Open source leaders belong on the (En)Rich List


I love the Post Growth Institute’s latest project: The (En)Rich List, with the byline “A Wealth of Inspiration!”

This is a brilliant insight – paying attention to people who have helped show the way to sustainable paths is so much more important and urgent than talking about “Rich Lists” that measure individual success.

That’s not to say I’m equally enthusiastic about all the choices on the list, but that’s okay – the (En)Rich List is a conversation starter rather than an authorititative list. The listmakers state: “it makes no claims of objectivity”. In the same spirit, I’ll make some nominations below, for next time.

The commons is rightly recognized in the (En)Rich list, notably through Elinor Ostrom (commons researcher and Nobel laureate) and Michel Bauwens (the P2P Foundation). But what of those who have made the commons possible, in software, spreading knowledge, and in cultural works?

Being a wikiholic, I’ll start by nominating Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) and Ward Cunningham (inventor of wiki software, to radically open up the development of knowledge and ideas on a website). Their revolution is a social one – by enabling learning and connections of knowledge on an unprecedented scale, they’ve expanded the opportunities for potential future leaders, and future pioneers and innovators in sustainable paths. And of course the wiki provides the model and platform used by Appropedia, enabling sustainable paths in our own way: as a sustainability wiki, an open database of solutions.

Before wikis came Richard Stallman, who stands out for his work in the software commons pioneering “Free Software” (that’s free as in freedom… also called “open source,” though Stallman hates that term). Crucially, he also wrote the first open license, that said in effect: I’ll share this with you, if you agree to share what you do with it. Linus Torvalds added a missing piece to the coding work of Stallman’s GNU project, and kicked off Linux, an important, very secure operating system; he also licensed it under Stallman’s “copyleft” license.

And finally, Lawrence Lessig applied these principles to all kinds of creative works, through Creative Commons licenses. These are easier to understand and use than Stallman’s original license, and are used on this blog, on the Appropedia wiki, on Wikipedia, on many published works by the Australian and other governments, on vast numbers of photos and other creative works on Flickr and elsewhere across the web.

I have more thoughts on the list which I’ll share soon, on the contrast between the pessimists on the list (including Paul Ehrlich and Ted Trainer) and the optimists (notably E.F. Schumacher and Jean Russell).

Again, thanks and kudos to the Post Growth Institute – a great and provocative idea, well executed.

Open Source Permaculture – 1 day to go


There’s just over a day remaining for the Open Source Permaculture project, at time of writing, and around $3000 more needed to reach the target. Please consider donating if you haven’t already – this will be a real boost for permaculture. See the fundraising status box to the right.

And if you’re reading this after the deadline, there are plenty of ways you can get involved – just leave a comment here and we’ll direct you.

Now for a brief “roundup” – as in the latest news and blogs, not Roundup the chemical herbicide. We use mulch to keep weeds down ;-). Open Source Permaculture has been getting attention, appearing on Treehugger, Ecopreneurist, Inhabitat and many other sites. I want to highlight three particularly interesting links.

Shared vision: Open Source Permaculture


Update: Nothing came of this project, sadly. See comments for details.

Appropedia continues to be committed to free and open knowledge resources for permaculture, and we hope to have more detailed announcements on this soon. – Chris Watkins, 7 Aug 2013.

Original post:

We’ve been speaking with Sophie Novack and Evan Schoepke from the Open Source Permaculture project, and we’re glad to announce that we’ll be working together building the permaculture wiki on Appropedia, and that we’re supporting their fundraising effort.

They state:

We believe that sustainability is for everyone. That’s why we’re creating Open Source Permaculture, a free online resource for anyone who wants to create a more sustainable world.

This resonates with us. We’ve been talking about open source permaculture for some time, and putting the idea out there in the permaculture community. Our “Permaculture wiki” page describes the state of things, noting various attempts which have sadly fallen over and others which have a more limited scope, and inviting others to join us. An open source permaculture wiki page (hosted by our friends the Open Source Ecology wiki0 looks at what we need in a website to really serve this vision.

We’ve made progress. We’re now using an important tool for structured data, Semantic MediaWiki, which we can apply to a permaculture ecology to help map the relationships between inputs, outputs, plants, animals, principles and resources. We’ve cultivated the wiki platform, to enable open source permaculture to grow

But a key part of the ecosystem has been missing, until now: Passionate individuals who know permaculture, who are prepared to study and work on developing materials to explain and teach permaculture. That’s what the Open Source Permaculture project is about and we’re happy to point you to their fundraising effort. This is a vision that deserves funding, and deserves a vote of support. Please check it out, and ask yourself how much this kind of abundant future means to you.

The details of our collaboration are being worked out – it will be based on using Appropedia as the permaculture wiki, and I’m sure we’ll be working together in other ways in this work to create an abundant and sustainable world.

By the way, for those unclear about what permaculture is exactly, here’s a video from a community in San Francisco: