Boring title, but not a boring read. Please continue reading dear reader and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
With the advancement of technology, we are moving into a new level of economy where most information, even some of the proprietary ones are freely accessible on the net. The level and degree of communication is also much more elaborate that likeminded people don’t need to lift themselves from their chair to get into a community (though that can be a problem). This community is not the community as we know it like a group of people physically around us. These people are geographically dispersed yet as close as a monitor in front of us through the internet. This is networked socialism, where we get together with likeminded people no matter where they are, exchanging ideas, asking questions, getting answers very very quickly.
Permaculturists are one of these online communities as you would imagine. The amount of information sharing is astounding that you don’t need to buy specific books. We still buy books though, to confirm what we heard or to deepen our research on the subject or to keep them as reference.
I am still part of a permaculture group that we meet regularly but we also have an online presence where we exchange articles, information etc.
When information is shared freely on the internet its monetary value becomes practically zero as it can be re-produced multiple times. This brings us to post-capitalism pointing to the digital age, where the products (mostly information) can be multiplied unlimited times therefore their value is virtually zero.
Whereas in capitalism, products can only be multiplied in limited quantities as the resources are limited and the value of the item defined in a supply-demand curve.
As Paul Mason said in his book, PostCapitalism:
“…the technologies we’ve created are not compatible with capitalism… Once capitalism can no longer adapt to technological change, PostCapitalism becomes necessary… That, in short, is the argument of this book: that capitalism is a complex, adaptive system which has reached the limits of its capacity to adapt.”
Tell that to the makers of Game of Thrones: the pirated version of Episode 2 of its 2014 series was illegally downloaded by 1.5 million people in the first twenty-four hours.
Information goods exist in potentially unlimited quantities and, when that is the case, their true marginal production cost is zero.
Permaculturists are using the internet more than any other farmer or community, sharing information on forums, shooting small instructional videos and publishing them for free, writing blogs of their endeavours, in short; using the internet for a purpose (finally). The latest online permaculture course from Geoff Lawton is a good example of this too. There are many people on the net, worth following. These people are quality content creators.
Around this new revolutionary and mostly free knowledge, there are societies starting to form, consuming the knowledge, evolving and continuously improving them, implementing with local knowledge and sharing the results. Each content creator also listens their community and evolving, producing their content accordingly. “Demand” is becoming an identifier of what content get created and not the driver of the “price” anymore.
With permaculture, we are on the way to creating new generation farmers, socially networked, much more educated, caring for Earth, soil, and all living things, understanding the implications of their actions in long term and not afraid of changing their ways if proved otherwise.
For these new-gen farmers, the community and its quality are important.
Look at seed sharing networks for example. I’ve received seeds sometimes I forgot to ask about it from people I’ve never met in flesh. All I need to do is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope or sometimes even that is not required.
Forums are another example, you ask a question (after extensively searching the forum for the answers first) and you would get zillions of answers from angles you’ve never knew existed. Wisdom of crowd answers your question while creating a searchable entry and people who are not born yet can find those answers in the future and build upon it. Personally, I open the forums with an intention to learn something that day.
My Facebook feed also filled with likeminded people (after much weeding). For example, when I throw a question about recipes for soil blockers, I get many answers back.
When I was reading David Heaf’s beekeeping book, there was a subject about oxalic acid and its effect on queen’s egg laying. I sent an email to David who is in Wales, UK asking for more info. He answered the next day sending me academic research papers about the subject. Today’s authors are much more accessible (if they are alive of course) to ask questions thanks to internet. They don’t need large publishing companies either, as they can use the internet to distribute their online books and charging customers using services like PayPal, PayTM, AliPay etc.
Of course there are half or misleading information on the net too, some even deliberately put in there. Fact checking is important in those cases; I wouldn’t implement any method in my life without extensively researching the subject first.
Once the information is liberated, the implementation may be at peril. This depends on the consumer’s analysis of that particular method. If I am not doing my research properly and not paying attention to details, it is inevitable to fail. Still though, the recovery will be quick if I consult to the wisdom of crowd asking reasons of my failure on the net, by documenting what I have done. It becomes a searchable entry on the net for the new generation so that they don’t do the same mistake.
Yes, to run the internet and your computer at home, vast amount of energy used. We don’t know if this energy is ethically produced (most probably not) let alone complying with permaculture principles. But we have options. It is there as a resource, to learn, share, improve something and put it into good use at least. Maybe we can offset the energy used to run the internet by learning, implementing, capturing the carbon a little.