Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hunters of Experience, Gatherers of Wisdom

How might the concept of hunter gatherer ownership fit in with knowledge use systems? It's one thing to gather information and seek wisdom just because we want to. And - in a sense - doing so is priceless. But when society leaves vital elements of knowledge use in a random and undefined context, much of the quest for progress through knowledge can ultimately be lost. If this does happen, civilizations can take a long time to rediscover knowledge and make it important, once again. (If they do)

When decision making becomes confined to institutional settings, knowledge components can be reduced to the role of a work horse. Then, it becomes difficult to link societal goals and aspirations to those of others. The fact this happens, means knowledge cannot be carried forth and amplified meaningfully through time. Basically, that forces individuals to succeed by their own wits, without the ability to stand on the shoulders of those who came before them.

Unfortunately, this is when economic growth also starts to diminish. Everywhere one looks, the loss of growth in human potential is being rationalized away. The faith of growth through humanity, needs to be regained. After all, people could still make knowledge use and its related service potential, a more complete part of a free marketplace. So far, this potential has scarcely even been unleashed.

Knowledge needs active application among individuals in ongoing settings, so that focused time use can be stored and measured in public memory. We might read a thousand books in a lifetime or take multiple classes, but if we don't apply the concepts or discuss them, it's not the same. This digital (and personal) memory would be locally maintained by individuals in their communities, instead of institutions which wall off such information at will and wherever they desire.

What's more, this local memory would become part of the larger memories which surround it, and they would be connected by subject and story. Indeed this was a natural process for knowledge use, before formalized education changed societal expectations as to where and how economic activity was "supposed" to happen.

Each focused hour that an individual engages in with others, becomes capable of contributing to a voluntary public sphere. This is also a form of group coordination which goes well beyond what governments have sought to provide for the public. Presently, the "hows" for conceptualizing new infrastructure connections have no place to occur - let alone a sphere where choices in infrastructure could become a grassroots process.

One of the most important aspects of such a process, is that focused time can become useful and available for arbitrage in incremental units. Time use in such frameworks, also takes on vital characteristics of capital. This in turn would allow individuals to engage in roles of wealth creation which they have long prepared for. In a sense, time use held a similar value in earlier hunter gatherer environments. One's focused time use often meant the difference between survival or not, which is something no economic setting can realistically leave out, even now.

Hunter gatherer ownership patterns would provide ways to ensure that the economic frontier remains open. Otherwise, local economies tend to freeze lifestyle options so that innovative and resourceful solutions become impossible. This frontier is especially needed, when nations have become weary of immigration and the marginalized already among them. Such patterns would allow creative destruction to occur in an equilibrium which is flexible enough to not disturb the larger, more fixed equilibrium of middle to upper income levels.

Services and physical environments need to contain enough diversity, that all citizens have cultural lifestyle options. Otherwise, lack of organizational options means too little trust for positive economic and social relations. After all, no amount of non profit effort can pick up the pieces that are left in an incomplete equilibrium at lower to middle income levels.

Hunter gatherer ownership can complete the missing equilibrium, by establishing flexible use physical environments, alongside flexible forms of knowledge use and services. The nature of lower income equilibrium has often not been well defined in the past, which has prompted every kind of social unrest imaginable. Hunter gatherer ownership can provide both incremental success stories and "soft landings". One would find social and economic patterns to either build up slowly and gradually over time, or simply get a cultural break when it is no longer possible to live large.

We are each a unique synthesis of knowledge skills sets and experiences. Many of these could serve as a base, for community to be rebuilt upon. In settings where we are not tied to specific forms of knowledge use, it becomes possible to work in spontaneous teams and projects with automation. That also allows us to make the choices as to what we want automation to do, and nothing about those choices needs to be set in stone.

In turn, social and repetition elements can be brought back into the work mix which actually matter to individuals. Here, it helps to remember that some forms of work can be the most desirable product of all. After all, the memory of the movable feast in motion, can be equally significant to what the harvest provides. And no one has to constantly leap the length of the Grand Canyon just to have a life. Anyone can move upward: one focused hour, one bit of valued experience, one additional building component, one completed harvest, at a time.

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