Franz Nahrada / Workspace / Manchester speech / Contributions /
Kim Veltman


Thank you for kindly sharing  your emergent speech. Your essential point that free software alone is not the key is an important one.

The example of Leonardo Pisano, better known as Fibonacci is of further interest because he learned these principles from Arabic culture, which had learned the principles from Hindu culture. If Leonardo had not travelled from Pisa to North Africa he would not have learned about another level of knowledge.

Discussions of causes often look for a single cause. The cause is of little interest in itself. To have capitalism one needs money. But then it is a question of doing things with the money and for what purpose. Remember that Aristotle has 4 causes: final, formal, efficient and material.  The ”free” rhetoric is about the efficient cause in isolation. This is equally true of the “open” rhetoric, where we see an American variant which emphasizes open, but only if one is a member of a closed club.

In the new world that is emerging we need technology that is affordable. You saw the news, I am sure, that by the end of this year 60% of the world will have a cell phone: 4.1 billion people. This is a useful ingredient.

Another very important ingredient is content. The liber de abaco was about content. But that story became interesting because it led to a notion of a scuola dell abaco, which was an elementary mediaeval equivalent of an MBA: a school for sharing business principles.

It is quite possible to be a billionaire and decide to do nothing but pass the time of day. There are cases that reflect lack of responsibility where responsibility would be highly required.

In the old Indian and Tibetan tradition, there is a claim that there are only two professions for a man: procreator or teacher. One begets children or one begets ideas. In both cases sharing is the underlying principle.  So perhaps your key message to Oekonux is that the rhetoric of a single cause needs to be complemented with four causes, where ingredients such as free, open, and content creation lead to a goal of sharing and fostering. A fundamental problem of our world is that it is filled with either with vague outcomes, tor with those in power having short term targets with no thought of long term consequences and are rewarded irregardless  of what they do.

At the time that Leonard of Pisa was bringing Hindu/Arabic mathematical knowledge to Italy, the Italians were developing the idea of a public space. The early city states all created a Palazzo Pubblico (their town hall) which had a piazza pubblico or a public square. We can still see them today in Siena, Florence, Bologna. They remain central nodes where the public can share festivals, feasts and just enjoy the company of fellow human beings. From this comes the idea of a public good. In England the equivalent became the commons, which led to each little village having their village green, their communal garden/park, known as the village commons and led also to a house of Commons.

 Not surprisingly, the Americans in the US adapted the idea of the commons from England but with a curious twist. If you go to the Library of Congress Authorities and look for Public Good you are re-directed to Common Good and then led to

Consensus (Social sciences)
Public interest

So public good leads to the idea of consensus, as if it were merely a matter of opinion or fashion . This may seem insignificant but it points to something fundamental. In Europe, the notion of public good emphasizes the public, “everyman” to use the mediaeval term. In America, the common good is a matter of negotiation and opinion. This is the same mentality that leads to Kuhn’s notions of paradigms that are all the fashion. The good of the people cannot be just rhetoric or a fashion, just as a science in the sense of Wissenschaft cannot just be a matter of opinion. It needs to be a constant goal.  

We live in a world where there is a wonderful trend towards sharing. Social networking is one the names we give this new mode. Millions of persons are busy sharing basic facts about themselves. Meanwhile a few large organizations are concerned with developing an ontology of desires, with tracking persons personal interests so that it can be used against them.

Oekonux has a profound challenge of ensuring that what they create for sharing with others does not end up being controlled by a few with much more selfish ends.

This is in danger of becoming an independent speech so I shall stop. I hope these random thoughts will help give your emerging talk a clearer focus.

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