Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Fresh New Start

Well...I figured that's what had to happen. After making the move to create a newsletter to avoid pushing emails to online groups and lists, I realized that I've been trying too hard to get attention to form a group to work on a project to create a different story. In doing so, I apparently put more people off than I attracted to the ideas. And also I noticed that there is something essential in my approach that might not be helping: people don't really know what I do and that's understandable...I guess I don't have it's been a long battle for clarity. 

A reason for that lack of clarity is that I've been attempting to work on virtual projects to test my ideas and with the feedback I get, the projects have changed direction and have undoubtedly evolved. The problem is, people can't really follow and it is hard for me to give people a summary, a pathway or a follow up of that evolution. The project started as "the financial institutions of the future" and it is now the "cells of the earth" with so many twists in between. Cells of the Earth is not really a different project, is just a more holistic one, is one that includes the learning lessons from the feedback I've received all along. The question that "cells of the earth" poses is my motto. I started to write what was going to be a business model for it, then I realized that what I was writing was really my big vision, how I foresee the world if working under the premises of the cells of the earth. I've done everything that has come to mind to put a team together, I was challenged about how to go about it and now it is time to give things a bit of a twist. 

I'll "hide" the big vision document and the business model for a while and I'll stick to [the refined version of] the question that gets me going: How would humans create, capture and exchange tangible and intangible value if we were to the earth, what cells are to our bodies? (which inevitably gets me thinking about how we would treat each other, but that's for a different occasion).

There will be four blogs where I'll explore this question applied to different topics: Love: The Verb is where I'll share my thoughts and experiences about spirituality and religion. Ultimate Peace and Disc is where I'll talk about ideas and experiences around the development, playing and coaching of the sport. Holy Body!! is the space where I'll share my journey on creating a healthier body and/or life. The New Economics for Humanity (NEH)'s blog will be about the exploration of the question a bit more specifically, or more in terms of money, business and value. The NEH is the foundation of anything I do, that is why every blog links to it through both facebook and twitter.

I'm planning to test ideas with my local community so rather than saying to the virtual world "hey this is my project, what do you think, would you work with me on it?" I'm looking at "hey, I have this idea, I'll do something about it in my communities and let you know what happens". That way it is not anymore just about my dreams and theories, it is also about testing them on the ground, about how I can make those dreams happen, what's on my way to do so, what I can learn from the experience and what I can do next. Hopefully that approach will change things.

Because of this new start, I'll change the contents of the "about me" pages in all the blogs and will move all previous posts in the NEH's blog to the facebook page or somewhere where I can file them away but where they would still be available if anyone wants to review them. The transition has just started so it might take me a few days. 

I'll work with my existing supporters and build up from there...if it grows it grows, if it doesn't it doesn't. I won't make that number a critical indicator. Sure it gives me information, but I can't depend just on that. Thank you for being with me, I hope my experience is giving you something to think about. For now all I can say is, I'm not giving up. There is no way to fail if my goal is learning. Even if I try hard not to learn, there is always a new can't fail learning. Welcome to my new era. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

What is the message and what should we do about it??

Following my previous post on emergence and how I would put lots of eggs in the Upgrade Democracy basket, I decided to share a few lines from this book. I happened to find stories about ants in different readings and so far, the ones told in this book as well as in Bioteams, got my undivided attention. I'll just share my highlights of a particular chapter called "Street Level". 

Deborah Gordon studied harvester ants and she says to Steven "I was interested in systems where individuals who are unable to assess the global situation still work together in a coordinated way...and they manage to do it using only local information".

Steven says 
"local turns out to be the key term in understanding the power of swarm logic...They think and act locally, but theur collective action produces global behavior...Communication between workers in colonies of the fire ant...relies on a vocabulary of ten signals, 9 of which are based on pheromones. Among other things, these semiochemicals code for task recognition ("I'm on foraging duty"); trail attraction ("There is food over here"); alarm behaviour ("Run away"); and necrophoric behaviour ("Let's get rid of these dead comrades"). 
...ants can also detect gradients in pheromones. Gradients in the pheromone trail are the difference between saying "there is food around here somewhere" and "There's food due north of here.
...The harvester ants...are also particularly adept at measuring  the frequency of certain semiochemlicals. Ants can sense the difference between encountering 10 foraging ants in an hour and encountering a hundred. Individual ants have no way of knowing how many foragers or nest-builders or trash collectors are on duty at any given time, but they can keep track of how many members of each group the've stumbled across in their daily travels. based on that information - both the pheromone signal itself and its frequency over time - they can adjust their behaviour and act accordingly.
Of course, it's always possible that an individual ant randomly stumble across a disproportionate number of foragers and thus overestimate the global foraging state and change her behaviour accordingly. But because decision-making process is spread our over a thousands of individuals, the margin of error is vanishingly small. For every ant that happens to overestimate the number of foragers on duty, there is one that underestimates. With a large enough colony, the two will eventually cancel each other out, and an accurate reading will emerge.

5 Principles to build systems designed to learn from the ground level, where macrointelligence and adaptability derive from local knowledge:

1. More is different: "The statistical nature of ant interaction demands that there be a critical mass of ants for the colony to make intelligent assessments of its global state... If we only studied individuals ants in isolation, we'd have no way of knowing that those chemical secretions were part of an overall effort to create a mass distribution line..."

2. Ignorance is useful: "Emergent systems can grow unwieldy when their component parts become excesively complicated. Better to build a densely interconnected system with simple elements, and let the more sophisticated behaviour trickle up"

3. Encourage random encounters: Descentralized systems...rely heavily on random interactions, exploring a given space without predefined orders. Without [them], the colony wouldn't be capable of stumbling accross new food sources or of adapting to new environmental conditions".

4. "Look for patterns in the signs: "A gradient in pheromone trail leads them toward food source, while encountering a high ration of nest-builders to foragers encourages them to switch tracks"

5. Pay attention to your neighbours: "local information can lead to global wisdom"

Undoubtedly, I have had many virtual encounters with citizens more than unsatisfied with the SOPA legislation which to me, only uncovers the incoherence of our current outdated democratic system. I don't think that bill will achieve its goal, I think citizens won't let that happen. But the strong "pheromone trail" I smell can only motivate me to create another option. At this precise moment where the debate is so heated, the proposal of a new democratic system may sound provoking and enticing to organizations There is nothing to lose if we ask.

This book is giving me a lot of food for thought and inspiring. It is also very relevant to my ideas of localization and human systems that consciously decide to behave life-like. 

Friday, January 20, 2012


"the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems" - in wikipedia
Something within me seems to be recognizing patterns, something seems to be trying to get my attention and I feel the need to share. After my last updated proposal for the Upgrade Democracy testing community, I read this post from Venessa Miemis where she says:
If we’re going to go beyond just sharing links with each other to actually *helping* each other, working together, experimenting, prototyping, and adapting to changing circumstances, *we* have to first change in order to make that possible.
I’m in the process of experimenting with this firsthand, bringing people togther into an online collaboratory space, and I’ll admit – it’s not easy. We’ve got a group of ‘change agents’ who want to do things together, to form ad-hoc teams around short-term projects, make something cool happen and improve our world and our lives — but how to begin?
Each of us is a free agent, delicately riding the edge of chaos and uncertainty as we try to pave our own path. Each of us likes the sound of a peer-to-peer culture, a transition from scarcity to abundance, a move from a transactional economy to a relational economy (ht jerry michalski), and a redefinition of value and wealth. Each of us sees the promise of a new way of working, living, and Being.

And yet there is still fear.
Are you gonna steal my idea? Are you gonna follow through with your commitments? Are you gonna take the credit? Am I gonna get screwed — yet again?

This is exactly what I feel...but I would dare to say this is how other millions of people's just my intuition here speaking. Venessa describes something that I see in a lot of people and blogs around: We all like the sound of...THE SAME THINGS!!. There is indeed something in common already within those of us, and it's not just that we like the same colours or style of clothes...there is something deeper in our beings that resonates in every project around. Think about what I understand of the Occupy movement: Each person was at the same place at the same time attracted by their own very different reason and in the end, those with similar motivations got together to "specialize" in groups. There was a general "something" in the Occupy idea, that fitted in the HEARTS of so many people around the planet. No political party could do that today because we feel indoctrinated by them, we feel constrained, limited by their expectations. Occupy and that which I'm talking about, allows us to be who we want to be and allow everyone else to be in the same place with us. 

The thing is, we haven't being able to summarized "that" into a set of words and we probably shouldn't try to. I don't think it is necessary, nor possible. The key to me is here: "Each of us is a free agent, delicately riding the edge of chaos and uncertainty as we try to pave our own path" ...our own path!! it is so true!! we all have an idea, and many of us are "alone" in the process and have been for long time. A friend recently told me that his project is not moving anywhere because everybody is trying to draw attention to their own projects...I agree. So the questions are, can we, should we, is it worth merging our ideas into something bigger?? 

I think it is definitely worth the experiment. If we all have projects that, because of our deep intentions, would fit into a common bigger scenario/picture/pattern/culture/story, then can we STOP for a second and pay attention to that bigger scenario that's forming around us?? To me, the scenario is the Upgraded Democracy. And the latest news that woke me up to that realization was what's happening in the USA with the SOPA legislation which to me, by affecting USA companies that operate massively and globally, would affect those millions of users registered in their sites. It is not only about affecting the industry, the economy and the jobs, or the privacy of the USA citizens. I feel that being a Colombian, leaving in Australia with accounts with all the subject companies, immediately puts me and my information exposed to their legislation effects. This makes it a global issue, it is a piece of legislation for the global population to vote on! 
SOPA, the disastrous Internet piracy bill that has been embraced by politicians because many of them simply don’t understand its technical implications. Or, as Thomas Friedman points out, consider the absence of any substantive topic relating to technology from the Republican presidential debates. - Slate Magazine
One valid approach is to vote against it when YOU can (I say YOU because only USAnians have the rights to do it). However, that's how it's always been done. It's not only that we want that specific piece of legislation not to go ahead, it is also that we want a different way to make those sort of decisions and consider that kind of legislation. Not because a group of politicians thought that it would be a good idea, means that it should go to congress and be voted on. Intuition tells me that if it was in the hands of the citizens, that legislation would've never been even suggested, at most it would've been recognized as the  unconstitutional idea that it seems to me, not worth putting it through. Another valid approach is to demonstrate the obsolescence of the current system by creating new one(s). I have the idea that when I get sick, part of my body is fighting the illness and another part is simultaneously recording details and generating code for the next time it appears. Well, that is how I see this situation too. We are fighting by voting and spreading the word but I don't see us recording the details and generating the new code. 

A lot of our projects require very different, if not completely new social, economic and political systems. Are we creating them?? Or are we just hoping that the current ones will give us some space?? 

It is and it isn't about a "unified mind". On the one hand, we want to keep everybody doing and working in whatever they feel like it. On the other hand, there is a foundation for those projects that needs to be built and I believe that all of us should be involved in one way or another. To establish future trading between us, we need to know that they way you "behave" matches the way I "behave" but we haven't created the foundation that allows us to look for those kind of behaviours we're looking for. 

I definitely believe that we should collectively and connected move towards an Upgraded Democracy and in the process I foresee both swift and deep trust  building. To me, that move is part of, if not the, foundation I'm looking for. Let's start with something small, anything. Anything that requires us to make decisions...literally anything. I have an idea/example: As a Colombian, I used to ignore the fact that USAnians are called, and call themselves Americans. Now, I can't ignore it any more. As another American I feel neglected. In a way, it translates to how I perceive the treatment that the US government gives to everything south from their borders. I assume that for most people that is just something they grew up with, they've been taught that way and never had the thought of ignoring and neglecting, it has happened unconsciously for many. Now I would like to ask you to make the conscious decision to acknowledge and recognize the presence of all other Americans by calling yourselves USAnians, or similar, and letting others know about your conscious decision. How do we go about something simple like that to make a decision and act upon it?? Regardless of whether you agree with me or not in the first place, I'm proposing this as piece of legislation. How do we go about it?? 

Even more basic question, if we agree on building that foundation where all of us and our projects would live, how do we decide on our first step? How do we decide if that foundation is Upgrade(d) Democracy or something else??

More to come....