Modern Systems

I'm interested in durable goods. Durable tools and durable processes. There’s no reason my hammer should ever need to be replaced. I don’t want to go to Home Depot every ten years for a hammer — or almost anything else not naturally consumable.

I want to learn how to do things now — canning, honey bees, gardening, milling grains — that I can do for the rest of my life.

Case Studies

Social Media

We label the Internet as a single medium. It is mixed media, with different formats – but I would say even each website is a different medium, almost. Twitter is not Pnut. They’re inherently different. When you’re reading a book, you read the words, look at pictures, and that is all there is to the book. But online, what Twitter can do and what Pnut can do are inherently different – different mediums. And we have a tendency to do this with all software; say it’s all the same format/medium. For example, I am digitizing my music collection. I used to interact with discs in cases, go to a place to get them, and put them in a player. Now I just go to my computer and it’s another thing that I hit “play” and it runs.

Let's hash this out: books have different components, and what makes a book a book is the basic characteristics: words on pages in a volume. We can say social networks are all the same medium, and news websites are all the same medium. Are news websites the same medium as social networks? It's not clear at all. Classically, I would say different social networks are different mediums, and different websites are different mediums. We say magazines and newspapers are different mediums, and classify their psychological, economic, and critical qualities differently.

But from another angle — maybe we'll call this the "humanist" perspective — all of the Internet is a single medium. It is all accessed through the same multimedia interface. It minimizes the human as the user.

Food

We have the same effects in food: if I just buy TV dinners, it doesn’t matter if it’s French or Italian, I pull it out of a box and start the microwave… It’s all the same format to me. Bread? Vegetables? Meat? Take from the box and microwave.

The lower in the chain that I’m able to insert myself into the process, the more control I have. And with that, the simpler tools I’m working with, the more durable the process.

We have the freedom, like Joe says, to just buy a frozen pizza and eat it. To buy granulated sugar and bleached flour, and eat that. But if I can reduce the marketing, packaging, unnecessary jobs weighing in above my food consumption, and handle more in-house, not only can I make some good things, but reverse the unnatural dependence on distributors for the most important things in life. We buy things from distributors for the least of our money, subsidized by the gov’t to give us the same food everyone else in the world eats, year-round, leaving us a glut of money to spend on completely superfluous things, which encourages us to live lazy, unhealthy lives, instead of working hard for the essentials like food…

Incentives

Centralized systems are increasingly centralized because it interests them, overwhelming any increasing benefit to its consumers. Grouping has efficiency gains but different vulnerabilities, and at some point complexity and volume/distance reverses gains. They lose balance in favor of control. I.e. Unnecessary amounts of gluten in flour for performance benefits (and processing bleaching?).

I take water from the tap and don't concern my conscience. But I do seek moderation, and my moderation gives me little benefit in return. The large centralized systems don't reward moderation.

Grandpa Max smuggled flour from Syberia and doctored papers to be allotted more food than his job qualified for, in communist Russia, because the centralized system didn't benefit him.

So I'm trying to increase the locality/regionality of the system and processes I'm involved in.

My entrepreneurial pursuits don't have to be rousing successes, they just have to work and have a return… But there is a sense of experimentation and cross pollination. Adn vs pnut.

to do: "distance", flesh out case studies as a real thing.