Knowledge fortresses

Our free will to know, understand and express our own learning seems to be increasingly threatened by surveillance, book banning, book burning, censorship, restricting freedom of speech and assembly and in general, all activities that limit our access to knowledge. Add to that the ongoing commodification (and alteration) of parts of our respective cultural heritages.

We can best protect ourselves from such breaches of our (respective) autonomies by building and maintaining our own autonomous infrastructures for securing our access to knowledge.


Stories of censorship and commodification

The past itself can not be (easily) commodified, but representations and fragments of it are made or manufactured into commodities, consumed by some audiences, and denied to others. Nations, organisations and corporations seek to legislate such commodification, usually without considering effects on peoples and whether it is desirable in the long run.

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Choosing a license

Recall the game of tick-tack-toe. Consider the problem, “How can I win the game of tick-tack-toe?” It is well known that I cannot, if I assume (in keeping with the conventions of game theory) that my opponent understands the game perfectly. Put another way, there is no “technical solution” to the problem. I can win only by giving a radical meaning to the word “win.” I can hit my opponent over the head; or I can drug him; or I can falsify the records. Every way in which I “win” involves, in some sense, an abandonment of the game, as we intuitively understand it. (I can also, of course, openly abandon the game–refuse to play it. This is what most adults do.) ~ The Tragedy of the Commons

When re-appropriating knowledge bases, such bases need to be guarded to prevent a tug-of-war. A commons fractured by legal incompatibilities is a weak commons, and it would be deeply contrary to fracture the commons. For more on the history of licensing and main licenses in use, see captivating capital and copyfighting.

When contributing to an existing project, release your modified versions under the same license as the original work or use a fair use notice and give attribution. If that work is dedicated to the public domain (comparable to a share-alike without credit requirement) and combines other work released under a variety of licenses (including relying on fair use notice), include that too. Releasing information with a share-alike while not sharing-alike can be a problem. Especially without fair use notices and wanting credit for it. Only do that when there is a strong reason to justify it.

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Or, if you refuse to play the game, use some crazy ass license like “Copycenter ? 2015 Anonymous”.

Earmarking knowledge bases

Interesting read: A little self-published pamphlet, born out of two years of conversations, crowdfunded over the internet, launched at a small riverside gathering outside Oxford in summer 2009: The Dark Mountain Manifesto

And a reply: Re-civ not un-civ

We’re using so much of the Earth’s resources that we’re endangering the very life-support systems upon which we all depend. At the same time, too many people in our communities are going without the basics to lead healthy lives. The task of our generation is to learn to live happily on fewer resources, to distribute these resources equitably, and to make our communities resilient enough to withstand the bumps in the road along the way.


A resilient community is one whose people collectively possess the requisite knowledge and skills to meet their basic needs and are healthy enough in body and spirit to meet challenges and take care of less able members of the community (children, seniors and disabled people). What do we really need? Already an amazing array of resources has been assembled to support people working in these domains. Much of what each movement has done is still relatively invisible. What would happen if their knowledge became a common resource?

[linkview show_cat_name=”0″ cat_name=”Take Back The Tech”] Appropriate technology (AT) is technology that is designed with special consideration to the context of its use – including environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for. With these goals in mind, AT proponents claim their methods require fewer resources, are easier to maintain, and have less of an impact on the environment compared to techniques from mainstream technology, which they contend is wasteful and environmentally polluting.

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Decentralised, community run alternatives to commercially ‘provided’ communications and energy. Linking existing projects, trying out new ideas, and questioning what we really need.

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Genteel black holes

There are tons of online libraries that provide fiction, nonfiction and reference books at no charge.

“A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.” ― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
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Cultivating community and livelihood together on the common land of the earth, was a way of life for centuries. It was a way of understanding and pursuing economics embedded in life and labor, human and non-human, necessary to sustain it. It was a way of ordering this life through local self-governance and direct, participatory democracy. And it was a way of knowing, through doing and the sharing of experience through common knowledge and common sense.

Economy & Health

Natural resource based commons are not limitless. They are rivalrous and can be depleted. The physical form of natural resources mean that if I have a fish and give it to you I no longer have the fish. Natural resources exist in limited supply with removal and use depleting that supply. This results in competing rivalrous use interests, and commodification …

Natural resource commons require community management to ensure sustainability and equity of use. Water may be a natural resource based commons but many regions live in drought conditions making water for things like irrigation a commons based resource that requires local community management, only by those directly affected.


One of the biggest limitations in current community movements seem to be not technical but more relational. Egos get in the way. They find it impossible to hold cognitive dissonances (tension between differences) and seem unable to listen deeply for understanding rather than rushing to judgments and dropping back to (late) status quo defensive and offensive tactics. In the face of a clear threat we can work together, but apparently we lost some of the relationship skills which make it possible to continue to do this in an ongoing manner for the rest of our lives.

Tools for gaining and sharing knowledge

Most people are exhausted by transactional platforms, where knowledge sharing and self-expression is reduced to a tweet, a “like” or a ‘+.’ Wisdom Hackers explore and develop new tools for wisdom acquisition and dissemination cutting across digital and analogue space.

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Document and book viewers

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Booklet printing (on linux)

Some tools for making A5 booklets:

pdf2ps                                              # convert a pdf document to ps      
psbook                                 # reorder the pages to make a book,  
psnup -s1 -2                     # shrink to 2 pages on each A4 side
ps2pdf out.pdf                                # convert it back to a pdf
If you dont have a duplex printer you print the even pages, put them in the paperfeed drawer (the right way around) then print the odd pages:
lpr -P myprinter -o page-set=even -#1 infile.pdf    # print the even pages  
lpr -P myprinter -o page-set=odd -#1 infile.pdf     # print the odd pages

Backup and archiving

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P2P file sharing

Social P2P processes are interactions with a peer-to-peer dynamic. Peers can both be a device or a human. The term comes from the P2P distributed computer application architecture which partitions tasks or workloads between peers. This application structure was popularised by file sharing systems.

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Tahoe-LAFS is a free and open cloud storage system. It distributes your data across multiple servers. Even if some of the servers fail or are taken over by an attacker, the entire file system continues to function correctly, preserving your privacy and security.

MediaGoblin is a free software media publishing platform that anyone can run. You can think of it as a decentralized alternative to Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.

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I2P cloud library

With Tahoe-Lafs for i2p (only exists for linux) we can use the “underground” cloud for example, for a library of documents, videos, images, code …

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What if …?

What if we can connect outbound routers of local communication networks to connect over tunnels (i2p, other tunnels) with (at minimum) end-to-end encryption between any two such routers? Continued learning from each other seems such a good idea …

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