technologies can unlock the collective creativity and intelligence of humanity, web 4 will be seen more and more as an essential development which will allow humanity to deal with the considerable challenges posed by climate change, economic instability and political deadlock.

It will be a natural development for people to say: "We run projects using this technology, we make decisions, we get stuff done. Why not run businesses like this? Or universities, or factories, or communities?"

Philosophy

All the major spiritual traditions have some key values that are common to them all

  • That all individuals are part of a unified Whole
  • That increasing awareness is a essential path for all individuals

These fundamental common principles can apply in many contexts to act as a guide for making decisions that are best for both the self and the Whole. More specific rules can be derived by considering the meaning of the fundamental principles within different contexts, the meanings with which we're mainly concerned for the manifesto are in the context of the organisational system.

Core values

Here are the fundamental values we believe are necessary for an organisation to be working in accord with the common spiritual principles. For more detail about the fundamental spiritual principles and the reasoning behind using them, and how these organisational values have been derived from them, see core values.

  • Systems thinking - maintaining an ontology of complete description of system, the current organisation's state and its ideal state.
  • Transparency/Openness - ontology (systems aspects, not specific state aspect) is openly available, also available to diverse contexts
  • Completeness - there must be procedures defined in the system to ensure the values
  • Think Globally Act Locally - sphere of influence of individuals should be local/regional, and those local actions accounting for the perspective of the Whole
  • All Aspects Changeable - Completeness really implies this, since the description is collaborative
  • Scale Independence

These values have been applied and adapted to the task of creating prototype bottom-up organisations in accord with current technological trends and developments. The values have more specific names and meanings in the context of applying them to organisations and are presented accordingly. For instance, "awareness" translates to completeness of description and also implies openness in the context of an organisation.

Organisation

Organisation is applied to setting up systems that allow people to use technology to work together, guided by the philosophical values. We would like to see this process give rise to holistic, bottom-up organisations, as described in about the project. The measure of success for such organisations will be the degree to which they improve harmony in society.

In the context of an holistic system, the axiom of awareness refers to the description of the system through which all members gain understanding of it. So the axiom of awareness in terms of systems can act as a compass needle pointing toward ever-increasing accessibility, diversity and openness to the description, and ever-increasing accuracy and objectivity to the information it provides.

This axiom gives rise to a fundamental common "project" that all members use and contribute to, which we call the Geoscope after Buckminster Fullers idea of a common, publicly-accessible view of the world and its state. The Geoscope, as we see it, will continually increase in completeness, in that it seeks to provide a continually-improving and ever more comprehensive view of life on Earth. In the modern world of information, this Geoscope would be a semantic ontology, which is essentially network of concepts described using a universal ontology language. The transformation of the web into web3, which is a currently-occurring global phenomenon, provides the perfect environment in which to collaborate at a global scale on a high-level working description of our resources and systems.

Technology

The technology we use to work on the project and the requirements it needs to fulfill are derived from the philosophy and the organisational values of the project. This guides our choices in terms of technology. Furthermore, in the name of resilience and independence, it's important not to be committed solely to one technology, application, operating system or platform. We believe that the solution is not in what specific applications are used but rather how they are used.

An organisational system is essentially a description, and a bottom-up organisational system is a collaborative description, but any application that the members are comfortable with that allows them to collaborate on their system description will suffice. In our project we've chosen to rely as little on specialised software features as possible, so that our system is applicable to as wide a range of diverse contexts as possible, making our "source code" more open and re-useable. Openness implies not only availability of the source code or documents or systems descriptions, but also the means of putting them into practice and refining them through collaboration. In addition, we consistently strive toward completeness of the shared system and the accurateness of the reported state. The ability of members to assess the true and complete state of the organisation is important for creative tension to arise between theshared vision and the vision they are working toward.

For the work we do here on Organic Design, we will ensure that we are in accord with the movement toward web 3 technology ("Semantic Web"); this also happens to result in technology-independence and re-use. Web 3 technology, specifically the methods for creating an ontology that describes an organisation, gives rise to technology-independence. For instance, if we can easily export a description of our organisation into a common format like OWL and import that into another environment, the work is not lost, we can move into a new technological environment or even maintain operations throughout multiple diverse environments. However, if the focus had been on developing specific technologies, this gives rise to the prospect of lost effort when the move to a new framework needs to be made, or when people in a different environment would like to use the work done so far. A semantic structure would include concepts like people, knowledge or resources and provide means to browse the structure of such content and filter or add new ones.

There are a number of requirements that technology therefore needs to fulfil, these are more important than specific technical details, such as ease of use or pretty interfaces. To be able to set up an organisation that moves toward the core values outlined here, we will need to cover the following areas; the reasons for doing so will arise from the values contained in this document:

  • Collaborative documentation environment, in which the system description and state, as well procedures, can be accessed (Examples: Mediawiki, JOOMLA)
  • Semantic capability of software environment so that the organisation can merge with the global Web3 transformation as it occurs
  • Collaborative management of IT resources, including files and software
  • Ability to keep all members' IT resources running the same systems and up to date (IT Procedures, Linux package management)
  • Bootstrapping capability, the ability to easily utilise existing resources such as computers, and set up the technology from scratch, instating a functioning instance of technology

And how do these principles apply to governance, in the context of the technical advances described above?

Human Ecology and Panarchy

We have based our view of the global level of organisation upon Robertson's 7 layer framework, because he's done an amazing job of expressing the eastern principles within an organisational and objective context. The seven layers are like departments of the global organisation and are as follows:

  • Religion
  • Education
  • Politics
  • Administration
  • Sanctions
  • Industry
  • Finance

Thomas Robertson describes the study of human society as "human ecology", which consists of psychology, economics, political science and sociology - the fields of study generally referred to as the social sciences. He analyses human ecology using a framework of seven human systems, arranged in a hierarchy. He states (1947, p. 41) that our current problems arise from these systems being in the inverted order from what they ought to be. (i.e. finance is at the top instead of religion).

Whereby power flows from those controlling the financial system downward through the subordinate systems. Therefore, financial imperatives override any other goals. This problem is compounded by the fact that this state of affairs is not widely known or discussed, most people believing that the parliamentary democratic system is the seat of power and that in order to bring change, different parties need to be voted for by the populace.

Spirituality

The study of the principles and the discussion of how to apply them, within the context of the golden rule

Education

Politics

The discussion of how societies should be governed and decision-making regarding how resources should be distributed. Based on issues being advocated and finding support rather than election of representatives to decide on behalf of constituents.

Administration

Administration is the organisational system. We believe that organisations at all levels should be using the same general system architecture to be in accord with the core values such that it is recursive, self-contained and scale-independent (i.e. Holonic).[2]

Security

In our current system, the aspects of enforcement and security are covered by the military, private military contractors, police and civil defence, as well as emergency management agencies. A great deal of consideration is given to the problem of how to enforce the regulations of a governing system within the populace. A Panarchy should not require enforcement of its regulations, since the fact that not enough people are adhering to the system would be seen as a problem with the system, resulting in efforts to make it useful to more people. Therefore, the security aspect can focus more on disaster management, community resilience and early warning and mitigation systems required at various levels of society. Sanctions are based on a widespread and clear understanding of the principles, based on the proper functioning of the spiritual system, to the extent that they would be regarded common-sense and people would agree that reducing them to any extent would only increase corruption. Therefore it would be desired to have a system for the testing of the extent of adherence to the principles.

Therefore, sanctions are the mechanism of assurance that any system or organisation is in accordance with the ideals, that is, does it reflect think globally, act locally and are all aspects changeable? This includes the provision of mechanisms for testing the adherence to these ideals. While some people are happy for a company to have values statements, we believe it is necessary to test whether these values are being implemented, which is the equivalent of being on the path, in terms of an organisation. Therefore the ideals are not something that organisations could follow by opinion, rather, they would be like a standard, the adherence to which could easily be tested by any citizen. In terms of security and defence, early warning signals would be the degree to which an organisation is deviating from what all agree to be beneficial. Using this information, the peers of the problematic person or company could work together to find and solve the problem. What is considered a peer would depend on the scale of the problem, in the case of a company it would be the associate companies and trading partners or civil agencies, in the case of a person, workmates or neighbours.

So what are the things we need to be able to test for?

For AAA, testing would involve seeing whether all aspects of the system are in fact changeable. A test like this could be triggered by a problem - e.g., an employee was unhappy about the lack of input she had into workplace conditions. In this case she might be able to use the sanctions mechanism to test whether this aspect of the company is changeable, which might reveal that it is indeed too difficult, which, in turn, would downgrade the company's compliance rating in the public eye.

In the case of TGAL, we need to be able to see whether some entity is trying to make changes at a global (or higher) level, such as a company trying to change the law of a region. We also need to have a way of checking whether we are truly seeing from the global perspective, since this is required even to be able to judge the adherence to think globally, act locally.

What we are really talking about here is a society's ability to allow anyone to objectively judge any public entity's adherence to spiritual principles.

Industry

The system governing the research and development of products and services, as well as the distribution thereof. Such activities are aligned with the decisions of the populations and the spiritual principles. This should not preclude the operation of profitable businesses, however profit would no longer be the key criterion to judge the success of a business.

Finance

The purpose of the financial system is to provide currency to facilitate the flow of goods from producer to consumer, as well as trade. This can be provided by a resource abstraction framework similar to grid, but applied to all resources, allowing for local variations and providing exchange rates for national or international trade.

Implementation

Now that we have discussed an outline of the ideal solution, which projects exist or could be set up to bring about this ideal?

Organic Design

A framework for developing web-based systems toward the realisation of a shared vision as described here.

Business Incubator

A company that develops prototype businesses that represent an alignment with the ideals, which can function successfully (profitably!) in the existing market economy. Multiple organisations would form an ecology that could provide products and services, drawing upon shared infrastructure and working on shared ideals to achieve a competitive advantage.

Platforms and Sanctuaries

P2P Currency

The resource abstraction technology which can provide an alternate system of currency to those who use it.

Learning Organisation

  • Regarding Peter Senge's definition of a learning organisation; we now have a technical means to implement it which didn't exist at the time of his writing "The 5th Discipline" (1994).
  • Senge's notion of the learning organisation is widely regarded in management circles as leading-edge thought, however we have not seen any organisations fully embrace these concepts.
  • In addition to the other criteria, our ideal organisation will embrace and support the implementation of the five disciplines of shared vision, mental models, systems thinking, microworlds and team learning.
  • We will embed these concepts and values within our template organisations because in addition to the technical criteria we want them to be learning organisations.

Political party

A party that represents the goals and values described above and is used as a platform to communicate these ideas, as well as drawing upon the skills of party members to develop and provide the solutions that form the panarchy. This does not aspire to win seats in parliament but rather to represent a new system of governance in a way that is acceptable to the norms and values of members of a parliamentary democracy.

University

  • The notion of a self-contained semantically structured learning organisation will appeal to academics
  • An environment of learning, with experts easily accessible
  • A university which doesn't just teach knowledge, it is an open and evolving organisation with learning happening at all levels, with all participants actively contributing
  • We will align ourselves with universities to in an effort to test these ideas in the academic environment

Related projects and movements

Yes we're quite in to the Venus project, but as with all of them (and ours), they don't cut it alone, they all need to merge so that the best of all of them can become a unified solution. --nad 16:10, 18 October 2010 (PDT)

Acknowledgements

The following people and organisations have provided us with inspiration for moving toward our goal, share our values closely from what we can tell or are even working toward similar goals to the ones we pursue. We wish to acknowledge:

Notes and References

  1. I Ching, Hexagram 64, "The conditions are difficult. The task is great and full of responsibility. It is nothing less than that of leading the world out of confusion back to order. But it is a task that promises success, because there is a goal that can unite the forces now tending in different directions."
  2. For more discussion of this structure, please refer to Panarchy Specification.


Editing notes

I have started using the notes and references conventions as used in Wikipedia for this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Footnotes#noteFoot01 --Milan 23:20, 14 September 2008 (NZST)


So, you are interested in "the project"? As a point of introduction to Peerix, you start anywhere you like, and it can grow into what you are interested in and put energy into. Two places to start are in the philosophical foundations that support the project, and in the actual technical domain.


background/philosophical

we have found that this project only "fit"s with with individuals and companies that are willing to move and change their corporate culture and beliefs:

technical: (how the peerix system will work technically)

--Phalseid 08:22, 4 Nov 2006 (NZDT)


High speed connections are NOT available in much of our global village. Images and other media should always be used when appropriate, not merely to tart up the display! --Phalseid 05:09, 13 Dec 2006 (NZDT) --

hey guys, thought I would throw this out: http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html. We have already expressed our Worldview, Religion, and now, it would be interesting to see our "political" inclination as defined by this quiz. After the quiz (i don't want to spoil what I predict to be your results), check out this link and see if im right.... --Phalseid 00:36, 24 Sep 2006 (NZST)

Nope, I was totally centrist - I couldn't agree or disagree with any of them because they can all be concepts which are done in a very beneficial way, but are currently done in a bad way basically giving the concept a bad name.... --Nad 19:01, 24 Sep 2006 (NZST)
Interesting/Surprised by your results, Aran. What do you think of the Lao-tsu article? --Phalseid 02:41, 24 Sep 2006 (NZST)
I'm quite familiar with the Tao Te Ching and its deeper meanings. I believe non-action is important, but needs to be used in moderation with activity. Structure and government is necessary but must itself work from the bottom up and in accord with the way. Most of the Taoist study that's gone into the foundations of the nodal model have come from the Bagua which was studied by scholars of Taoism, Confusionism and Zen alike, and also Advaita Vedanta which is similarly studied within the many strands of Hinduism.
According to the Bhagavad Gita, the wise see action and inaction as one and the same. --Infomaniac 07:47, 18 October 2010 (PDT)
i have been trying to keep up with your studies, and I found this link a couple of days ago....http://www.skepticreport.com/mystics/bagua.htm. --Phalseid 04:00, 24 Sep 2006 (NZST)
That's like trying to understand astrology by comparing horoscopes from magazines. The ancient knowledge is a very specialised area of interest and study which you need to be prepared to invest many years on. It's more practical studying the modern high level concepts of the project such as distributed architecture and generic organisation etc. If you do want to study the old knowledge, always read the words of the sages directly, not what other "authorative" source say about them. One such sage is Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj who's book "I am that" I've put at,
http://www.organicdesign.co.nz/www/I_am_that.html
Thanks for the link, this is the kind of direction I activly seek! --Phalseid 13:33, 25 Sep 2006 (NZST)


Aran / Milan,

My grandfather, Vladimir Tomek, has a keen interest in The Project, as well as a very good understanding of some of the philosophical issues discussed. Here are some comments below for reflection and further dialogue. A deeper discussion of The Project can be found here Project Discussion --Dan 20:41, 5 Apr 2006 (NZST)

Hi Vladimir, I've answered the questions below and read your document, thanks for you input. Our documentation is indeed currently aimed at specialists - ones like User:Jack who specialises in philosophy and writing, and has begun learning the core algorithm with the intention of making it more generally shareable. The project not about convincing people that its better than competing views or methods, it already has well defined harmonious principles for its development, deployment and growth and is progressing steadily with these things. --Nad 23:38, 5 Apr 2006 (NZST)


Questions:

1. How can one draw a line between tao-chia and tao-chiao, the philosophical and the religious aspects of Taoism? Is it not impossible?
Philosophcal-Taoism is the about class, the ba-gua themselves, religeous-taoism is a partcular context onto which the general principles of the ba-hua have been mapped. Other such mappings of the ba-gua are Tai-chi, Feng-shui and chi-healing techniques.


2. Whose ideas outside Lao Tzu's have been accepted as representative of philosophical Taoism? (Original ideas, not 20th century interpretations.)?
I'm not really a philosophologer, I have only studied specific scriptures in my search for understanding the core algorithm. Most of my Taoist study has been of Chu Hsi and the ten-wings of the Yi. A lot of understanding of these principles has come from Nisargadatta Maharaj, as Advaita vedanta also describes the same system of space-time resulting from the perception-creation cycle.


3. If we select only specific ideas of Taoism as basis for our philosophical outlook, can we still talk about a Taoist network? It is difficult to imagine that there will not be ideas taken from other faiths. Note that your examples of Taoist teaching are rather general.
The project does not believe in naming itself, but provides a naming mechanism for concepts defined within it, including the complete concept of itself, but all names can depend on language, locale and individual preference etc


4. How should we take into account that there is no technique for following the Tao? This must make application in practice rather difficult.
Such words are misleading, in reality the Tao is as easy to learn as any thing, and its growth simply requires a modest effort applied persistently. The process can be accelarated by being complimented by our information systems.


5. Original Taoist ideas of ecology do not conform easily to Western notions of what is important for ecology. How is this taken into account, without using wide-ranging interpretations?
True understanding of every discipline relies on the understanding of the perception/creation cycle


6. What specific Taoist teachings can be used as a basis for the modelling of our approach to ecology?
There are no teachings I am aware of that can easily obtain such knowledge from, it's taken me many years to understand the principles clearly enough to describe them as an algorithm. Our plan is to use the algorithm ability to describe itself in its own terms, to describe itself in our terms.


6. How can be applied in practice such sentences as 'incorporating the Taoist principle of change into the network allow all processes, no matter how large or complex, to be seen by the network in terms of energy', or 'the Taoist network is built in awareness of the cyclic nature of change'?
In practice incorporating this principle involves understanding it clearly enough to program into a computer. The core algorithm which has been developed is freely available, and not very amazing. In fact every part of it is already within other existing data structures which we often link to in Wikipedia such as the Trie data structure. Paradoxically, its power comes from not being as powerful as the others. This lack of power allows for a very simple and symetrical model, which applies to a more generic context by encompasing the fundamental systems
For exmaple our core algorithm exhibits the concept of a list, but unlike normal list concepts ours doesn't have the power to tell you how many items are in it, or how to pick the nth item from the list. But by not being able to do this, our list can be used in a layer more fundamental than that exhibiting the concept of number.


6. How can I Ching be used in ecological considerations? Note that I Ching does not mention Tao.
Its the structure of the hexagrams in the I-Ching and the way those structures and their changes map to the listed meanings that is important. That structure is the key to sustainable organisation, but the I-Ching is not useful to us now that the core algorithm has been developed.
Also, Tao is mentioned using phrases such as "the way of the superior man" - it was an implementation of the Ba Gua designed for the context of politics, and had phrases appropriate to that context mapped to the generic conceptual patterns. The Ten Wings at the back of the Yi are about the Ba Gua and hexagram structure.


7. What help can we get from faithfully translating the principles contained in the I Ching into computer software, thereby creating a uniform network based on ancient Taoist principle of perception and creation?
The help we can get from it is sustainable and scalable organisation freely accessible to all


8. Which are the deep philosophical foundations of Taoism to be introduced into a computer network dealing with ecology?
All the principles are dealing directly with ecology by addressing the fundamental issues such as eternal-sustainability and infinite-scalability - these are the principles that need to be addressed to define the way space-time works. By working with the Way, you work in accord with all things, but any deviation from it results in various problems for the life existing within that context.

Old Sections

Introduction

The Project: The I Ching (Book of Change) is an ancient chinese book which is an implementation of a philosophical system called Bagua (eight symbols) which describes the harmonious flow of nature. This natural flow is named Tao in Chinese and Dharma in sanskrit. The book is a tool used for divination and study, its ultimate purpose is to bring peace and harmony to the world by allowing its users, who were usually those of royalty and power, to make harmonious decisions for the provinces they ruled. The Project is the ongoing implementation of this harmonious way within the many diverse contexts brought by the cultures and times.

Organic Design: Within the context of the informational age, the principles can be implemented in an interactive way which is easily accessible to all the people of any language from the grass roots level up. It's this modern informational implementation of the project which Organic Design has been set up to develop. It's not simply another translation of the I Ching's phrases and metaphors into modern archetypes, but rather the idea of logically defining the principles from which these archetypes were built. This definition is a new kind of computer programming methodology based on the semantic web paradigm which we call the nodal model on which a peer-to-peer collaborative applicational environment is being built.

What the philosophical principles offer to the informational environment is the means to run scalable and sustainable organisations. This is done by simplifying the defining and managing of systems and maximising re-use of resource and knowledge. This will allow us to move beyond the competitive, selfish growth model, which encourages centralisation and makes sharing difficult. Using such an interface, flexible, self-organising networks of people will be able to deliver effective and sustainable solutions.

When people connect directly with other people, and ideas and resources can be connected freely through this network, it will facilitate projects that allow people to cooperate in realising their potential for the benefit of both themselves and the whole of society. We propose that such a network architecture will allow people around the world to collaborate and share resources using a simple and engaging interface.

Sharing of information from person to person on a conceptual level, without geographical or language boundaries, will allow people to create enterprises and projects utilising currently idle resources, by finding others who have the missing resources or skills that are required. The cost of starting up would be greatly reduced due to the far more effective use of idle resources that information sharing makes possible. Also, as more people use this network, their overall requirements can be reduced due to the effects of economy of scale.

The direct sharing of concepts through the network, will ensure that no time is wasted 'reinventing the wheel'. On the level of society this opens the door to increased creativity through people being able to build on each others' achievements, and extend existing knowledge easily.

Other benefits arise from the network's built-in awareness of the cyclic nature of change. Participants' activity cycles can naturally be synchronised, so that organisations and individuals can coordinate their resource usage cycles. Generally speaking, this allows people to achieve more with less. When the activity cycles of all participants are known as well as the potential of all processes to connect with each other, an evolving culture of synchronicity is fostered within the network.

Motivations

There are many massive problems on a global scale that the current political and economic frameworks are not able to effectively resolve. The way we perceive things is that there are self-reinforcing wasteful behaviour patterns in our western societies caused by a values system that encourages endless growth in turnover, products and GDP. Large centralised structures aim to maximise consumption in the populace while isolating people from each other. At the same time, the media makes us aware that a lot is going wrong in the world.

However, there is very little information about what we can do about the injustice or conflicts we are made aware of. In us this gave rise to a feeling of powerlessness and futility. The feeling of futility, or being overwhelmed is there because it is difficult for us to make any informed decision. Not that there aren't plenty of answers around, but we just don't know which ones are making a difference. And furthermore, how much of a difference? Or maybe some solutions are doing good in one area but we are unaware of the problems they're causing in other areas.

On the level of individual people, we could say that it is possible to make satisfying and relatively informed decisions, for instance, by 'following one's heart' and contributing to society to the best of one's ability. We can do what feels right, be 'in the flow' and take advice from others regarding our actions and our path. There are many different tools and specialists around to help us work on this level of things.

Great difficulties arise however, when trying to define an image of 'the whole' on the level of organisations, societies, countries or the world. There is currently no clear, unified way to represent 'the whole,' that everyone can agree upon and upon which we can base decisions and actions. There are many experts and groups around which broadcast their opinions on the state of the world and what the best course of action is for various societies. However, as societies, we have no one way of determining how true their statements are and deciding upon an optimal course of action once we know what is going on.

Without suitable feedback mechanisms on which to base an informed decision, all paths are hidden. There is just enough insight to see that damage is being done, but not how it will spread or where it originated. Many suitable solutions and paths remain in the dark. All we know for sure is that all the good things we're doing at the moment aren't working anywhere near well enough.

This applies to all the problems we face, be it soul-destroying jobs, traffic jams or waste disposal on a local level, or poverty, overpopulation and warfare on a global level. It seems that these problems can't be solved by throwing money at them or electing different leaders. Even protesting against policies we disapprove of is no way to provide solutions, so what can we do?

The collapse of some major support systems of our society seems only a few years - or at the most - decades away. We need to ensure that there will be a new support structure in place when the old systems finally break down. We feel that the only sustainable solution to our current and future problems is something that can help us achieve an enlightened society. Such a society is rooted in a values system based on justice, compassion and love.

For this we need tools which can help people to communicate and connect all their best ideas and solutions. We need a way to put in place solutions according to our needs, knowledge and available resources and naturally build them one upon one another. When that is possible, our solutions can be integrated, from satisfying the needs of individuals up, to a regional, national, and finally the global level. We believe that this is how a new civilisation can crystallise in parallel with the existing one, all around the planet.

We all are, and will continue to be, witness to much suffering and strife, as the gradual collapse of the current system occurs, but at the same time there will be a growing network of centres, sanctuaries and communities. Within this network, people can evolve a new way of life and new technologies with which to help soften the blow of the transition: From a competitive, ego-driven, fragmented civilisation to an holistic, decentralised planetary civilisation.

When everyone can make informed decisions and has free choice to act on those decisions, it will be possible for all people to follow their passions in harmony with the whole of society.

Foundations

In searching for the organisational structure to make this possible, we have carried out a lot of research within the context of Eastern philosophy, particularly Advaita Vedanta, Taoism (sepcifically, the trigrams of the I Ching‚ Ba Gua) and Sefer Yetzirah (local original text). There is a good introduction to the concepts of Advaita and Taoism in the ॐ (Om) article by Balamurugan S.

These are extremely powerful systems of knowledge about the structure of the universe which cover not only the physical realm, but also the conceptual and experiential world of consciousness. This "physics" is very similar to our own in describing the nature of space, time, energy and inertia, but the number of dimensions is a dynamic aspect of the way of perception and creation.

We realised that in today's world, it would be ideal to translate this system to computers because we could use them to create a unified network designed to work in accord with nature. It turns out that the structure which emerges within this network, being based on the principle of perception and creation, is very similar in structure to a neural network; the same structure our own brains have developed.

In terms of creating software, this means only the seed principle is defined, all else emerges within the bounds set by the seed and constantly orients towards perfection. This orientation toward perfection can be seen as two emergent principles or qualities.

One is 'think globally, act locally', which allows local activities to be in accord with the whole. It means that all processes can only change themselves and are used by the whole based on their efficiency in terms of energy. When applied to everyday life, the first principle translates to fulfilling one's desires in harmony with the needs of the whole. This is a better way to contribute to society than trying to change others or the world.

Second is 'all aspects changeable,' meaning that nothing within the space or the programming is fixed, so that opportunities to move closer to perfection (as decided by the first principle) are never missed. When we apply the second principle to everyday life, it enables us to move with the energy of the time and adapt to ever-changing circumstances. This also means we can adjust our attitude and activities to stay in alignment with the common benefit, which helps us to work out the common ground in everyday situations, and ultimately benefits ourselves as well as everyone involved.

The Principle in Practice: A Computer Network

To achieve our purpose, our task became to translate the ancient principles into computer software faithfully, logically structured in accord with their actual conceptual meaning, not on the specific languages and contexts of the texts describing them. In practice, it means we need to create a network architecture describing a means for people, resources, computers, processes and organisations to connect in a unified (non-fragmented) way. The architecture we're developing to achieve this is called the nodal model, and the network formed from it is the nodal network which is composed of many nodes which represent concepts, data, resources, people, organisations etc.

Any computer can run the network software and become a peer which adds a small amount of space, time and communications bandwidth resources to the network; space is like physical resources or hard-drive space, and time is the ability to change things like man-hours or computer processing time. The fully nodal version of the peer software is peerd, and is still under development.

Incorporating the principle of change in this network allows all processes, no matter how large or complex, to be seen by the network in terms of energy. This is how the principle of think global, act local can be realised. The entire network and all contained within it can therefore constantly strive toward perfection; greater efficiency, productivity and sustainability, while at the same time lowering consumption, poverty and excessive workloads.

Of course, having a network structure is not enough. What we also need is a 'doorway' to connect with the network and each other; an interface. This interface is currently being developed in interface.c, and will initially look similar to existing applications with menu bars at the top, a folder tree on the left and current content displayed at the right of the screen.

The software is based on a 'workspace' approach which means that the users can add or subtract software tools as they need them for whatever they are working on. The workspace approach means that the peer interface will in fact fulfill the role of many different computer applications, depending on which tools are needed for a specific task. Workspaces organically evolve from use into applications that are a unique combination of software tools, yet intrinsically compatible with each other. This is an expression of the principle all aspects changeable.

Workspaces will greatly facilitate group formation since the groups of software tools a user selects and the changes they perform automatically puts them in a group of all the users who are working with similar ideas and tools. Workspaces are, in effect, evolving concepts. Where desired, a workspace allows its corresponding groups to work together and share information. Improvements any user makes to an idea will become available to all others who also use the same idea.

Communications tools, which offer the ability to manage emails, contacts, document collaboration and publishing will be a part of the interface from the start. More generally speaking, these are content management tools. Another aspect under development is a shared schedule system to facilitate event planning, collaborative process modeling, and work cycle optimisation amongst network users and groups, many of which will form organisations.

Peer-to-peer networks are known for their robustness and reliability. The way peers connect with other instances to form the network creates a peer-to-peer infrastructure. It enables users to connect directly with each other as desired to exchange products and services without having to employ middlemen as in the current centralised 'client-server' approach.

The structure of the peer is completely open and transparent, similar to 'open source' software, of which the increasingly popular Linux computer operating system is an example. It differs from the Open Source model in that all applications derived inside the network evolve from concepts formed by users using the system, not from specialists developing program code.

The Possibility of Informed Decision

Because the peer structure allows concepts themselves to gain knowledge of their own usage around the network, users will be able to effectively manage their resources, such as skills, money, vehicles, tools and knowledge. One of the attributes of a concept is its cycles of surplus and deficit, or supply and demand. Therefore, once the users enter their resources into the network, potential applications will become apparent and possibilities for cooperation will emerge.

Once the network has achieved a critical mass of users it will become possible to make an informed decision in a truly free market, a market that caters to humanity's most important needs and is rooted in cooperation. Due to the open nature of the network and its interface, the notion of re-use gains a whole new meaning. In effect the network gives its users full access to a kind of 'universal template' where all successful uses of the software can be adapted for ones own usage.

Therefore, another aspect of informed decision becomes possible: Allowing users to avoid the mistakes of others or to collaborate with each other on various projects rather than having to 'reinvent the wheel' over and over again in isolation, as is the case within the current model. Further, the merit of a concept can be judged from the perspective of the whole, that is, in terms of energy consumption or conversion. This allows the users to support only projects that are beneficial.

Potential Management

We know that the network will allow users to see the demand for (or supply of) products and services among members of the network. The 'potential-management' aspect will build on this and help users refine their business ideas or projects until they gain various forms of commitment and can take shape, growing from pure ideas to the final product. For instance, I could enter into the potential management interface that I would pay $50 per month to a Taiji teacher if someone would set up a Taiji class in my suburb or that I have a spare room which is accessible to people who want to use it for setting up an office if they let me use a computer workstation when they aren't using it.

Using potential-management, people will be able to easily set up goods exchanges, manage the transport of goods and people and generally set up streamlined cooperative enterprises that cater to shared needs. Since the software would allow such enterprises to easily scale up or down, we would effectively have organically growing or shrinking cooperatives or factories, allowing people to develop their own solutions according to their priorities.

We can now see how it might be possible that people the world over could develop open, democratic solutions without depending on states or corporations, not only bringing them a vast increase in freedom and shared power, but also an increase in responsibility. Food co-ops, car-pooling systems, bartering groups and wireless community data networks are examples of existing cooperative structures that could greatly benefit from the network.

See also