Preppers were once considered among the more radical fringes of American Society, but now they are coming up with some of the more interesting ideas in sustainability.
Suppose that some financial calamity were to bring the economy to a standstill, would your education, intellect, wisdom, civility, and knowledge evaporate along with it? Of course not, but that is exactly the danger that we face.
The inability to access, coordinate, and deploy our vast endowment of American knowledge assets may be the cause, not the effect, of that proverbial breakdown in social institutions for which the Preppers prep.
While today’s Preppers are busy stockpiling survival gear, food, water, ammo, fuel, and even gas masks, the rest of us should be asking ”where are we stockpiling community knowledge?” Who will keep the water clean? Who knows how to restore electricity or grow food? Who knows how to protect citizens? Who knows how to remove a set a broken bone? Who knows how to teach children to read? Who knows how to fix stuff?
The Sequestration of Knowledge
The greatest danger to human survival may be the corporate sequestration of knowledge assets. For example; corporations hold “knowledge” behind trade secrets, arcane job titles, and rigid processes where nobody from the outside can ever find or apply it. Obviously, a company without knowledge cannot produce anything so understandably – whether we realize it or not – our most productive knowledge assets are locked up pretty tight behind the guilded walls of Wall Street. This is not anyone’s fault – it is just the way we are organized.
It is time to evolve.
On the surface, a company that makes airplanes and a company that makes electric cars have very little in common. An airplane company could never hire an engineer from a car company (and vice versa) because the job descriptions, production processes, and definitions of responsibility are cut from entirely different performance regimes. Yet, as far as the engineer is concerned, the methods, systems and techniques for creating, say, graphite composite structures, are identical everywhere on Earth. If many industry could share engineers, not only would a great deal of diversity of new ideas be exposed, but cyclical layoffs could be avoided.
The Knowledge Commons:
What if a central knowledge inventory would represent all skills, talents, passions, and intentions of a community? What if companies were to index their own skills ontology to a public knowledge commons instead of isolating their workers to the silos of internal processes? Employees and companies would be more mobile and collaborative instead of secluded, protective, and competitive.
Social Equity Swaps
Suppose that a community could analyze their knowledge commons such that people could swap jobs so that everyone worked in the most qualified job that was also closest to their own home? Billions of dollars worth of productivity could be preserved, billions of dollars worth of infrastructure could be preserved, and billions of units of energy could be saved. Worker retention would rise and community unity would improve.
Free Market Enterprise
Suppose a company could read the knowledge commons of a community and produce the things that a community is naturally talented and interested in producing? Quality would improve and costs would be reduced. Innovation would increase and strong community collaboration will discourage competitors.
Everyone is an entrepreneur
Suppose that people (and companies) could locate to areas where there is a known deficit (or surplus) in their particular interest and passion? Risk and financial volatility would be reduced where people know that they will have a prosperous and interesting career / workforce. Population density could decrease as people and companies locate to rural settings. Countless billions will be saved on infrastructure as food and energy production can coexist with enterprise centers.
How to change everything without changing anything
These are just a few of the advantages of having a knowledge commons that is open sourced and readily accessible to markets instead of sequestered knowledge assets that force people to question their ability to survive in the future economic environment. The next several blog posts will specify a possible system and structure for a public knowledge commons.