we-are-star-stuff:

If you really want a headache (the good kind), take a long look at this “photo”. No, this is not a photo of the cosmic microwave background radiation (which you can actually see for yourself if you change your television channel to one of the “fuzzy” stations) nor is it a collection of graphs of a cell structure. So, instead of telling you what it isn’t, how about I tell you what it is? This is, well… everything. Everything we can see and observe anyway. What you’re looking at is the “observable” universe. This particular map has a cellular appearance due to how the galaxies tend to collect into vast sheets and super clusters of stars that are surrounded by stunningly large voids in between them. You and I and everything we’ve ever known are smack in the middle there, along with our Local group, which is a part of the larger Virgo Supercluster.  All of those other dots are also superclusters, each containing perhaps trillions of stars.Since the speed of light is a constant in the vacuum of space, there is an outer edge to what is observable from Earth. That outer edge is defined by the objects within 14 billion years away (how old the universe is estimated to be), which is the time it would take for the light from these distant objects to reach us here on Earth. In this sense, the objects that are the farthest away from us are literally some of the earliest stars and galaxies in the young universe. it’s quite likely that the stars we’re observing are no longer burning and the ones that have formed from the gases expelled during the supernova of the previous stars are in another place entirely.Since the universe has been expanding indefinitely since the big bang, the number of objects seen in the observable universe will shorten with time and it will appear as if the universe is much smaller than it does now - due to the light not having the proper amount of time to travel to the distant reaches of the universe. This expansion that’s going on in all directions is also the reason why our solar system appears to lie in the middle of the universe. In fact, every inhabited planet circling a distant star will look out into the universe and they will see that the universe is expanding away from them, giving the impression that they are located smack in the center of it all.The “observable” universe consists of:
10 million superclusters
25 billion galaxy groups
350 billion large galaxies
7 trillion dwarf galaxies
30 billion trillion (3X10^22) stars (of which almost 30 stars go supernova per second)
According to some math that I have no desire to go into, if you imagine the size of the observable universe (13.7 billion light-years) to be that of one nucleus of an atom and compare that with the size of the unobservable universe, then the total universe is 10 billion times larger than the size of the unobservable universe compared to a nucleus of an atom AND IT WILL CONTINUE TO GET BIGGER.You can look at those numbers here. Keep in mind that it’s impossible for us to know the exact size of the unobservable universe, so the above is an estimation. It could be much larger than that!
[Continue reading →]

we-are-star-stuff:

If you really want a headache (the good kind), take a long look at this “photo”. No, this is not a photo of the cosmic microwave background radiation (which you can actually see for yourself if you change your television channel to one of the “fuzzy” stations) nor is it a collection of graphs of a cell structure. So, instead of telling you what it isn’t, how about I tell you what it is? This is, well… everything. Everything we can see and observe anyway. What you’re looking at is the “observable” universe. This particular map has a cellular appearance due to how the galaxies tend to collect into vast sheets and super clusters of stars that are surrounded by stunningly large voids in between them. You and I and everything we’ve ever known are smack in the middle there, along with our Local group, which is a part of the larger Virgo Supercluster.  All of those other dots are also superclusters, each containing perhaps trillions of stars.

Since the speed of light is a constant in the vacuum of space, there is an outer edge to what is observable from Earth. That outer edge is defined by the objects within 14 billion years away (how old the universe is estimated to be), which is the time it would take for the light from these distant objects to reach us here on Earth. In this sense, the objects that are the farthest away from us are literally some of the earliest stars and galaxies in the young universe. it’s quite likely that the stars we’re observing are no longer burning and the ones that have formed from the gases expelled during the supernova of the previous stars are in another place entirely.

Since the universe has been expanding indefinitely since the big bang, the number of objects seen in the observable universe will shorten with time and it will appear as if the universe is much smaller than it does now - due to the light not having the proper amount of time to travel to the distant reaches of the universe. This expansion that’s going on in all directions is also the reason why our solar system appears to lie in the middle of the universe. In fact, every inhabited planet circling a distant star will look out into the universe and they will see that the universe is expanding away from them, giving the impression that they are located smack in the center of it all.

The “observable” universe consists of:

  • 10 million superclusters
  • 25 billion galaxy groups
  • 350 billion large galaxies
  • 7 trillion dwarf galaxies
  • 30 billion trillion (3X10^22) stars (of which almost 30 stars go supernova per second)

According to some math that I have no desire to go into, if you imagine the size of the observable universe (13.7 billion light-years) to be that of one nucleus of an atom and compare that with the size of the unobservable universe, then the total universe is 10 billion times larger than the size of the unobservable universe compared to a nucleus of an atom AND IT WILL CONTINUE TO GET BIGGER.

You can look at those numbers here

Keep in mind that it’s impossible for us to know the exact size of the unobservable universe, so the above is an estimation. It could be much larger than that!

[Continue reading →]

"Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result — eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly — in you."
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything (via thedragoninmygarage)
pennyfornasa:

Knowing a fact like that really makes you stop and wonder. Science can make life around you very poetic once you truly understand what you are looking at and try and make sense of it. NASA is an organization that wows us time and time again and sometimes it’s hard to even appreciate the hard work that goes along with it.
For example, landing Curiosity on Mars in 2012 was astounding feat for many people who didn’t know how incredibly difficult it was to accomplish. It’s why NASA plays a significant role in inspiring people to dream again and to dare for greatness. We face a time where NASA needs support from all over and help to communicate why NASA is truly inspiring and great. Think about all the technology we use in everyday life that was made possible by NASA, the heroes that went to the Moon and came back to tell the story, or the International Space Station which is a monument to international cooperation. NASA not only resonates with the American people, but the rest of the world. NASA means something different to everybody.
So let’s all work together, spread the message, and take action today. Visit  penny4nasa.org/take-action/
Also her are some links to the past COSMOS episodes:
Episode 1: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep1
Episode 2: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep2
Episode 3: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep3
Episode 4: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep4
Episode 5: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep5

pennyfornasa:

Knowing a fact like that really makes you stop and wonder. Science can make life around you very poetic once you truly understand what you are looking at and try and make sense of it. NASA is an organization that wows us time and time again and sometimes it’s hard to even appreciate the hard work that goes along with it.

For example, landing Curiosity on Mars in 2012 was astounding feat for many people who didn’t know how incredibly difficult it was to accomplish. It’s why NASA plays a significant role in inspiring people to dream again and to dare for greatness. We face a time where NASA needs support from all over and help to communicate why NASA is truly inspiring and great. Think about all the technology we use in everyday life that was made possible by NASA, the heroes that went to the Moon and came back to tell the story, or the International Space Station which is a monument to international cooperation. NASA not only resonates with the American people, but the rest of the world. NASA means something different to everybody.

So let’s all work together, spread the message, and take action today. Visit  penny4nasa.org/take-action/

Also her are some links to the past COSMOS episodes:

Episode 1: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep1

Episode 2: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep2

Episode 3: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep3

Episode 4: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep4

Episode 5: http://bit.ly/COSMOS-Ep5

"Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not ‘you’. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum."
"1 -

“We talk about the ‘march from monad to man’ (old-style language again) as though evolution followed continuous pathways of progress along unbroken lineages. Nothing could be further from reality. I do not deny that, through time, the most ‘advanced’ organism has tended to increase in complexity. But the sequence from protozoan to jellyfish to trilobite to nautiloid to armored fish to dinosaur to monkey to human is no lineage at all, but a chronological set of termini on unrelated darwiniana trunks. Moreover life shows no trend to complexity in the usual sense—only an asymmetrical expansion of diversity around a starting point constrained to be simple.” - Steven Jay Gould

2 - , even though thinking humanity accepts the fact of evolution, most of us are still unwilling to abandon the comforting view that evolution means (or at least embodies a central principle of) progress defined to render the appearance of something like human consciousness either virtually inevitable or at least predictable. The pedestal is not smashed until we abandon progress or complexification as a central principle and come to entertain the strong possibility that H. sapiens is but a tiny, late-arising twig on life’s enormously arborescent bush—a small bud that would almost surely not appear a second time if we could replant the bush from seed and let it grow again.” - Steven Jay Gould — “The Evolution of Life On Earth,” Scientific American 271 (October 1994): 91.

— “Tires to Sandals,” Eight Little Piggies, New York: W. W. Norton, 1993, p. 322.

"

rollership:

mylittlerewolution:

Did you know that you can make houses out of plastic bottles? By filling them with sand, and molding them together with mud or cement, the walls created are actually bullet proof, fire proof, and will maintain an comfortable indoor temperature of 64 degrees in the summer time.

And it’s not like there is any shortage on used plastic bottles out there. Here are some statistics from treehugger.com:

“The United States uses 129.6 Million plastic bottles per day which is 47.3 Billion plastic bottles per year. About 80% of those plastic bottles end up in a landfill!”

To build a two bedroom, 1200 square foot home, it takes about 14,000 bottles.

The United States throws away enough plastic bottles to build 9257 of these 2 bedroom houses per day! That’s just over 3.35 million homes, the same number of homeless people in America.

Many people in third world countries have taken up building homes out of plastic bottles, from Africa to Asia. Perhaps the trend will catch on in America and all of those bottles will stop ending up in the landfills. Wouldn’t they be better off housing the homeless? Kinda like all those empty houses scattered all over the country?

rollership:

A Timeline of Vertical Farming by Jessica Piccolino
600 BC - King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his homesick wife, Amyitis. The Hanging Gardens encompassed an array of plants and trees, imported from Medes, overhanging the terraces within the city’s walls and up the sides of the mountain. Since the area suffered a dry climate, the gardens were watered using a chain pull system, which carried water from the Euphrates River and streamed it to each landing of the garden (Krystek).

1150 AD – Aztec Indians created chinampas, which were floating gardens of rectangular plots built on swamps. Since they were incapable of growing crops on the lake’s marshy shore, they built rafts out of reeds, stalks, and roots, topped the rafts with soil and mud from the bottom of the lake, and then drifted out to the center of the water. Crops would grow on top of the rafts as their roots grew through the rafts and down into the water. The rafts often attached together to form floating fields the size of islands (Turner).
1627 – Sir Francis Bacon first introduced the theory of hydroponic gardening and farming methods in his book Sylva Sylvarum, in which he established the idea of growing terrestrial plants without soil (Saylor).
1699 – English scientist, John Woodward, conducted water culture experiments with spearmint and found that plants would grow better in less pure water than they would in distilled water and that plants derive minerals from soil mixed into water solutions (Turner).
1909 – The earliest drawing of a vertical farm was published in Life Magazine, depicting an open-air building of vertically stacked stories of homes cultivating food for consumption (Jurkiewicz).
1915 - American geologist Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term “vertical farming” in his book, “Vertical Farming,” in which he introduced a method of underground farming contingent on the use of explosives. Multiplying the depth of fertile land, such explosives allow and enable farmers to farm deeper, while increasing area and securing larger crops. Bailey focused on less land rather than expanding as he observed it was more profitable to double the depth than double the area (Globacorp).
1922 - Seeking efficient techniques to house sizeable communities of people, Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, “Le Corbusier,” developed Immeubles-Villas, his project consisting of five-story blocks into which one hundred singular apartments are stacked on top of one another. The plan’s basic unit is the single-person apartment, each isolated from its neighbors, giving them all secluded open space imbedded with greenery (Gallagher).
1937 - In a scientific journal article, William Frederick Gericke coined the term “hydroponics,” the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil combining “hydro” meaning water, and “ponos” meaning labor (Jones).
1940 – Hydroponic systems were used in the Pacific during World War II, where US troops cultivated fresh lettuce and tomatoes on barren islands (Jones).
1972 - SITE (Sculpture in the Environment) proposed the concept “Highrise of Homes,” which calls for a conventional steel tower framework accommodating dirt plots, as it supports a vertical community of private homes (SITE).
1975 – Allan Cooperman introduced the nutrient film technique in which a thin film of nutrient solution flows through plastic channels, which contain the plant roots (Jones).
1989 – Architect Kenneth Yeang envisioned mixed-use buildings that move seamlessly with green space in which plant life can be cultivated within open air, known as vegetated architecture. This approach to vertical farming is based on personal and community use rather than production and distribution matters (Mulder).
1999 – American ecologist Dr. Dickson Despommier reinvented vertical farming, as it emerged at Columbia University, promoting the mass cultivation of plant and animal life for commercial purposes in skyscrapers (Globacorp). Vertical farms, several floors tall, will be sited in the heart of the world’s urban centers, providing sustainable production of a secure and diverse food supply, and the eventual restoration of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming (Despommier).
2006 –  Nuvege, the forerunner in technology for the innovative growth method of hydroponically grown vegetables, developed their proprietary lighting network, which increases the return rate of vegetable growth by balancing light emissions that also advance photosynthesis through amplified levels of carbon dioxide (Inada).
2009 – Sky Green Farms built a vertical farm consisting of over 100 nine-meter tall towers in Singapore where green vegetables such as bak choi and Chinese cabbage are grown, stacked in greenhouses, and sold at local supermarkets (Doucleff). Singapore’s vertical farm is the world’s first water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm that uses green urban solutions to maintain enhanced green sustainable production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables, using minimum land, water and energy resources,” (SkyGreens). It uses sunlight as its energy source, and captured rainwater to drive a pulley system to rotate the plants on the grow racks, ensuring an even circulation of sunlight for all the plants (Despommier).
2011 – Dutch agricultural company, PlantLab uses red and blue LEDs instead of sunlight in their vertical farms and grow plants in completely controlled environments. By giving the plants only blue and red light, PlantLab can avoid heating its plants up needlessly, leaving more energy for growth (Hodson).
2012 – Farmed Here, a sustainable indoor vertical farming facility opened in a 90,000 square foot post-industrial building in Bedford Park, IL. Fresh, healthy, local greens such as arugula, basil, and sweet basil vinaigrette are produced here, away from the bugs, diseases, and weather that impact most produce today (Despommier).
2012 – Local Garden, North America’s first ever VertiCrop farm, was constructed in Vancouver, Canada, shifting sustainable farming and food production practices. VertiCrop, a new technology for growing healthy, natural vegetables in a controlled environment maximizes space usage and eliminates need for pesticides. The garden is capable of growing and harvesting up to 3,500 pounds of a variety of fresh greens every week, such as kales, spinach, arugula, endive, lettuce, bak choi, escarole, basil, parsley, chards, etc. (Despommier).
SOURCE

rollership:

A Timeline of Vertical Farming by Jessica Piccolino

600 BC - King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his homesick wife, Amyitis. The Hanging Gardens encompassed an array of plants and trees, imported from Medes, overhanging the terraces within the city’s walls and up the sides of the mountain. Since the area suffered a dry climate, the gardens were watered using a chain pull system, which carried water from the Euphrates River and streamed it to each landing of the garden (Krystek).

1150 AD – Aztec Indians created chinampas, which were floating gardens of rectangular plots built on swamps. Since they were incapable of growing crops on the lake’s marshy shore, they built rafts out of reeds, stalks, and roots, topped the rafts with soil and mud from the bottom of the lake, and then drifted out to the center of the water. Crops would grow on top of the rafts as their roots grew through the rafts and down into the water. The rafts often attached together to form floating fields the size of islands (Turner).

1627 – Sir Francis Bacon first introduced the theory of hydroponic gardening and farming methods in his book Sylva Sylvarum, in which he established the idea of growing terrestrial plants without soil (Saylor).

1699 – English scientist, John Woodward, conducted water culture experiments with spearmint and found that plants would grow better in less pure water than they would in distilled water and that plants derive minerals from soil mixed into water solutions (Turner).

1909 – The earliest drawing of a vertical farm was published in Life Magazine, depicting an open-air building of vertically stacked stories of homes cultivating food for consumption (Jurkiewicz).

1915 - American geologist Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term “vertical farming” in his book, “Vertical Farming,” in which he introduced a method of underground farming contingent on the use of explosives. Multiplying the depth of fertile land, such explosives allow and enable farmers to farm deeper, while increasing area and securing larger crops. Bailey focused on less land rather than expanding as he observed it was more profitable to double the depth than double the area (Globacorp).

1922 - Seeking efficient techniques to house sizeable communities of people, Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, “Le Corbusier,” developed Immeubles-Villas, his project consisting of five-story blocks into which one hundred singular apartments are stacked on top of one another. The plan’s basic unit is the single-person apartment, each isolated from its neighbors, giving them all secluded open space imbedded with greenery (Gallagher).

1937 - In a scientific journal article, William Frederick Gericke coined the term “hydroponics,” the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil combining “hydro” meaning water, and “ponos” meaning labor (Jones).

1940 – Hydroponic systems were used in the Pacific during World War II, where US troops cultivated fresh lettuce and tomatoes on barren islands (Jones).

1972 - SITE (Sculpture in the Environment) proposed the concept “Highrise of Homes,” which calls for a conventional steel tower framework accommodating dirt plots, as it supports a vertical community of private homes (SITE).

1975 – Allan Cooperman introduced the nutrient film technique in which a thin film of nutrient solution flows through plastic channels, which contain the plant roots (Jones).

1989 – Architect Kenneth Yeang envisioned mixed-use buildings that move seamlessly with green space in which plant life can be cultivated within open air, known as vegetated architecture. This approach to vertical farming is based on personal and community use rather than production and distribution matters (Mulder).

1999 – American ecologist Dr. Dickson Despommier reinvented vertical farming, as it emerged at Columbia University, promoting the mass cultivation of plant and animal life for commercial purposes in skyscrapers (Globacorp). Vertical farms, several floors tall, will be sited in the heart of the world’s urban centers, providing sustainable production of a secure and diverse food supply, and the eventual restoration of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming (Despommier).

2006 – Nuvege, the forerunner in technology for the innovative growth method of hydroponically grown vegetables, developed their proprietary lighting network, which increases the return rate of vegetable growth by balancing light emissions that also advance photosynthesis through amplified levels of carbon dioxide (Inada).

2009 – Sky Green Farms built a vertical farm consisting of over 100 nine-meter tall towers in Singapore where green vegetables such as bak choi and Chinese cabbage are grown, stacked in greenhouses, and sold at local supermarkets (Doucleff). Singapore’s vertical farm is the world’s first water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm that uses green urban solutions to maintain enhanced green sustainable production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables, using minimum land, water and energy resources,” (SkyGreens). It uses sunlight as its energy source, and captured rainwater to drive a pulley system to rotate the plants on the grow racks, ensuring an even circulation of sunlight for all the plants (Despommier).

2011 – Dutch agricultural company, PlantLab uses red and blue LEDs instead of sunlight in their vertical farms and grow plants in completely controlled environments. By giving the plants only blue and red light, PlantLab can avoid heating its plants up needlessly, leaving more energy for growth (Hodson).

2012 – Farmed Here, a sustainable indoor vertical farming facility opened in a 90,000 square foot post-industrial building in Bedford Park, IL. Fresh, healthy, local greens such as arugula, basil, and sweet basil vinaigrette are produced here, away from the bugs, diseases, and weather that impact most produce today (Despommier).

2012 – Local Garden, North America’s first ever VertiCrop farm, was constructed in Vancouver, Canada, shifting sustainable farming and food production practices. VertiCrop, a new technology for growing healthy, natural vegetables in a controlled environment maximizes space usage and eliminates need for pesticides. The garden is capable of growing and harvesting up to 3,500 pounds of a variety of fresh greens every week, such as kales, spinach, arugula, endive, lettuce, bak choi, escarole, basil, parsley, chards, etc. (Despommier).

SOURCE

"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."
~Nikola Tesla (via mr-another)

Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism

This post is excerpted from Jeremy Rifkin’s new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, published today by Palgrave Macmillan.

(taken from Huffpost)

The capitalist era is passing… not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm — the Collaborative Commons — is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life. We are already witnessing the emergence of a hybrid economy, part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons. The two economic systems often work in tandem and sometimes compete. They are finding synergies along each other’s perimeters, where they can add value to one another, while benefiting themselves. At other times, they are deeply adversarial, each attempting to absorb or replace the other.

Although the indicators of the great transformation to a new economic system are still soft and largely anecdotal, the Collaborative Commons is ascendant and, by 2050, it will likely settle in as the primary arbiter of economic life in most of the world. An increasingly streamlined and savvy capitalist system will continue to soldier on at the edges of the new economy, finding sufficient vulnerabilities to exploit, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to flourish as a powerful niche player in the new economic era, but it will no longer reign.

What’s undermining the capitalist system is the dramatic success of the very operating assumptions that govern it. At the heart of capitalism there lies a contradiction in the driving mechanism that has propelled it ever upward to commanding heights, but now is speeding it to its death: the inherent dynamism of competitive markets that drives productivity up and marginal costs down, enabling businesses to reduce the price of their goods and services in order to win over consumers and market share. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing additional units of a good or service, if fixed costs are not counted.) While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring marginal costs to near zero, making goods and services priceless, nearly free, and abundant, and no longer subject to market forces.

The near zero marginal cost phenomenon has already wreaked havoc on the entertainment, communications, and publishing industries, as more and more information is being made available nearly free to billions of people. Today, more than forty percent of the human race is producing its own music, videos, news, and knowledge on relatively cheap cellphones and computers and sharing it at near zero marginal cost in a collaborative networked world. And now the zero marginal cost revolution is beginning to affect other commercial sectors, including renewable energy, 3D printing in manufacturing, and online higher education. There are already millions of “prosumers” — consumers who have become their own producers — generating their own green electricity at near zero marginal cost around the world. It’s estimated that around 100,000 hobbyists are using open source software and recycled plastic feedstock to manufacture their own 3D printed goods at nearly zero marginal cost. Meanwhile, six million students are currently enrolled in free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that operate at near zero marginal cost and are taught by some of the most distinguished professors in the world, and receiving college credits.

The reluctance to come to grips with near zero marginal cost is understandable.

Many, though not all, of the old guard in the commercial arena can’t imagine how economic life would proceed in a world where most goods and services are nearly free, profit is defunct, property is meaningless, and the market is superfluous. What then?

A powerful new technology platform is emerging with the potential of reducing marginal costs across large sectors of the capitalist economy, with far reaching implications for society in the first half of the 21st Century. The Communications Internet is converging with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure — the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will connect every thing with everyone in an integrated global network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, the electricity grid, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be linked via sensors and software to the IoT platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node — businesses, homes, vehicles — moment to moment, in real time. Anyone will be able to access the IoT and use Big Data and analytics to develop predictive algorithms that can dramatically increase productivity and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of physical goods and services to near zero just like we now do with information goods.
Lost in all of the excitement over the prospect of the Internet of Things is that connecting everyone and everything in a global network driven by extreme productivity moves us ever faster toward an era of nearly free goods and services and, with it, the shrinking of capitalism in the next half century. The question is what kind of economic system would we need to organize economic activity that is nearly free and shareable?

We are so used to thinking of the capitalist market and government as the only two means of organizing economic life that we overlook the other organizing model in our midst that we depend on daily to deliver a range of goods and services that neither market nor government provides. The Commons predates both the capitalist market and representative government and is the oldest form of institutionalized, self-managed activity in the world.

The contemporary Commons is where billions of people engage in the deeply social aspects of life. It is made up of literally millions of self-managed, mostly democratically run organizations, including educational institutions, healthcare organizations, charities, religious bodies, arts and cultural groups, amateur sports clubs, producer and consumer cooperatives, credit unions, advocacy groups, and a near endless list of other formal and informal institutions that generate the social capital of society.

Currently, the social Commons is growing faster than the market economy in many countries around the world. Still, because what the social Commons creates is largely of social value, not pecuniary value, it is often dismissed by economists. Nonetheless, the social economy is an impressive force. According to a survey of 40 nations, the nonprofit Commons accounts for $2.2 trillion in operating expenditures. In eight countries surveyed—including the United States, Canada, Japan, and France—the nonprofit sector makes up, on average, 5 percent of the GDP. In the US, Canada, and the UK, the nonprofit sector already exceeds 10% of the workforce.
While the capitalist market is based on self-interest and driven by material gain, the social Commons is motivated by collaborative interests and driven by a deep desire to connect with others and share. If the former defends property rights, caveat emptor, and the search for autonomy, the latter promotes open-source innovation, transparency, and the search for community.

What makes the Commons more relevant today than at any other time in its long history is that we are now erecting a high-tech global technology platform whose defining characteristics potentially optimize the very values and operational principles that animate this age-old institution. The IoT is the technological “soul mate” of an emerging Collaborative Commons. The new infrastructure is configured to be distributed in nature in order to facilitate collaboration and the search for synergies, making it an ideal technological framework for advancing the social economy. The operating logic of the IoT is to optimize lateral peer production, universal access, and inclusion, the same sensibilities that are critical to the nurturing and creation of social capital in the civil society. The very purpose of the new technology platform is to encourage a sharing culture, which is what the Commons is all about. It is these design features of the IoT that bring
the social Commons out of the shadows, giving it a high-tech platform to become the dominant economic paradigm of the twenty-first century.

The Collaborative Commons is already profoundly impacting economic life. Markets are beginning to give way to networks, ownership is becoming less important than access, and the traditional dream of rags to riches is being supplanted by a new dream of a sustainable quality of life.

Hundreds of millions of people are transferring bits and pieces of their economic life from capitalist markets to the global Collaborative Commons. Prosumers are not only producing and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy and 3D-printed goods at near zero marginal cost and enrolling in massive open online college courses for nearly free, on the Collaborative Commons. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes, tools, toys, and countless other items with one another via social media sites, rentals, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives, at low or near zero marginal cost. An increasing number of people are collaborating in “patient-driven” health-care networks to improve diagnoses and find new treatments and cures for diseases, again at near zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing socially responsible businesses, crowdfunding new enterprises, and even creating alternative social currencies in the new economy. The result is that “exchange value” in the marketplace is increasingly being replaced by “shareable value” on the Collaborative Commons.

In the unfolding struggle between the exchange economy and the sharing economy, most economists argue that if everything were nearly free, there would be no incentive to innovate and bring new goods and services to the fore because inventors and entrepreneurs would have no way to recoup their up-front costs. Yet millions of prosumers are freely collaborating in social Commons, creating new IT and software, new forms of entertainment, new learning tools, new media outlets, new green energies, new 3D-printed manufactured products, new peer-to-peer health-research initiatives, and new nonprofit social entrepreneurial business ventures, using open-source legal agreements freed up from intellectual property restraints. 2014-03-31-FinalZMCSCoverArt.jpgThe upshot is a surge in creativity that is at least equal to the great innovative thrusts experienced by the capitalist market economy in the twentieth century.

While the capitalist market is not likely to disappear, it will no longer exclusively define the economic agenda for civilization. There will still be goods and services whose marginal costs are high enough to warrant their exchange in markets and sufficient profit to ensure a return on investment. But in a world in which more things are potentially nearly free and shareable, social capital is going to play a far more significant role than financial capital, and economic life is increasingly going to take place on a Collaborative Commons.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union and to heads of state around the world, and is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC. For more information, please go to www.thezeromarginalcostsociety.com.

rollership:

Ephemeralism

Urban Interventions by Fra.Biancoshock

"But a human life is not a database, nor is privacy the mere act of keeping data about ourselves hidden. In reality, privacy operates not like a door that’s kept either open or closed but like a fan dance, a seductive game of reveal and conceal. By that standard, the explosion of personal information online is giving rise to new mysteries, new unknowns. When you post a photo on Instagram, it offers up not just answers but hints at new questions: Who were you with and why? What were you feeling? What happened between the updates, and why was it left out? Secrets, creative concealments, the spaces between posts—this is where privacy flourishes today."
"A world without scarcity requires a major rethinking of economics, much as the decline of the agrarian economy did in the 19th century. How will our economy function in a world in which most of the things we produce are cheap or free? We have lived with scarcity for so long that it is hard even to begin to think about the transition to a post-scarcity economy. IP has allowed us to cling to scarcity as an organizing principle in a world that no longer demands it. But it will no more prevent the transition than agricultural price supports kept us all farmers. We need a post-scarcity economics, one that accepts rather than resists the new opportunities technology will offer us. Developing that economics is the great task of the 21st century."
"Passionate beliefs produce either progress or disaster, not stability. Science, even when it attacks traditional beliefs, has beliefs of its own, and can scarcely flourish in an atmosphere of literary skepticism. … And without science, democracy is impossible."