The Project

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Quote.pngThere is a way in which we may conduct our lives without regrets, and in such a manner as assists in developing and realising our individual potential, without harming others, or inhibiting the realisation of their potential, and which is beneficial to a healthy society.

Such a way of life may of course be conducted without a name, and without description, but in order that others may know of it, and so as to distinguish it from other ways in which life may be conducted, we give it a name, and use words to describe it.

When discussing or describing this way in which life may be conducted, rather than refer to it in full, for convenience, we refer to it as the way, meaning simply that the discussion is concerned with this particular way, not that it is the only way of conducting one's life.

In order that we might distinguish it more easily from other ways, we refer to it also by its original name, which is Tao.
— Stan Rosenthal, Introduction to Tao Te Ching translation


Introduction

  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Our interpretation of increasing harmony lies in finding ways to reduce fragmentation and connecting the ideas that work well
  • We have discovered a great many solutions to humanity's challenges and are focusing on a way to integrate and harmonise existing solutions

Principles

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.

Systems & Instances

Defining systems for our organisations and projects requires that we document all of the roles, resources, procedures and other entities involved and categorise them into a taxonomy of types. This system-description is an evolving document continually being refined by those that refer to it.

The people that work with a system are creating and maintaining some kind of physical result such as a product or a website. The real-world results are called instances of their system, in the same way that we use the phrase "for instance" when we wish to clarify an idea by referring to an occurrence of it in reality; there are systems and their instances. The system is the architectural plan, and the instances are the physical examples of the plan in action.

Being able to refer to a wide variety of instances of a system greatly aids in the deployment of new instances and in the maintenance and improvement of other existing instances. In fact, they're so important and useful that many organisations across virtually all sectors are dedicated primarily to maintaining and improving sets of archetypical instances for use as reference and as starting points to base new instances on. Instances such as these are usually referred to as templates or prototypes.

The Platform Concept

Organic Design is an organisation dedicated to maintaining and evolving a prototype system which we call the Platform specification, and our organisation is an instance which is based on the current state of that prototype which we call a Platform. Platforms are instances of the platform specification.

The fundamental purpose of a platform is to operate in accord with the manifesto which primarily means to think globally while acting locally and to ensure that all aspects are changeable by those affected by its operation. These are very general principles, but they lead to many important design considerations and goals, and also give platform members a set of criteria to guide decision making within their platform instances.

To be able to work in accord with these principles, all the platforms must be able share knowledge in a re-usable way. This requires firstly that all the platforms can always maintain communications amongst themselves so as to form a resilient network of platforms. And secondly it requires that the platforms all have the tools to maintain their own sets of prototypes the same way we do, but covering their own specific areas of interest and expertise, and that these ways should be easily shareable and usable by others in the network who would find them useful.

So the Platform concept can be generally divided into two layers, the first being the network layer which gives a platform all the knowledge it needs to independently set up an IT infrastructure that connects them into the rest of the network. The second is an interface layer which allows users to make use of the best freely available technologies with the specific primary purpose of collaborating on their systems and knowledge and making available to the whole network.

The Platform Network

Interface: Our Mash-up Approach

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.

Large Scale Organisation

  • Large scale industry?
  • Introduce Robertson 7 layers
  • Not necessarily 7 layers
  • Hierarchy (class) and peers (instance)

The Geoscope

Acknowledgements

  • Giving credit to individuals and organisations who have already addressed certain aspects discussed here.
  • The GNU Project