Intentional Community 2.0

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Nathan Cravens

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Apr 8, 2009, 3:00:02 AM4/8/09
to Kevin Carson, Peer-To-Peer Research List, Open Manufacturing, Marcin Jakubowski
Hi Kevin,
 
I'll forward my comments to the p2p list as well later on.
 
Don't mind if I do?
 
Thanks for the extensive reflection. I believe this is a document in which to place P2P/Open Manufacturing into a theoretical framework for community organization, applicable to existing communities.
 
OSE already provides the model for the toolset and production standards. The semantic web interface and basic income platform will encourage global networking to build a variety of designs to meet each community culture or personal preference.
 
Bookchin's
Post-Scarcity Anarchism useful if you haven't read it already.
 
I possess a copy. It contains all forwards written up to the last in the 80s. Each forward was less and less hopeful of realizing post-scarcity. No doubt he'd be thrilled with the discussions today. Funny, I only read the forwards. I'll take another hack at it.
 
On factory production, about the only forms of current production that
objectively require a large factory are heavy internal combustion
engines, jet engines and microchips.
 
So then could we competitively have mini-mills and metal molds fabricated on demand at a local fab lab?
That makes sense. Labs therefore need to replicate to meet demand as it is made practical.
For those on this list knowledgeable of working with metals and refrigeration.
Is fabbing a Fridge from scratch feasible?
What are the steps and how long would it take with optimal tools and processes?  
 
I'll address the rest tomorrow. I just want to get this content out there.
 
We're discussing this document:
 
Intentional Community 2.0
 
Nathan
 
 
 
Thanks, Nathan.  It looks like an excellent summary.  I've made too
many writing commitments to do the ones I've already got justice (I
still intend to add material at the OS Market Economy wiki, for
whatever good intentions are worth), so I can't collaborate in writing
 the document.  But I'll give what feedback I can.  I hope you don't
mind my cc'ing this to Michel and Vinay, btw.  And if you don't
object, I'll forward my comments to the p2p list as well later on.
On the combination of automated industry and decentralized village
production, you might find the industry chapter in Bookchin's
Post-Scarcity Anarchism useful if you haven't read it already.
Ecotopia (Ernest Callenbach) and Communitas (Paul and Percival
Goodman) also play around with roughly comparable mixtures of ideas
(they all also dovetail nicely with Vinay's ideas of a low minimum
cost of buying out of the system, and a guaranteed subsistence
lifestyle based on standardization and cheap modular design).
On factory production, about the only forms of current production that
objectively require a large factory are heavy internal combustion
engines, jet engines and microchips.  We can probably write off jet
aircraft altogether as a technology that wouldn't exist if it had to
internalize its own costs. If automobiles of the current type are
replaced with light, electrically-powered vehicles serving those on
the margins of the community transit and regional light rail networks
(e.g. truck farmers in dispersed areas outside of town, who are an
inconvenient distance from the closest railhead and need handy light
hauling transport into and out of town), then Detroit-style engine
production will probably also disappear.  That leaves microchip
foundries as the main form of centralized industry.
Re textiles and such, I suspect that household production (either for
the self-sufficient homestead, or for exchange with the neighbors)
with a heavily tweaked and modernized loom, sewing machines, etc., is
the most efficient model.  Ditto for building furniture and the like.
Of more specialized forms of production, most of it can probably be
done by existing small machine shops, or even the better equipped
backyard hobbyist workshops (with multimachines thrown in here and
there), networked together or possibly with their resources pooled
together into neighborhood workshops.  The boundary between this, and
slightly larger-scale factory production on the Emilia-Romagna model
with a dozen or so people doing flex manufacturing in a single shop,
will probably be pretty blurry.    I don't know how feasible total
automation  would be-- but the total hours of labor required in a
rationally organized system and the pool of people who enjoy puttering
around with such things, taken together, would mean it probably
wouldn't be a problem.
I'm especially interested in issues of "getting from here to there,"
with such communities built on the current geographical space and
using many of the same human and physical raw materials as current
communities, and with the transition occuring under conditions of a
"long emergency."  One thing that keeps coming to mind is the rise of
the manor as a sixth-century "resilient community," in the immediate
aftermath of Western Roman collapse, and what existing community
resources might form the building blocks of Vail's and Robb's
resilient communities in the current collapse.  What are the
possibilities of such intentional communities being formed on a
networked basis within the same geographical space as existing
communities, as opposed to being founded as stand-alone projects on
new sites?  One interesting thing along these lines is Poul Anderson's
fictional post-apocalypse "Northwestern Federation" (roughly from the
Pacific NW through BC, and into Alaska) in *Orion Shall Rise*, with
fraternal lodges providing police protection, organizing the
restoration of water and power, and generally becoming the nucleus of
society.
I'm skeptical about 3-D printing as a generalized form of production
technology (although for cheap production of circuitry components it
might be an excellent part of an overall community workshop).  But I
think the possibilities of low-overhead production using existing
small-scale machinery are sufficient to go a long way in blurring the
distinction between "free speech" and "free beer" when all the entry
barriers and artificial property rents  and mandated overhead levels
are removed.
Your analysis of the institutionalized/professionalized educational
and personnel system is very good.  Paul Goodman's work on the
high-overhead, bureaucratically ossified "style" of establishment
organizations (job descriptions, Weberian procedural rules, prestige
salaries, credentialism, overhead-inflating specs for purchasing
materials, and all the rest of it), and his contrast with ad hoc,
self-directed organizations (he wrote before p2p or network culture
even existed as concepts) might be useful here.  Ditto Ivan Illich on
radical monopolies.
Re homes being taken, if the intentional community develops as a
successor community within  the shell of the old, with an increasing
number of the old community's citizens joining but perhaps never
becoming unanimous, the question of expelling misfits may be
problematic.  An alternative  might be some model of tolerating people
who are "in the community but not of it," i.e. who have not
established the prerequisites for receiving the guaranteed minimum
income or the services going with membership, but are free to live in
their existing housing space and engage in exchange with other willing
parties on their own dime.  That's what the Spanish anarchist
collectives did in the 1930s, when peasants preferred to operate as
autonomous small-holders rather than participating in the village
collective.  They might sell or trade their crops as they saw fit, and
get some pro rata individual share of common resources, paying for
anything above that minimum; ditto small tradesmen in the towns who
didn't want to federate in the syndicates.
Best,
Kevin

--
Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society http://c4ss.org
Mutualist Blog:  Free Market Anti-Capitalism
http://mutualist.blogspot.com
Studies in Mutualist Political Economy
http://www.mutualist.org/id47.html
Anarchist Organization Theory Project
http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2005/12/studies-in-anarchist-theory-of.html
 

ben lipkowitz

unread,
Apr 9, 2009, 6:07:41 PM4/9/09
to Open Manufacturing
On Wed, 8 Apr 2009, Nathan Cravens wrote:

>> On factory production, about the only forms of current production that
>> objectively require a large factory are heavy internal combustion
>> engines, jet engines and microchips.

I'd add steel, trains, orbital spacecraft, and enriched uranium to that
list.

However a lot of materials have a minimum process size that makes economic
sense; if you spend all your time grinding up sticks from your yard to
make paper, you'll never finish that novel you intended to write. The
situation gets more complicated when the book is about papermaking.

> So then could we competitively have mini-mills and metal molds fabricated on
> demand at a local fab lab?

Competitively, no. It's unlikely we could buy the raw materials for a mini
mill at less than the price of the finished product from China. It is
possible to do, though. Don't neglect the benefit of having custom
designed machinery for your particular set of requirements.

> That makes sense. Labs therefore need to replicate to meet demand as it is
> made practical.

Labs need to focus on automation so that they aren't subjecting their
members to excessive opportunity costs by making everything from scratch.

If you spend 1000 man-hours building the equivalent of a $1000 machine,
have you gained or lost? What about the second or third time you do it?

> For those on this list knowledgeable of working with metals and
> refrigeration. Is fabbing a Fridge from scratch feasible?

Depends what you mean by "scratch" - I'd define scratch as the most
abundant minerals in earth's crust, water, sunlight, and air. Given that,
your "refrigerator" would probably end up looking something like a fat
tree. Not a bad design, all things considered, but our technology simply
isn't there yet.

Now if you take "scratch" as "anything you can buy at a Home Depot then
the situation changes, but is that really what you mean?

> What are the steps and how long would it take with optimal tools and
> processes?

Like a refrigerator factory?

The basic components of a conventional refrigerator are:

- refrigerant, a chemical that has a high heat of vaporization and
boiling point near or below the desired temperature; propane or
ammonia are easy to come by. for this you'd need feedstocks,
distillation apparatus, analysis instruments, containment tanks

- compressor motor, usually an electric motor permanently sealed inside
the refrigerant plumbing. requirements: wire rolling and drawing,
brushes or steel laminations, bearings, switches

- compressor pump, requires high precision seals if the motor is not
enclosed in the system. otherwise it's just a relatively complicated
precision mechanical device with multiple bearings and sliding seals..

- heat exchangers, just a long length of copper or aluminum
tubing with fins soldered on. these would have to be made in some
seamless process, probably with a floating mandrel, which is tricky:
http://www.howellmetal.com/HowellMetal/Portals/57ad7180-c5e7-49f5-b282-c6475cdb7ee7/tube5.jpg

- circulation fan. same as for compressor motor, with some bent sheet
metal.

- defrost heater, a quartz tube with some nichrome heating wire inside.
no idea how to make these.

- thermostat, usually a long strip of two dissimilar metals bonded together.
supposedly they can simply be riveted together, but i always seem them
as a continuous smooth strip

- insulation, often polyurethane foam, but fiberglass and styrofoam are
almost as good. is there an organic chemist in the house?

- shelving, drawers, handles, exterior case, and frame. easy enough if
you know how to make sheet metal.

so based on the level of technology infrastructure required to make each
one of those, i'd say it's not feasible to make from pure chemicals. It's
a lot more attractive idea if you can buy or trade for semi-finished
stock, that is to say, tubing of consistent diameter, sheet metal, wire.
(but if you're doing that, why not just buy a compressor motor? why not
buy or scrounge a fridge?)

you can make a decent produce extender by putting one unglazed ceramic pot
inside another and filling the space between with water.

this isn't even getting into alternative designs like thermoacoustics or
hilsch tubes, which could simplify the technology tree at a cost in
performance and efficiency.

see why we need SKDB?

Vinay Gupta

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Apr 9, 2009, 6:13:44 PM4/9/09
to openmanu...@googlegroups.com

At the end of the day, plywood and paper and so on really do make a
lot of sense to buy from gigantic factories _for now._

In the limit, we'll see what makes sense, but at the moment we ought
to focus on what we can do in a sustainable fashion, and that means
being able to do tomorrow what you did today and not run out of
resources.

Vinay


--
Vinay Gupta
Free Science and Engineering in the Global Public Interest

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