What is to be done?
Now that so many international summits, expert teams, academic communities and grassroots initiatives are seeking ways to resolve the climate crisis, make our economy green, our civilization sustainable and the world work for all, we must ask:
Is this enough?
Or is ‘a piece in the puzzle’ still missing, without which there are no solutions?
Dennis Meadows claimed that it’s not enough; that a redirection of our efforts is necessary for avoiding civilizational collapse:
Will the current ideas about “green industry” and “qualitative growth” avoid collapse? No possibility. Absolutely no possibility of that.
Hear him explain why; and point to a new direction in which our efforts must be directed; and tell why in his opinion this alternative won’t be pursued:
His colleague Jørgen Randers argued that structural changes—of our core systems or institutions—have become necessary if we should have a future:
The need is for early and strong action to avoid the problems that are already here, and that will get worse in the future. The horrible fact is that democracy, and capitalism, will not solve those problems. We do need a fundamental paradigm shift in the area of governance.
With the help of this ideogram, the Holotopia domain map—another Fredrik’s inspired creation—I will share four reasons why (what we prototyped as) holotopia and knowledge federation must be added to ‘the puzzle’; why that can tip the power imbalance and make “a difference that makes a difference” as Gregory Bateson used to say.
1. Different thinking
It has become a cliché that we cannot solve our problems by thinking as we did when we created them; that we must “think outside the box”.
But what is “the box”? In what way should our thinking be different?
Hear Dennis Meadows describe this difference:
We are addicted people.
Addicted to a certain conception of reality; and to a certain kind of information.
While our ancestors walked behind a plow, or hunted and gathered, their natural environment was the reality they had to adapt to. Only once in awhile the news about a hostile tribe or a forest fire interrupted orderly flow of events—and demanded instant attention.
We live in a humanly constructed reality; which we must update from time to time. Instead of telling us that and showing us how—the media hold our attention and minds captive; by images of ‘a hostile tribe or a forest fire’ somewhere in the world!
Knowledge federation was conceived to enable our thinking to evolve.
It I tell you that knowledge federation enables that very way of thinking that Dennis Meadows identified as necessary; that it indeed is that way of thinking—I would be telling you the truth but still missing the main point. Which is that knowledge federation is an intervention in the evolution of our thinking; a strategy to make it evolve evidence-based; to empower knowledge of knowledge—the kind of insight that Meadows was sharing, and so many other philosophers and scientists—to guide the evolution of our thinking.
Abstraction is—and has always been—the cure to complexity.
Ole-Johan Dahl observed:
The only efficient way to deal with complicated systems is in a hierarchical fashion. The dynamic system is constructed and understood in terms of high level components, which are in turn constructed and understood in terms of lower level components, and so forth.
Our society and our world are complex dynamic systems. Knowledge federation elevates us above their details; it empowers us to comprehend complex things and matters in terms of their highest-level components.
In the Holotopia domain map we depicted this ‘elevation’ of our worldview by five vertical pillars. We identified five pivotal categories (named under the base of each pillar), and federated corresponding insights (named above the capitals of the pillars). The insights show what we must know—and what we will know when we begin to federate knowledge—about those pivotal matters; to comprehend in simple terms all other core themes; and know how to handle them.
Holotopia is the new reality we will see and create—once our thinking and worldview have been elevated.
2. Empowering vision
By offering ways to take care of our problems and profoundly improve our lives, holotopia supplements what Margaret Mead singled out as “one necessary condition for continuing our existence”.
The nature of our engagement with the future, and our way of being in the present, are instantly transformed—from ignoring problems or struggling with them, to actualizing opportunities.
Instead of having nothing better than “sorry guys” to tell our children on our way out—we’ll be leaving them a construction site; on a magnificent creative frontier.
3. Different action
Different thinking is not enough; we must also act differently.
We must become able to update the society’s systems.
In order to think differently we must change the systems that show us the world; and teach us how to think.
Knowledge federation enables systemic change through the creation of prototypes.
They are shown as stars on the Holotopia domain map.
Holotopia too is a prototype. It resulted when we applied knowledge federation to the quest at hand—to find out what is to be done.
4. Leverage point
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
Archimedes’ bold dictum has been quoted as a metaphor for the power of knowledge. Let the fulcrum symbolize the systemic leverage point — the point where we need to focus our efforts; so that our limited human powers can make a difference; even a world of difference.
Our strategy is to restore the “power to transcend paradigms”.
Which has been identified as the most powerful kind of systemic leverage points.
Here’s the best part:
There is no need to occupy Wall Street.
The most powerful leverage point is controlled by the academia—which we defined as “institutionalized academic tradition”.
The key to our future is in the hands of publicly sponsored intellectuals!
The academia has all the power and resources needed to implement our strategy.
We are tangled up in a paradox.
To change the way we communicate—we must first communicate the change.
That‘s what this blog is about.
I am experimenting with different ways to explain knowledge federation; to make a case for our proposal.
But I am not using you in these experiments. I reward your participation by showing you a real spectacle; the kind of drama you won’t see on TV. It’s a slow drama; which has been unfolding for twenty-five centuries or more.
Incidentally its protagonists are a pattern and a system.
The pattern is what we call the power structure.
It’s the kind of enemy you won’t see with naked eye; because it’s not a physical entity but a cancer-like degenerative deformation of societal ‘organs and tissues’—of institutions, worldviews, information-related practices, values… You can have a glimpse of the power structure with naked eye, if you just notice that all tribes—our contemporary ‘tribes’ are no exception—have belief systems or “realities” that distinguish them and hold them together. The power structure joins worldly power and the way people see the world in symbiotic co-dependence. You’ll find an explanation with links in this blog post.
The system is the academia.
The drama is the academia‘s quest for the kind of knowledge that will liberate us from power structure. And enable us to use knowledge as guiding light to evolve culturally and socially.
Socrates already demonstrated the frailty of beliefs; and challenged the power structure of his day; and paid for it with his life.
It was the revival of the academic tradition in Galilei’s time that liberated our ancestors from an oppressive power structure; and enabled the last “great cultural revival”, and comprehensive change.
The spectacular event I want to show you is the next academic revival.
Ready to begin now; and overturn the contemporary power structure; and bring about another comprehensive improvement of human condition. It is ready to begin because our situation necessitates it; because fundamental insights demand it; and because information technology enables it!
One thing I’ve been so much wanting to show you is that the core elements of the new technology of communication were conceived to enable knowledge federation—by Doug Engelbart and his SRI-based team. Hear Engelbart point to the strategy I’ve been telling you about as the job that remained to be done (his daughter Christina will first point to the nature of his vision):
What we are doing is a straight-line continuation of “Engelbart’s unfinished revolution” as Stanford University branded it.
I explained that in Doug Engelbart and the Information Age. Which I wrote while setting the stage for Knowledge Federation’s second workshop at the Inter University Center Dubrovnik; whose title was Self-Organizing Collective Mind; whose purpose was to begin systemic self-organization in academia. And through the agency of the academia—to change our collective mind; claim back our technology-enabled view of the world from the power structure that controls it; restore the faculty of vision to people and society.
By building on the work and insights of Engelbart and so many other frontier thinkers, or metaphorically by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ to see further—we have developed a complete prototype of the knowledge federation transdiscipline.
It contains everything an academic field needs—from epistemology and methods to examples of application and a community. Knowledge federation is ready to be deployed; and make a new breakthrough on an age-old frontier; which has never been nearly as indispensable as it is now.
But shall we be able to communicate our appeal?
It is in this context—as our latest attempt to raise to that challenge—that Holotopia Summary needs to be read.