Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Clash of Harmony

A building of a single color or without any color at all has color harmony, so H5 = 2. If different colors are used, one has to estimate how well the various hues blend to create an overall color harmony. Even with bright colors, a harmonious ensemble has H5 = 2. The departure from a unified color effect – something unbalanced, clashing, or garish – lowers H5 to zero. - Nikos A. Salingaros

The blue roof beside the Charles Bridge was something of the most annoying at my trip to Prague. It totally clashed with the enormous wholeness of the place.


Mala Strana, Prague. There's no blue roof here, the wholeness of the place is complete.

THE LINK TO BIOLOGICAL LIFE
The notion of “life” in architecture is due to Alexander (3), who has worked very hard to achieve it in his own buildings (16, 17, 18). Our formulation attempts to codify some of Alexander’s results. More than just creating a utilitarian structure, mankind strives to approach the intrinsic qualities of biological forms in its traditional and vernacular architectures. This result is not obvious, because very few buildings actually copy living forms: the resemblance is obtained by raising L via the structural temperature and harmony.

Starting initially from a traditionalist point of view, Charles, the Prince of Wales has also discovered style-independent rules that raise the architectural life. He calls these his ten principles (10). Although the approach and details are different, these developments are supported both by Alexander’s results, and by the model of this paper. The links between biological and architectural life are now being recognized formally. We are witnessing a convergence of ideas coming from several different directions, and forming an entirely new approach to architecture.

One class of examples of artificial objects that mimic living forms is beautiful self-similar fractal curves. The design temperature T of fractal curves is very high; the harmony H is also very high because they are self-similar (any portion, when magnified by a fixed factor, looks exactly like the original form) (4). Therefore, they have a high degree of architectural life L . As is well-known, fractal pictures resembling natural objects provide excellent representations(4), and this property serves to support our model.

The connection between biological life and architecture arises from the thermodynamics of living forms. Life is the result of an enormous amount of purposeful complication. Biological organisms are marvelously connected on all different levels, and they are characterized by very high design temperature and harmony. The connective thought processes underlying cognition themselves mimic the thermodynamic and connective structures that are characteristic of living forms. This helps to explain our instinct to relate to forms having a high degree of architectural life.

The architectural temperature mimics the activity of life processes, which is highly organized and structured. It should not be surprising that living beings instinctively copy the intrinsic qualities of living systems in their own creations. How can humans put an image of life into a building? Apart from figurative icons and statues, we work with emotions: structures are carefully tailored to generate positive psychological and physiological responses. Far from merely being a plausible hypothesis, this model suggests that humans have a basic need to raise the architectural life of their environment. - Nikos A. Salingaros
I strongly recommend reading carefully the whole essay by my good friend professor Nikos A. Salingaros!

Life and Complexity in Architecture From a Thermodynamic Analogy


This illustration is added to the essay as published in A Theory of Architecture

The architecture by Vltava in Prague is clustered in the upper corner, while the architecture of the fjord city Oslo is on the bottom line

The new face of the fjord city Oslo, here is almost no life. The architecture is following the line between minimalism and deconstructivism, no traditional symmetries or patterns are to be found. An extreme expression of nihilism and anti-nature.

The architecture of the river city Prague is all clustering in the upper corner of the triangle, full of life. 

Only in the archipelago of Lofoten in Northern Norway I've experienced the same overwhelming wholeness as I did in Prague, as they are both an unfolding of the 15 geometric properties as nature unfolds through. Lofoten and Prague is the same thing, the same properties unfolding into an extreme wholeness, both making us in touch with the "I", or God.
Stemming from evidence-based design, neuroergonomics is a discipline that merges neuroscience and ergonomics in order to match design with human biological and psycho-neuro-immunological wellness. It scientifically upholds the call for a human-centred design by overhauling the user experience design, because it measures the real psycho-physical effects regardless of fashion, ideology, culture, or current use. - Stefano Serafini

Sunday, June 15, 2014

In Search of the Commons

Puplished at Resilience.org, USA, on June 10, 2014. Published at P2P-Foundation on June 7, 2014.

I have the pleasure to host Petros from Freelab from Lublin in Poland. He is travelling Norway in search of positive and inspirational commons projects of all kinds. People warned me he might be a fortune seeker, but I’ve come to learn he’s true, and not at least a very important evangelist of the commons. When I learned he has cooperated with international “stars” like David Bollier, already translating his new book Think Like a Commoner into Polish language, making it downloadable for free, I was amazed about his efforts. Yesterday he found the book Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian in my bookshelf, and he behaved like he had found a diamond, wanting to translate this book into Polish as well. It’s a big inspiration to have such a devoted commoner visiting you, as the market thought and individualism is about to suffocate Norway.

Petros visited me on the recommendation of Michel Bauwens, and he thought I had some interesting projects going on. I was sorry to disappoint him. My most important project is to set up a number of articles at Kulturverk.com, which I eventually hope to work into a book about a new ingroup society based on an idea by Terje Bongard. But I’m happy that I can offer him an excellent weather at his stay here.

Petros and my wife strolling in the nice weather

Me: You told me that you were a rich man with your own company in software and internet security, but that during the financial crisis you went bankrupt and lost everything, including your house and your wife. From what I understand this experience has changed your life dramatically, and eventually inspired you to devote your life to the worldwide commons project. Can you tell me more about this experience?

Petros: Actually I already had a plan to sell my company some day and to turn towards social activity. Many entrepreneurs share such dreams. In 2011 I became financially broke, but I did make it through this period of time thanks to my partner Natasha, who I do now live with. Then we decided to turn this situation into an opportunity.

Getting “through the viewing glass” into the out-of-the Matrix world we learned three fundamental things:
  1. One has to have a clear goal for one’s life. We didn’t want to leave Poland for search of a better life, but to stay here doing something good for our community. 
  2. One should not engage in any kind of criminal activity, so to keep the moral and personal integrity intact. 
  3. One should search for kindred spirits and cooperate with them, as no one will survive alone. 
The good thing about losing everything is that it forces you to become flexible and to search for new opportunities. Many people become stuck in life, and having money and a comfortable life keep you from taking chances.

Me: Can you tell a little about your community in Poland?

Petros: In September 2013 we joined a newly established urban community, known as the “Independent Social Center Cicha 4″ (http://Cicha4.org). The goal of Cicha 4 is to provide space and facilities for all off-mainstream groups in Lublin, trying to develop freedom-oriented, noncommercial initiatives. This is 100% informal community, with no external financing, except from the member groups’ contribution. Our role was to support the adaptation and maintenance of the building, supervise it over the winter, as well as to help the community grow and stabilize. We achieved it with certain amount of personal struggle, and now the growing group of young people will take it over, leaving us free to follow our new projects.

Me: You mentioned there is a difference between your P2P (peer to peer) – approach and the one of Michel Bauwens. Can you specify this?

Petros: With Michel, as I see it, we are working on the same issues, but from opposite angles. P2P approach focuses on (loosely understood) the production area, only indirectly influencing social life beyond that. It says, sort of, “let’s make automobiles, or launch satellites, the better, more humane way”. Of course, if people change the way they interact in the production area, they consequently will change the way they live the rest of their lives.

My approach (we consider it “anarcho-positivism”) goes the opposite way. Beginning from the “ex-work” social life, we try to establish – for each given community – the way to fulfill its members’ needs. Some of them can be fulfilled through the community-managed consumption (traditional commons: water, wood, food); some – by the way of prosumption (distributed generation of electricity); some, finally, via P2P production and exchange of goods. However, to us, the primary factor is the desired structure of needs.

Of course, what we do at Freelab is much less advanced or expanded than what P2P Foundation does. I admire Michel’s energy and efficiency – we could use somebody like him in our anarchopositivist movement as well.

Me: The encapsulation of the former fishing commons in Norway is a disaster, as they are more and more held by a few companies and billionaires. There's a revolt against this tragedy among the coastal communities these days.

Before you arrived here you had been to the area of Flekkefjord in Southern Norway. I’m happy to learn that they have not yet managed to kill of the communal spirit of the old fishing communities. Can you please share your most important observations seen from a commons perspective?

Petros: I visited a couple old fishing places in Southern Norway and realized that the only part of the industry that is still alive is the angling trip organization. One of the old fishermen told me that now the biggest catch in his nets is always a fresh set of fishing hooks that the German anglers lose perpetually. “We do not buy hooks anymore.” he said. But this is not enough to save the traditional fishing in Norway. As long as there is no way for a fisherman to sell the catch directly; as long as local fish stores lose their market to networked hypermarkets; as long as the local community has no say about local pooled resources, there is no hope.

Photo: Øyvind Holmstad / Wikimedia Commons

To me, as a commoner, cooperatist and anarchopositivist, it is quite obvious that some sort of revolution is needed. Local resources should be returned to local communities. Fishermen’s cooperatives should be formed and should be given the right (and responsibility) to manage fishing areas, with the priority of rebuilding resources and keeping them sustainable & resilient. The fishing quota should be locally defined – with some help from scientific experts – and distributed. Most of the technological processes should be performed locally (food is considered local if it travels not more than 80 km between the producer and final consumer). Only highly processed products should leave local community areas.

Cooperatives should take over the whole vertical chain of production and distribution. This will keep money and management close to the source of goods – and to the people. This is the approach we applied in our concept of the industrial hemp reintroduction in Poland. And it works very well.

In this kind of revolution, money would flow, instead of blood. But I believe, as it concerns the most traditional and culturally important industry in Norway, it would be a really good way to spend some oil money to support local communities throughout the country.

Me: From my point of view all people will naturally become commoners if the architecture is right. I will quota a little piece of Christopher Alexander showing that he has a very strong P2P-approach:
My conclusion is that careful construction of the world, according to the principle that every center is made to be related to the true I of the maker, will result in a world which is practical, harmonious, functional. If this is true, astonishingly then, it would appear that the safest road to the creation of living structure is one in which people do what is most nearly in their hearts: that they make each part in such a way that it reflects their true feeling, in such a way that it makes them feel wholesome in themselves and is, in this sense, related in the deepest way to their own true I.

For someone educated in the 20th-century way of looking at the world, this is enigmatic, if not ridiculous. It means that a world constructed in the most personal and individual fashion, made by people who are searching deeply to follow the nature of their own true I, their own true selves, will be – in the most public, objective, and universal sense – a world which is functional, adequate and harmonious.

The enigma which arises, then, is that the process by which human beings create the world in their own image, gradually creates a living world, and this is – apparently – the best, and most efficient way in which a living world can be created. Of course, the phrase “in their own image” requires that it be the true self they are looking for; and implies that this larger process of building the world cannot be separated from each person’s personal search for the true self. — Christopher Alexander, The Luminous Ground, page 142
Here in Norway it is almost completely illegal to form the world in your own true image. We might call ourselves a free country, celebrating the 200-years anniversary for our constitution this year, but as we on a community level are not free to form our own environments, we are in my opinion not free at all, or at the best only half free. Do you agree that this freedom to form your own community physically is of the uttermost importance to creating a new realm of the commons?

Petros: On this issue I have mixed feelings. We are all interdependent, so the “absolute freedom” – especially in the space shaping – is dangerous. The Lockean concept of property “absolute, despotic domain over something” became the core of the market nightmare we are trying to awake from. However, as an anarchist, I fully support the position, that the state should not be allowed to intervene, at least as long as the local community can manage things. As David Bollier brilliantly points out, there are several levels of commons, and we have yet to develop ways of managing them all. Let’s consider water. There is an irrigation system (the common resource), managed by a community. But there is also a river, which is the source of water for several irrigation systems and which is a commons in itself. Then, we have the drainage basin, feeding the river, comprising also several various common-resource systems. They are all heavily interdependent. So it is a governance problem, how to distribute freedom (or its constraints) evenly – or justly.

David Bollier develops a very interesting concept, involving the state as a guardian of the commons. I am less enthusiastic about that. But I admit that the problem of interdependence is probably the biggest issue we face in the commons movement.

I want to add that Petros has not read Alexanders A Pattern Language. In it Alexander makes a system where the lower patterns are connected to patterns of higher order, just like the small creek is connected to the river, the lake and eventually the whole watershed. When a community follows the Pattern Language there’s no chance it will harm the larger community. If it harms the community they are applying anti-patterns, something that should not be allowed. In Alexander’s latest book, The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth, he shows how they used the Pattern Language to engage the whole school, teachers and students, to make a beautiful pattern language as the basis for the construction of the campus.

For further insight see the article “Peer-to-Peer Themes and Urban Priorities for the Self-organizing Society“, by Nikos A. Salingaros

Me: You have also been to Greece. As I see it their crisis has made them long and reach for the commons, while Norway’s wealth and self-confidence rather has made us leave the commons. In spite of Greece’s crisis, do you think Greece is heading for a better future than Norway in the long run?

Petros: Assuming we share the same meaning of the word “better”, I would say that close cooperation would benefit both sides. Greece is right now a bustling social laboratory, with hundreds, if not thousands of various initiatives – not just in the commons area. Studying them and learning from their successes (I am less interested in failures) would give an edge to Norwegian future initiatives. In Greece there is a growing theoretical reflection upon their grass-root experience. And they definitively could use some scholarship money in this area. If Norway can import so many goods, why not import some useful knowledge, for a change?

The bottom line is again – no society can thrive alone. As it was phrased by a Russian anarchist, Count Piotr Kropotkin: “Cooperative species thrive, uncooperative perish.”

Me: What are the plans for the rest of your journey throughout Norway?

Petros: I plan to stay in Norway till September, with occasional trip to Sweden, perhaps. Later, if my talk is accepted, I will also attend the conference “Enlightened Anarchism” in Lapland University, Rovaniemi, Finland. Until then, it all depends on funding available. My basic plan is to stay around Gjøvik for at least a couple weeks, getting involved in local community life (I plan to take part in certain “dugnad” activities). If I raise enough money, I will then head North, at least up to Trondheim. If I am extremely lucky in earning money, I would also like to see Tromsø and northern communities, before I leave.

But even if not this time, I already know I will return next year to continue my fascinating Norwegian adventure with the commons and grassroots communities.

Petros tent in my backyard

Follow Petros journey through Norway here.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

“Mirror of Self” - Test

Download the pdf:


What is Order?
What is order? We know that everything in the world around us is governed by an immense orderliness. We experience order every time we take a walk. The grass, the sky, the leaves on the trees, the flowing water in the river, the windows in the houses along the street—all of it is immensely orderly. It is this order which makes us gasp when we take our walk. It is the changing arrangement of the sky, the clouds, the flowers, leaves, the faces round about us, the order, the dazzling geometrical coherence, together with its meaning in our minds. But this geometry which means so much, which makes us feel the presence of order so clearly—we do not have a language for it.
In the world-view initiated by Descartes—and largely accepted by scientists in the 20th century—it is believed that the only statements which can be true or false are statements about mechanisms. These are the so-called “facts” familiar to everyone in the 20th century.

In the world-view I am presenting, a second kind of statement is also considered capable of being true or false. These are statements about the relative degree of life, degree of harmony, or degree of wholeness—in short, statements about value. In the view I hold, these statements about relative wholeness are also factual, and are the essential statements. They play a more fundamental role than statements about mechanisms.

Statements of Fact in the 20th Century
“One door frame is more harmonious and more in keeping with the life of the room than another door frame.” “One door creates more life in the room than another door.” “A pale yellow on this door has more life than a dark grey.” Within the canon of 20th century science, these are not considered statements which can be true or false. They are thought of as statements of opinion. As a matter of principle within the 20th century mechanistic view, statements of this kind may not be considered potentially true or false.
A New Concept of Life
So—my aim in this book is to create a scientific view of the world in which this concept —that everything has its degree of life—is well defined. We can then ask very precise questions about what must be done to create life in the world—whether in a single room, even in a doorknob, or in a neighborhood, or in a vast region . . . . 
"We can then ask very precise questions about what must be done to create life in the world—whether in a single room, even in a doorknob, or in a neighborhood, or in a vast region . . . ."

This is my neighborhood. I have asked myself these questions and got very concrete answers, based on the “Mirror of Self” test. I care very much about this neighborhood, and my dream is to fill it with this new concept of life.

Unfortunately it was created under a Cartesian world view, so both to achieve life, and to achieve understanding for an Alexandrian world view, is very difficult.

LIFE
I claim that this quality is not merely the basis for a distinction between beautiful things and ugly things. It is something which is detectable as a subtle distinction, in every corner of the world, as we walk about, in the most ordinary places, during the most ordinary events. It is a quality which changes from place to place and from moment to moment, and which marks, in varying degrees, every moment, every event, every point in space.
What we call “life” is a general condition which exists, to some degree or other, in every part of space: brick, stone, grass, river, painting, building, daffodil, human being, forest, city. And further: The key to this idea is that every part of space—every connected region of space, small or large—has some degree of life, and that this degree of life is well-defined, objectively existing, and measurable.
Cartesian Scientific Observation
  • Objectivity is based on being able to share results
  • Observations of limited events that are tied to limited and machine-like view of some phenomenon—creates a circumstance in which we all reach roughly the same results when we do the same experiments. This gives us a shared picture.
  • Primarily sight, perhaps hearing, smell, and touch; and the recordings of machines
Alexandrian Scientific Observation
  • The inner feelings of the observer are taken into account
  • How does an observation increase or decrease the observer’s feeling of wholeness
  • If this sort of observation can be reliably shared, it is as “objective” as Cartesian observation
  • Alexander calls it the “Mirror of Self” test
The “Mirror of Self” test developed by Christopher Alexander is also discussed by J.A. Arnfinsen and N.A. Salingaros in this interview: 


Please everyone, read the following paper by Richard P. Gabriel at IBM Research. It gives a VERY good introduction to the “Mirror of Self” test! 

Let the “Mirror of Self” test guide your life, be always true to your feelings whatever people try to ridicule you! Remember that they are just poor people stuck in a mechanical world-view. This test is based upon scientific empirical findings, and is true! Don't let people mock you for your feelings! They are a true response upon the WHOLENESS of OUR world.  

Download the pdf:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Eneboligen, et av vår tids store indoktrineringsprosjekt

- Douglas Rushkoff on debt, outsourcing and suburban isolation: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/...

Her følger et utdrag som Vi i villa absolutt burde publisert, slik at alle i villa kunne forstå at de er et resultat av dyktig planlegging og manipulering, for å kvele alle former for opprørske tendenser. Villaens posisjon i den norske folkesjela er i høyeste grad medvirkende til å gjøre de norske byer og tettsteder, ja hele det norske samfunn, til verdens kjedeligste.

Det er denne kjedsomheten og meningsløsheten som får nordmenn til å drømme om hyttelivet, hvor de bygger nye hytte-villaer i fjellet i hyttevillaområder mistenkelig like de de forsøker å flykte fra. Indoktrineringen, og med det fantasiløsheten, er total!

Villaen og hyttevillaen er også av de største bidragsyterne til det bilmarerittet vi opplever i dag.

Det finnes i tiden enkelte initiativ, sterkt mislikt og undertrykt av byråkrater, utbyggere og villaeiere, som forsøker å gjøre hjemmet til et sted heller enn en ting. Jeg vil nevne noen:






For den som kjenner til handikapprinsippet er det helt klart at eneboligen er et uttrykk for de mørkeste krefter i menneskesinnet, det ytterste mottrekk til inngruppe-samfunnet, som jeg skriver bok om. Et kapittel i boka må selvsagt bli Vi i villa, basert på denne teksten av Rushkoff. Håper å få skrevet dette som en artikkel hos Kulturverk i løpet av neste år.


Eneboligen, kanskje vår tids største indoktrineringsprosjekt?
DR: From the 1920s to the 1970s an iconography was developed that turned corporations into our heroes. Instead of me buying stuff from people I know, I actually trust the Quaker Oat Man more than you. This is the result of public relations campaigns, and the development of public relations as a profession.

PN: Did the rise of PR just happen, or did they have to do that in order to prevent things from getting out of control?

DR: They had to do that in order to prevent things from getting out of control. The significant points in the development of public relations were all at crisis moments. For example, labor movements; it’s not just that labor was revolting but that people were seeing that labor was revolting. There was a need to re-fashion the stories so that people would think that labor activists were bad scary people, so that people would think they should move to the suburbs and insulate themselves from these throngs of laborers, from “the masses.” Or to return to the Quaker Oats example, people used to look at long-distance-shipped factory products with distrust. Here’s a plain brown box, it’s being shipped from far away, why am I supposed to buy this instead of something from a person I’ve known all my life? A mass media is necessary to make you distrust your neighbor and transfer your trust to an abstract entity, the corporation, and believe it will usher in a better tomorrow and all that.

It got the most crafty after WWII when all the soldiers were coming home. FDR was in cahoots with the PR people. Traumatized vets were coming back from WWII, and everyone knew these guys were freaked out and fucked up. We had enough psychology and psychiatry by then to know that these guys were badly off, they knew how to use weapons, and — this was bad! If the vets came back into the same labor movement that they left before WWII, it would have been all over. So the idea was that we should provide houses for these guys, make them feel good, and we get the creation of Levittown and other carefully planned developments designed with psychologists and social scientists. Let’s put these vets in a house, let’s celebrate the nuclear family.

PN: So home becomes a thing, rather than a series of relationships?

DR: The definition of home as people use the word now means “my house,” rather than what it had been previously, which was “where I’m from.’” My home’s New York, what’s your home?

PN: Right, my town.

DR: Where are you from? Not that “structure.” But they had to redefine home, and they used a lot of government money to do it. They created houses in neighborhoods specifically designed to isolate people from one another, and prevent men in particular from congregating and organizing — there are no social halls, no beer halls in these developments. They wanted men to be busy with their front lawns, with three fruit trees in every garden, with home fix-it-up projects; for the women, the kitchen will be in the back where they can see the kids playing in the back yard.

PN: So you don’t see the neighbors going by. No front porch.

DR: Everything’s got to be individual, this was all planned! Any man that has a mortgage to pay is not going to be a revolutionary. With that amount to pay back, he’s got a stake in the system. True, he’s on the short end of the stick of the interest economy, but in 30 years he could own his own home. - Douglas Rushkoff

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Herstal blendingsfri vinduslampe lever opp til forventningene og vel så det!

Kjøpte nettopp ei Herstal bordlampe for å ha i vinduskarmen, en ubetinget suksess. Her følger en bildeserie. En rein nytelse. Dette må være århundrets lampe!

HERSTAL Y1944, en enkel, genial og rimelig vinduslame helt uten blending. Legg spesielt merke til den tiltbare skjermen. Hvis du ønsker ei vinduslampe uten forstyrrende blendingspunkt for dine naboer, eller for deg selv innendørs, er denne innertieren fra Herstal et naturlig førstevalg. Den finnes i svart, kvit og glatt oransje.

Den geniale skjermen kan tiltes i alle retninger slik at du får lyset dit du vil

Se hvor nydelig den tar seg ut utenfra, helt uten blendingspunkt som forstyrrer evt. naboer. Jeg vil kalle den intet mindre enn ei fredslampe!


Hvilken harmoni!



Her er det kun installert ei halogenpære med et svakt amber-aktig lys, men med ekte amber-LED ville man fått en nirvansk effekt

Fordi utforinga bare er på 11 cm mens standard diameter på bordlamper er 15 cm, måtte jeg lage til ei lita hylle den kan stå på.

Et alternativ er å kappe den til etter lampefoten og avrunde den etter denne i forkant.



Lampa står meget godt, da sokkelen er tung og har en slags filt som nærmest suger seg fast til underlaget.

Et tredje alternativ er å lage ei egen hylle ca 1/3 opp på vinduet, hvor man kunne ha lampa, blomster og pynt. Dette kunne gi en fin inndeling samt dempe innsyn.

Les Christian Lysvågs artikkel i Aftenposten Innsikt:

Om lysets og mørkets fremtid 

HERSTAL Y1944 er et solid bidrag for å bevare mørket. La oss få på plass et lovverk som beskytter mennesker mot stygge blendingspunkt og bevisstløs lysspredning. Vi lever i dag i en normløs orgie av lys og støy!

Les mer om lysvett her.
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