Seven facts about the Global Village Construction Kit

Every now and again a project comes along that could change everything. I’ve been lucky enough this year to come across two of them.

The first I wrote about in Seven facts about Unhosted. It has the potential to decentralised the web again, while simultaneously keeping it just as easy to use and powerful.

Today I’m writing about the Global Village Construction Set. It has the potential to decentralise our industrial society.

I tweeted about it every day last week. Here are the links:

  • [ @OSEcology fact #1/7 ] finished 6 of 50 industrial machines that together bootstrap a small-scale civilization
  • [ @OSEcology fact #2/7 ] there’s a TED talk on Global Village Construction Set; “hope to transcend artificial scarcity”
  • [ @OSEcology fact #3/7 ] it’s open hardware (specs are Creative Commons / GNU FDL); anyone can make the machines (now or after apocalypse)
  • [ @OSEcology fact #4/7 ] bricks for building are made in a Compressed Earth Block press, they’re tough
  • [ @OSEcology fact #5/7 ] how to make a 2-axis CNC metal-cutting torch table; vital for build/repair of other parts
  • [ @OSEcology fact #6/7 ] GVCS is being tested at the “Factor e Farm”, a 30 acre site, 65 miles from Kansas City
  • [ @OSEcology fact #7/7 ] it’s half crowdfunded – 420 “true fans” donate at least $10/month each, big donors too

We’re very separated from the material supply chain that feeds us, keeps us warm, keeps us healthy. This is fine while it continues to work. But we know that one day – maybe not this year, maybe not next year, maybe not in a hundred years – we know that one day it will fail.

In reasoning terms, that’s a fairly simple claim (one aspect is covered in the old book the Limits of Growth, or you can just reason that everything will one day end). Reason though isn’t enough to make a mind believe. For a personal, real experience version, I think of the financial crisis or the recent riots at the end of my street.

So yes, the Global Village Construction Set, if completed, is a kind of insurance policy against the fragility of our just-in-time civilisation.

You don’t need to be so forward thinking and selfish though to find value in it. For example, it’s potentially useful now to millions of people in the world who aren’t already living in material wealth. And there’s also another good reason I’ll explain…

The Global Village Construction Set is a challenge. Can we, together, design a complete set of tools that can be used to mutually repair and rebuild each other, and self-reliantly sustain a reasonably good standard of living?

That’s a fun goal!

How can you help them? You can become a true fan by donating just $10 a month. They use it to buy the equipment and skills they need to develop the machinery, and they open source the designs they make. Or you can get involved deeper.

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