The openCoLab’s Emergent Endeavours

OpenCoLab Emergent Endeavours are activities that are publicly shared as “works in progress”. These Emergent Endeavours can be member projects in public alpha or beta.  Or they can be aspects of the inner workings of the openCoLab community and projects that are openly exposed as a form of “Working Out Loud”.

For those not familiar with Working Out Loud:

Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities.” John Stepper

Emergent Endeavours One

Social and Economic Infrastructures for the 21st Century

As strategists and planners many of us have worked in major public infrastructure projects; in the late 1990s and early 2000s many discussed the future possibility that developing and underdeveloped nations might “leapfrog” advanced western economies. This potential leapfrogging was envisaged to occur via the roll-out of lower cost infrastructures leaving advanced economies with expensive legacy infrastructures (and thinking). This “disruption” is also relevant and can be applied at an individual worker, company and regional level also. Two areas of public infrastructure that this phenomenon can be clearly seen to have played out in are energy and internet connectivity.

Both State and Federal Governments have heavily invested in “poles and wires” infrastructures for it to be increasingly displaced by lower cost / decentralised generation (roof top solar).  Furthermore, the roll-out of the high speed broadband has significantly faltered – to such an extent that when once Australia was considered an advanced early adopter and leader to now dropping significantly down international benchmarks for broadband connectivity and services. [1]

On both fronts public sector outsourcing / privatisation and poor public sector governance has left the Australians as holders of expensive legacy infrastructure.

[1]  Accessed 28/7/2016

In coming years, individuals that can will pay to move to lower cost services and infrastructures – further adding to the service cost pressure of those remaining on established services. The alternative for communities is to come together to aggregate their own needs and to in effect do what government and public sector governance has been unable to do.

Two areas of public infrastructure where there is likely to see this aggregation occur is in the migration of households “off the grid” and making “last mile” high speed broadband connectivity possible (where the NBN has yet to or is unlikely to satisfy community need).

The openCoLab has interests in and relationships with projects in these domains.

One of the openCoLab’s Founding Member’s Tom Miller, also Founder of The Transition Foundation, recently mused in a blog post how blockchain based “smart contracts” and “Distributed Autonomous Organisations” (DAO) might be used by communities to govern and co-ordinate the aggregation of their internet needs (i.e. signal demand); collect  / manage funds (e.g. conduct crowd funding campaigns – hold in trust / escrow); then secure and manage the service provision.

Tom has not only postulated that it is possible for the community to own and operate internet that is faster and cheaper than incumbents such as Telstra but is actively pursuing that possibility with a project that is soon to commence.

Many will watch with interest as early adopter communities begin to come together to shift off expensive legacy infrastructures or pool funding and resources to access services that government are unable to deliver.

The openCoLab will keep its readers informed and should you wish to participate in these projects please get in contact.

“All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise we would never have anything new.”

Charles Kettering

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