[permaculture] John Ross permaculture post

Patrick forgeadams at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 17 01:41:08 EST 2009

John Ross is a military theorist/futurist/blogger who I enjoy a lot. He tends to write about geo-politics and a more hard nosed take on ecological design. He recently posted this.
Monday, 14 December 2009

people wouldn't associate growing food with a game.  It's hard work (as
the summers in my youth working on our family farm attest to).  Despite
this preconception, gaming software (and particularly MMOs -- massively
multiplayer online games), might be a way to supercharge local food
production.  Connect these data points:Analysis:  Farming as a MMO gameThere's a new game (both my kids and some readers pointed this out to me), called Farmville,
that's gaining considerable popularity.  It works as a Facebook add-on,
and is easily downloaded via Flash.  It turns virtual farming (from
planting to reaping to going to market) into a fun social experience.
 The game now sports 60 million active users.Analysis:  PermaculturePermaculture,
the use of designed ecosystems to produce food, might be one of the
best ways to add food production (and a large variety of other outputs)
to a resilient community.  Here's why.  Traditional farming is input
intensive.  From manual work (both machine and human) to energy
(pesticides to fertilizer), inputs drive output.  In contrast,
permaculture uses natural ecosystem function to replace many of these
tangible inputs to provide outputs on par with traditional farming.
 The problem is designing the ecosystem of a permaculture
plot to achieve high rates of return (output/input).   In short, brain
work has the opportunity to replaced brawn but it's tough to do.Synthesis:  The MMO + Permaculture BootstrapSo,
as with most activities/industries that have replaced brawn and
physical inputs with brain work and ideas, it probably needs some
software to get it going (where Moore's law and network dynamics can
help accelerate its productivity over time).  Unfortunately, the
current state of software that aids the design of permaculture plots is
pretty dismal.  The best people can do is cobble together
mapping software, 3D landscape modeling software, and some auto CAD.  
Of course, it is possible if the resources were available (my team of
developers could do it), to build software that enables people to
design, optimize, and share permaculture plots, that misses a great
opportunity.The real opportunity is to build a learning system
via software, one that naturally trains the people that use it, gets
better and more sophisticated over time, and is fun.  The only way I
know how to do that is build a game.One of the first things to do, is build a simple Farmville type social game that helps people learn permaculture design principles:Conservation.  Efficiency of inputs.  Repeating functions.  Redundancy.Stacking functions.  Multiple uses for the same thing.Reciprocity.  Outputs of one part of the system are inputs for
another.  In other words, cascading processes maximize the energy yield
of the system.Local scale.  Minimal organizational overhead.  Match production to local need.Diversity.  Lots of different ecosystem participants increases resilience.
As the game grows, it could move to a much higher level.  For
example, gaming software that offers the ability to add connections to
the real world (satellite imagery/topography of actual plots), has high
end graphics (for more immersive and detailed plot design), and
provides models/simulation (to test new configurations).  In fact, if
done through a game, the upfront training requirements for using this
new functionality would be nearly zero (for new and existing users).  I
could go on and get much more detailed on this, but I suspect you get
the picture.
				Posted by John Robb on Monday, 14 December 2009 at 02:09 PM | Permalink


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