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Why Open Source Civilisation?

Welcome to this blog.

I’ve been searching for a metaphor that might be able to hold the complexity of our current circumstances and act as a theoretical frame for my own observations and activities.

Some of the dynamics I observe include:

  • A species coming to terms with the fact that it can destroy the conditions that have enabled its existence;
  • Systems of governance built on expressions of authority that appear incapable of addressing the interests of the whole;
  • Growing technological capacity to tap crowd dynamics that vastly overshadows previous modes of dealing with collective perspective;
  • A re-imagining and reformation of the three sector divides and modalities of contribution to the public and private good;
  • A breaking down in the stability of the social contract that has provided the framing and narrative for many people’s lives across the global north in the 20th century – (study hard, find a job, acquire property, produce offspring and grow old amidst economic stability);
  • The seeming limits of current forms of nation-state democracy to translate formal modes of citizen participation into changes that effectively address issues of fundamental concern and consequence;
  • New models of sharing, peer to peer learning and culture, access over ownership, the gift economy and global commons;

Open Source in digital software production involved opening and making accessible the source code for multi-nodal input in the development, adaptation, extension and evolution of software. The ‘peers’ of peer to peer (P2P) production are often separated by vast geographical and time differences and may have no contact or knowledge of each other in the analog world. The movement began to dissolve the boundaries between users and producers and broke the bottleneck limitations of linear production models that had dominated since Ford and Taylor championed them so effectively.

So my inquiry is – what would it look like if our civilisational code was made open and freely accessible – the boundaries between producers and users blurred? What are the underlying constraints on power necessary to enable such a model to flourish and thrive?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I simply like the words open and source.

What is at the heart of our civilisational ethic?

Where does the fountain spring from and where does it flow to?

As individuals what are the ways we can participate in and align our own contributions to the greater whole? What is the power of individual action in an open source world?

And what lies at the source of our own motivations?

What is this awareness in which these thoughts arise?

As an individual member of a population exceeding seven billion I smile at the audacity of the pondering and take heart in connecting to a community around the world that shares such questions and concerns.

Consider this a personal invitation 🙂

About me…

As a teenager I wanted to be an environmental economist and began my university studies in economics, philosophy and environmental studies. These plans were interrupted, for better or worse, by my other great love, playing piano and improvised music. In my early twenties, studying jazz and improvisation, learning to surrender rational decisions and doubts to an intuitive process that appeared more effective (at least musically), steered me towards methodologies of practice that recognise the power of approaches beyond conventional rationality, or mechanistic cause and effect paradigms. I learnt that creativity is more a process of surrender and emergence than of planning and direction. My experiences with music also opened a doorway to a lifelong fascination with human ability and potential.

waiting at an airport probably listening to a podcast…

Eventually I completed a degree in international studies, providing a vehicle to explore my fascination with  different languages and cultural perspectives, and a framework to consider globalisation as a whole system phenomenon. I then worked for several years in the fields of education, youth and community development, and philanthropy. I have worked with Plan Australia, the Education Foundation, the Foundation for Young Australians, Inspire Foundation, Architects Without Borders, Jesuit Social Services and RMIT University, and upon reflection most of the professional experience I’ve had has been in the arena of education and support for social entrepreneurship, although we didn’t always call it by that name.

My broader interest lies in transition from modern capitalism to a more sustainable and healthy economic and social modality, one that is more compatible with the ecological limits of the planet, more equitable for the population as a whole and promotes the flowering of individual ability and development over materialistic acquisition or an anything goes liberalism. In my own life, I’ve tended to experiment with decisions that go  against the advice of others (sorry mum and dad) and  what looks good on paper. This partly stems from a deep-set impulse to break the mould and partly a conscious recognition that we have created new mental constraints on what is possible welded to notions of material security or career rewards that don’t always serve our higher potentials.

This blog is part of this exploration…

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 5:08 am

    Johnnie Walker meets Jacques Cousteau = exploring with a fun touch.
    Congrats for the site, just “keep walking” and you’ll get there, eventually somewhere.


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