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Posts Tagged ‘technology’


Mondays are Physical Day here at Taking it to the Streets

And while Tuesdays are Idea day, and thus the day you usually get book reviews from me, I can justify starting my comments today on Judith Schor’s intriguing book, Plenitude: the New Economics of True Wealth.

Because one of the ideas that really jumped out at me in this engrossing book, presenting a “third way” solution to the double-whammy situation we’ve gotten ourselves into (economic meltdown coupled with environmental crisis) is that of so-called “fab labs.”  Have you heard of these?  I think I first did in something I was reading about improving life in third world countries, but Schor presents fab labs (fabrication laboratories) as part of her multi-valenced approach to solving this economy-ecology conundrum.

A ‘fab lab’ is “an advanced machine that follow sets of digital commands to manipulate and form raw materials to produce actual objects.  One type is rapid prototyping machines, which engage in a kind of three-dimensional copying process.  The machine is programmed to produce a certain object, the required materials are added, and it begins to create.  Humans add the steps the machine can’t handle.  Scrap plastic is a common input for a fabber, but they also handle metal, wood, and other materials.” (p. 121)

Is that cool or what?!

And then she went on to write a group who is doing this at a place called “Factor e Farm” – “dedicated to building the ‘world’s first self-replicating, self-sufficient, open source, decentralized, high-appropriate-tech resilient permaculture ecovillage.'”  Whoa! I’m in idea nirvana land!  Here’s a Wiki page about Factor e Farm and here’s their Blog.

So on this soybean field outside Kansas City they’re just cranking out the machines they need to create a “self-sufficient, completely sustainable community requiring minimal financial capital.”

Later on in the book she talks about how the rise of Big Banks is one of the factors that led to our recent meltdown.  So what if we built an economy ourselves and left the bankers out of it?  I love that idea!

There are so many innovative and thought provoking ideas in this book, but the more detailed look at these fab labs and the possibilities inherent in their use was particularly unique for me.  My friend’s husband is a chemist and he knew exactly what I was talking about – referring to them as 3D printers (which I just googled and yes, I see that IS what they are sometimes called).

You’ll be hearing more about Plentitude from me, but as you lounge around waiting, pop over to the blog  .

I’m really getting lately, that the “back to the land” “doing it for ourselves” movement that my gen aspired to “back in the day” is getting married to the technogeek culture that I now love and what a lovely baby they are going to have – a wonderful world of PLENITUDE for us all. Stay tuned for more. And read this book!

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Wow.  What a day!

Gay marriage – Prop 8 overturned in California.

I got a new iPhone 4.

Two seemingly totally unrelated events.  But they are related in two ways:

They both make me crazy happy.  I nearly wept with joy when I saw the verdict come down on Proposition 8 today.  Then, while hardly of the same global import, I was grinning like a little kid when I picked up my new iPhone 4 tonight at the AT&T store.

“This changes everything” – in both cases, I think that’s true.

And on that count I think both are of importance to a broader demographic than me.

First, gay marriage.  I’m old enough to remember Stonewall, back in 1969, which was the kickoff event for what came to be known as the Gay Liberation Movement.  Four years later when I was realizing it was a movement of which I was a member (not in the sense of being an activist, but coming out) I don’t think I thought gay marriage would be possible in my lifetime.  Lo, these 40 years later, today’s ruling makes me believe that it IS possible.  I truly got teary eyed.  My friend Barbara said tonight that she is neither black nor gay but today’s ruling gave her the same sense of exhilaration and hope as she felt when President Obama was inaugurated – we didn’t grow up thinking we’d have a black president or that gay people would be able to marry just like their straight brothers and sisters.

Yes, I know as my childhood hero Yogi Berra used to say “it ain’t over til it’s over” and this one is likely to go all the way to the Supremes (and I don’t mean Diana Ross & co).  But —- WOW.  This changes everything.

Meanwhile, in a totally different way so does the iPhone 4.  Having been burned by being too early an adapter of technology before (I got one of the very first digital cameras, for instance – paid a small fortune for something big, clunky and quickly outdated) so I held out on the whole smartphone thing.  I kind of got the ‘big deal’ about it, but this part Dutch, part Scottish girl didn’t want to part with even more money per month to my second biggest monthly bill – AT&T. 

So I picked up the phone about 8:30 – got into the car and my other best friend Sue called me.  Realized the young man hadn’t shown me all of the logistics of calls – but I intuitively knew exactly how to do all the things I wanted to do – answer the phone, put it on speaker phone, hang up, then call my best guy friend Bill, chat, hang up.  Easy peasy.

Came home, loaded up iTunes and all sorts of stuff from my laptop onto my tiny computer aka phone.  Then I decided to check out apps – and quickly downloaded a bunch of free and very useful apps and even popped for $2.99 for Scrabble.

But here’s what really got me – the phone has more features than most laptops I’ve owned.  It’s small, light, truly beautiful and portable.  I can update my blog, check on your comments here (you will leave them so I can test that, now won’t you?), update Facebook, see what you had to say, shop, etc.

Oh I know –you’ve had your smartphone for 2 years now and this is old hat to you.

But have you really thought about how MUCH this changes everything?  We’re in the wee tiny infancy of constant connectivity.  I’m ‘dreaming a bigger dream’ because of this and I’ve had it all of 2 hours now!  There are just so many possibilities, so many enablers, so many new ways of doing things.

For my astrologically inclined readers, I’m seeing this entry of Uranus and Jupiter into Aries as truly new beginnings.  This day, particularly I am feeling like we are the verge of  a very new world indeed.

I think that’s what has our friends on the right so fearful and worried – the old order is quickly passing away and the new one is (finally) beginning to dawn.

The young man at the store was named Garrett.  That was my grandfather’s name, though he found it too Dutch and old-world-like and wanting to be whatever they called hip back in the 1910s, he changed it to George.  This Garrett tonight was so young and handsome and just whipped through setting up my phone.  I thought of what a perfect job that was for a young man now and I wondered as I drove home, what Garrett’s life would be like when he was looking back about 40 years from now.  I wonder if he’ll be as astonished at how things can change as I am tonight.

“It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright bright sunshiney day….”

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