Monday, January 5, 2009

Spimey, hackerish thoughts-I blame Bruce Sterling

IR cameras in houses:
Fire detection
Intruder detection
Temperature management (wise house + ventilation, shade)
Presence detection (turn off the light when I leave plz Hal)

That's a lot of theoretical functionality just from some dumb, cheap cameras + some smarts (whether it's a centralised puter, or embedded in each camera module in the classic Spime model)
Webcams alone could do all that bar the temperature sensing..

"The US, much of Western Europe,
Japan, maybe Korea, are already more than capable of producing a house,
car, furniture, appliances, clothing, and food for all of their inhabitants
using capital (though perhaps not resources) that already exists within
their countries."

NZ can do most of those, but not Appliances
RepRap/Arduino appliances?
Is it possible to make most basic appliances from a few basic, open source hardware elements?

Kettles, Food cooker things: Are little more than a heating element + thermometer
Washing machines and electric drills are both based around that olde timey electric motor
Stereos and computers are more specialised, but the Arduino got very cheap and versatile pretty much just by crowdsourcing/open sourcing it's design

If we could make the basic functionality from simple, modular components - and wrap the thing in a 3D printed plastic shell locally - we could remove a dependency on overseas economies, and save money and carbon by minimising the distances they'd need to be transported.

"Jon was asking what kind of nifty designer gizmos I'm into this
season... I'm still interested in the networked commons. A social
invention that enables social inventions.

If markets don't work, and central allocation doesn't work either,
then a commons makes a lot more sense to a lot more people. It gets
easier to fight off the vampire hordes of commercial IP creeps who want
to monetize everything, lock it down with legal barbed-wire, and make
sure the fix stays in. Because they're broke. So why not try
something that's not nailed to collapsing cash-flows?

"Commons-based peer production." That seems to be opening up new
spaces for contemporary thought and action. It might enable new modes
of getting by in tough times.

I find myself impressed that young people, my students, the Internet
natives, they don't seem aware how different the digital commons is
from previous ways of organization. Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist,
Facebook even, they simply think that's how the real world works. It's
like a HERE COMES EVERYBODY where they're already here.

The commons offers ways out of the glum solipsist autarchy of hippie
homesteads and survivalist city-states. If you're gonna "do it
yourself" with a wireless Linux netbook, you're not doing it Robinson
Crusoe style. You've got the collective labor of a couple million guys
there under your arm. This is not a "virtual community" WELL-style.
It's more like a huge, anonymous public infrastructure of aqueducts.
But if you're getting clean free water, why buy that bottled stuff they
marketeers flew in Fiji?

This peer-production stuff used to look very hobbyist and geekish and
rickety. It was hotglue and strapping-tape. It's still not
"mainstreaming," it will likely never have commercial gloss. Still,
it's acquiring some kind of commons-gloss. It looks better, it works
better, it performs with more functionality in wider areas of life.
It has escaped its geek ghetto. Normal people no longer apologize to
their bosses for using open-source components, or for finding things
out on the "unreliable" Internet.

Hardware commons and instructables interest me quite a lot.

The trend toward make-and-do labs and hacker spaces is also of keen
interest to me -- not just what gizmos people are designing and making,
but how the infrastructure of designing and making is itself breaking
up and reassembling in new component-sets. "User Experience Design."
Good God, what *isn't* "user experience design"? It sounds like the
most vaporous thing on earth, but the way those guys talk is completely

I'm wondering what happens if somebody makes a small town
commons-based. The street lights, the parking meters, they've all got
APIs... you get to hack the sewers, repaint the streets... all the
building regulations go up for grabs... Would it be a grimy hippie dive
like Christiania, or might it get suave and geeky-upscale, like the
Google campus?

Suppose you found some dead James Howard Kunstler strip-mall burg,
bought it for a dollar, and turned it into "OpenSource-opolis" where
every possible object and service was creatively commonized. Would
that be heaven, hell -- or what we've got now only different?"

Bruce Sterling in a very interesting conversation on the Well

No comments: