Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Ten Percent Solution...the curtain pulls away

This is the part where I pull back the curtain a little bit, this is the part where I reveal myself in some small way. Before I left for the woods, before I became a donkey wizard and a horticulturist in earnest I used to be somebody. At the start of the virtual reality boom I had a consult office..."Conceptual Artist". We had Dutch clients and American clients and I even helped build an early wind power demonstration station.

Then something happened.

There was a shift in the way that I saw the world. Perhaps it was the first nascent attempts of the dynabook to be born in the form of the OLPC, our decades long held dream of making a book that was all books, a tablet that was also a connection to a real live teacher and available to all children. The dream was coming to life as the first leaping extreme scale collaborative efforts to reach children globally were undertaken. Within a year the entire industry shifted towards production of smaller more inexpensive laptops. Linux started to be a household word and systems like Ubuntu became part of the new currency of systemic social connection as the somewhat technically adept undertook the conversion of the older systems in their immediate tribal family or group and upgraded them to Ubuntu, adding in the great open source artists tools Open Office, GIMP, Inkscape and Blender 3D. Bringing people into the open source community one re-formatted hard drive at a time so that they could learn the language of the mesh.

Everyone can speak the language of the mesh now.

So I had this crisis and I fired all my bosses. This was back during the dark ages of the second generation Bush Administration. I mean I fired *all* of my bosses...I fired the entire industrial complex. As an artist I was tired of the circular draining logic of their demands. The worst parts of society in my eyes had become a giant droning commercial for itself.

I made the children my only clients.

Phones were the key. A talk I had with Scott McNeil the Linux standards guy (LSB) helped me understand what I was searching for; I wanted to bring educational materials and connectivity to the children trapped in the brothel system, and I wanted to do it with the cellphone. It was an inspiring conversation as part of a classic mash up orchestrated by my pal Danese the open source diva. I hoped that they could work from the top down while I gathered up steam from the bottom up with the great hue ansd cry of Open Source "ALL BOATS MUST RISE!".

My reasoning was that phones would be everywhere, including becoming quickly integrated into the lives and hands of children in the brothel system. Phones have a certain social cachet that laptops distributed by totalitarian government programs do not.

A phone doesn't have much, however it can deliver games and flash cards.

As an interdisciplinary student who studied quite a lot of science including Organic Chemistry (I was pre-med for some eight years) I can tell you that flash cards are probably the most powerful teaching aid I have ever used aside from actual physical models. In combination with real concentrated effort you can go far.

The first key is reaching the children who are natural teachers so they can in turn reach other children. Trusting the desire of children to help each other. The second is making the instructional materials and models available so they can actually participate in improving the quality of their own lives. Of all of our lives in turn. We need to increase the number of useful mesh models that are openly available to teach all sorts of subjects and that can be downloaded shared and fabbed at the local fabbers or using a reprap.

Of course it was the creation of these open source teaching models that we now easily fab that got me interested in learning 3D modeling in the first place. My first classes in Blender were in the 3D virtual Second Life setting. My interest in Blender 3D gathered most of my attention as I ascended the steep learning curve of the mesh world. At the other end I found csven in the game, and other fabbers and virtual students who are interested in Augmented Manipulatives and the idea of directly translating learning environments into physical learning aids.

Beyond all that is still the primary objective. And to that end I am asking you to join me, and to ask other people to join us as well. The ten percent solution is about people with privilege and their needs met looking after people struggling with the most basic issues in human existence like water, food, health care, shelter, education, and fellowship.

From a distance using the information at hand it is possible to help establish microeducation. You can organize a local town or church to adopt an orphanage, or gather resources to be brought along on projects already existing in your community. You can help create flash cards for handheld devices and organize cellphone and computer donations. Many communities have gifted individuals working within them to try and meet the needs of these same children right in your own neighborhoods. We have not spoken about it at all openly in the superstruct discussions but prostitution still exists and is one of the most dangerous environments that children find themselves helplessly born into.

We can all find a way to participate in this problem, even just by talking openly about it.

Give ten percent of your time to finding an answer.
The Ten Percent Solution.

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