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Open Source Permaculture

Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
"Open Source Permaculture" has been mentioned on this forum before, and it's something we've been keen on at Appropedia for a few years now. We've been working on the platform, and there's some info there, and it's a collaborative effort... but to really take off, it needs some passionate people who know about permaculture and who want to put in the work.

I've been talking with two of the people behind this Open Source Permaculture effort, Sophie Novack and Evan Schoepke, and they seem pretty switched on. They want to work with Appropedia rather than make yet another permaculture-wiki-to-rule-the-world, and naturally I think that's a wise decision. They're raising funds to put together an ebook and a website (10 days left in the fundraiser).

What do you think?


Appropedia.org: wiki for sustainable design, permaculture, appropriate technology & all that jazz.
 Me: Wiki and open knowledge consulting.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
found the sites very interesting and bookmarked them to be able to keep watch on what is happening


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Jonathan Hontz


Joined: Feb 12, 2012
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
I am puzzled. Is permaculture currently proprietary? It seems like they're basically just attempting to pay for a website and book about permaculture, which is fine, but then there's this from their website:

We believe that sustainability is for everyone. That's why we're creating Open Source Permaculture, a free online resource for anyone who wants to create a more sustainable world. Imagine having all the resources you need at your fingertips to enhance the sustainability of your home or land.


Free for anyone who has a computer, that is. And all of these resources they discuss are already online. I'm just not totally clear on what it is they're trying to accomplish. I'm a big fan of Ms. Novack's Permaculture Media Blog, which seems to already do the work that this Open Source Permaculture site is destined to do.


http://falsedivision.wordpress.com/
Come. Read awhile.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Permaculture is already Open Source. See this messageboard, other messageboards, a gazillion websites and videos. All free. It would be great if there were a clearing house for all that's already out there but maybe hard to track down.


Idle dreamer

Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Jonathan Hontz wrote:I am puzzled. Is permaculture currently proprietary?


"Open source" does not mean "not proprietary". In software terms it is about having freedom. One of the central tenets of open source is avoiding the restrictions of "copyright" through the concept of "copyleft" - explicitly encouraging the sharing and adaptation of a work. This is given legal status (insofar as the courts have kept up with such things) through open licenses - in this case, the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, the same license as used by Wikipedia and Appropedia.

Open source also suggests a framework for collaboration - hence a wiki. If an ebook is published under an open license and it's never taken and remixed or updated by someone else, it's not really living up to its open source potential. That might give a glimpse of why open source matters.

Access to permaculture knowledge is often perceived to be "guarded" though - where you are expected to pay thousands of dollars to do a PDC, for example.

Jonathan Hontz wrote:Free for anyone who has a computer, that is.


This is an issue, but not as big an issues as many people think. If you're worried about people not having computer access, wait another year or two and see the difference. I started the wiki page Can the poor access Appropedia? two year ago in response to this question from several people, but in that time I've heard the question less, as we're hearing about internet access penetrating into African villages and Indian slums.


Tyler Ludens wrote:...It would be great if there were a clearing house for all that's already out there but maybe hard to track down.


Indeed - that's a big part of it - and the ability to remix that info and turn it into something useful is why open source and open licenses matter.

That's why I'm an open source permaculture enthusiast.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Chris Watkins wrote:
Access to permaculture knowledge is often perceived to be "guarded" though - where you are expected to pay thousands of dollars to do a PDC, for example.


Yes, it would be great if people did not perpetuate that misconception. The knowledge is not guarded. The teaching certificate is guarded, but not the knowledge. A PDC is necessary to get a teaching certificate. It is not necessary to get a PDC in order to learn about permaculture or to practice it.
Jonathan Hontz


Joined: Feb 12, 2012
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
Well, as far as a permaculture project goes, knock yourselves out. We need every bit of help we can get.

However, I disagree with the necessity of such a project and genuinely feel that the effort and finances would be better spent doing something else, since all of the permaculture information is already widely distributed, all of it is completely free for the reading, and the only restrictions placed on the word "permaculture" are that it can't be used in academic or other research work without attending a PDC and you must be certified in order to teach it. I agree whole-heartedly with both of those restrictions. Mollison and Holmgren invented the discipline and should be able to do whatever they want to ensure that people aren't misrepresenting it. If I don't like that, I can just turn the other cheek. The Australians seem to be doing just that with regard to many uses of their word in describing things that they had never intended. Formally, permaculture is closed-source, but in practice it's "free as in freedom".

If people think the information is "guarded", they are just mistaken, as Tyler points out. I'm not sure where that belief originated or if it persists, but it's flat wrong. If people desperately want to use the word permaculture to ride its coat tails toward recognition for whatever project they're working on, then let them be certified. If they can't afford to be certified, then they can just do their own thing and call it permaculture. In the unlikely event that the project gets tagged by the permaculture police for misuse of the term, then just come up with another term.

I'm still foggy on the purpose of this Open Source Permaculture project. Chris, you said that they want to work with Appropedia rather than create a new wiki, but they're creating a new site anyway. I'll re-iterate that Permaculture Media Blog is already fantastic as a permaculture resource. I stand by my statement that we need all the help we can get, but it's confusing when people already have two great resources up and running, and then they choose to delve into a third for no other apparent reason than a fundraiser and a book launch. If poor people already know about Appropedia, then just flesh that out. Splintering resources into all these different areas in the name of an ideal that's best applied to software and other intellectual property isn't really helping the cause, but if the spirit moves someone, then I guess they need to move.

I apologize if that comes across as overly cynical, but it's what I think.
Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Jonathan and Tyler,

Jonathan Hontz wrote:...If people think the information is "guarded", they are just mistaken, as Tyler points out. I'm not sure where that belief originated or if it persists, but it's flat wrong. If people desperately want to use the word permaculture to ride its coat tails toward recognition for whatever project they're working on, then let them be certified. If they can't afford to be certified, then they can just do their own thing and call it permaculture. In the unlikely event that the project gets tagged by the permaculture police for misuse of the term, then just come up with another term.


I've picked that up from conversations with a friend who's very well connected in the permaculture world, and I believe I've picked it up here as well when there was some enthusiasm for creating a wiki project. But I'll rethink this. Incidentally, my friend's comments weren't aimed at Bill Mollison or David Holmgren, but there was a perception that others were putting themselves forward and acting as gatekeepers... perhaps I chanced on a turf war that I don't understand .

Jonathan Hontz wrote:I'm still foggy on the purpose of this Open Source Permaculture project. Chris, you said that they want to work with Appropedia rather than create a new wiki, but they're creating a new site anyway. I'll re-iterate that Permaculture Media Blog is already fantastic as a permaculture resource. I stand by my statement that we need all the help we can get, but it's confusing when people already have two great resources up and running, and then they choose to delve into a third for no other apparent reason than a fundraiser and a book launch. If poor people already know about Appropedia, then just flesh that out. Splintering resources into all these different areas in the name of an ideal that's best applied to software and other intellectual property isn't really helping the cause, but if the spirit moves someone, then I guess they need to move.


I partly agree - ultimately I'm most interested in developing a central resource, which can be used to create ebooks or whatever. But I do see value in a separate, more focused site and a "brand," so to speak, for communicating and raising support (rather than duplicating or splintering what we're doing at Appropedia).

The project adds to what we're doing now at Appropedia - while anyone can contribute to Appropedia pages, this is happening slowly. So this project is saying that we want to fund people to work on bringing this knowledge together, and do it as "open content" allowing it to be reused, remixed and shared freely.

(Btw "open content" is a more precise term for written content and media, rather than "open source," which is usually associated with software - but open source is more widely known and understood, and it's the same essential idea.)

Another factor is that when they started the fundraiser, Sophie Novack wasn't aware of Appropedia. If she had been, a few things might have been done differently, but the fundraiser is about sharing a vision and getting support for a specific project. It's not my thing, exactly - I'm an engineer, and I'm interested in getting stuff done but not in fundraising... but that's my weakness, as it's very hard to keep going sustainably without funding.

Jonathan Hontz wrote:I apologize if that comes across as overly cynical, but it's what I think.


No problem - ideas should be critiqued. If we still see things differently, at least we have a better understanding of each others' perspectives.
Charles Kelm


Joined: Apr 30, 2010
Posts: 150
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
As someone who still has so much to learn, I am hopeful about the project. I'll bet almost everything there is to know about permaculture is out on the net somewhere, for free, but I welcome the idea of having an open wiki which puts it all together, hopefully with some guidance ("start here, now here, if you are in a warm climate, read this section, etc"). I would hope it would be in layers, with brief overviews to very in depth discourses. For example, some visitors may only need to know that it is a good idea to get their soil tested, whereas others want to have an encyclopedic knowledge of nearly every aspect of healthy soil, and what to do to correct deficiencies as well as remedy tainted soil.


Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
Rob Meyer


Joined: Nov 14, 2011
Posts: 103
This is a great idea, and I am in full support of it. I will be sure to show my monetary support in the near future.

That said, some things to consider working on with the money:

- Open source permaculture design software containing:
--exhaustive plant lists similar to the ones in volume 2 of edible forest gardens, including plant growth and rooting habit, habitat requirements, and functions
--a guild build platform showing the interactions of the plants involved based on these plants lists, as well as the wildlife/livestock that would benefit from these plant arrangements and problems that may arise
--site mapping/3d rendering similar to google sketchup, with GIS/map overlay to make life easier, calculate sun/shade, water table, soil type, etc
--plant placement recommendation/randomization based on site conditions input above
- A permaculture social media site, similar to the Global Permaculture Network, but allowing for more detailed coverage of specific projects, and more online collaboration/coordination to make projects happen. This can include:
-- Project progress tracking, allowing for the setting of goals, and progress meters that move up once a goal has been completed.
-- Project coordination/management refined for permaculture projects, ala github

I'm sure there's other similar ideas that can be made, but I'd like to see things like that worked on personally.
Jonathan Hontz


Joined: Feb 12, 2012
Posts: 36
Location: Denver, CO
It's all making a bit more sense to me now.

But what we've been talking about with all this "guarded" knowledge...it's probably the most potent enemy faced by permaculture. People need to feel empowered to take the knowledge and play with it, rather than worry about what the founding fathers would say if they were to walk through the playground. If Open Content (I like that better.) is one way to do that, then we need it.

About the "turf war": I think Mr. Wheaton experiences that with his evil empire here. There are those who feel that what he is doing isn't permaculture, that he shouldn't call it by that name, and that he should pick up his toys and go home. Let's call their brand of the discipline "Fundamentalist Permaculture." The Fundamentalists have copies of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual on their nightstands and refuse to view deviation from its principles as anything other than treasonous and damaging. These folks are just as loony as any other intolerant wanks, but the fact remains that sometimes they are the first people to come in contact with others who are curious about permaculture.

Getting people past that initial barrier and letting them feel free to experiment is cruicial. Making sure they aren't turned away by intolerance and false apprenticeship is too. Paul just raises his middle finger.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Observe that Mr Wheaton has not been prevented from having his evil empire. Here it is, in all its glory. He seems like about the least inhibited guy around when it comes to permaculture. He even has pleasant conversations with the likes of Geoff Lawton (permaculture God). Inhibition about permaculture is not coming from the Gods of Permaculture. It's a perception of restraint which is perpetuated by people who, for instance, claim the word "permaculture" is copyrighted or trademarked (it isn't). If Open Source Permaculture helps get rid of these false perceptions, I'm all for it! If it's redundant because there's already tons of free information out there, that's ok because there can't be too much free information!
Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Really glad we managed to see eye-to-eye!

The Open Source Permaculture fundraiser has 24 hours left, and it's raised $12,769 of the $15,000 goal. It would be fantastic to reach the full target - that would be a real vote of confidence.

If you can donate $1, or $10, or more, please do. If you're not able to, or if you're still deciding what to think, then stay tuned - there will be other ways to participate!

Thank you!
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2980
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  51
Rob Meyer wrote:
--exhaustive plant lists similar to the ones in volume 2 of edible forest gardens, including plant growth and rooting habit, habitat requirements, and functions


See here for a great plant database.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Matthew Fallon


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 307
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
    
    1
i'd posted this question the other day to 'websites' but dont think many folks frequent there or have read it.hard to tell now that thread views are hidden


permaculture media blog seems to be gone ?

the url says the blog has been removed (still cached as of Feb 18)
website is dead, facebook page is removed (cached as of Feb 10) actually now its been auctioned.
and sophia novack's facebook account has been deactivated (as of ?)
twitter page and most other social media sites were also scrubbed
obviously something has happened.
http://permaculture-media-download.blogspot.com/

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Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Matthew Fallon wrote:i'd posted this question the other day to 'websites' but dont think many folks frequent there or have read it.hard to tell now that thread views are hidden


permaculture media blog seems to be gone ?

the url says the blog has been removed (still cached as of Feb 18)
website is dead, facebook page is removed (cached as of Feb 10) actually now its been auctioned.
and sophia novack's facebook account has been deactivated (as of ?)
twitter page and most other social media sites were also scrubbed
obviously something has happened.
http://permaculture-media-download.blogspot.com/


Yeah, I've been trying to figure this out - I'm not happy about this, as it's something that I helped promote, so I apologize to anyone who donated :-(. Has anyone who donated received their "perk"?

I haven't had any replies to emails I sent to Sophia, since a week after the fundraiser. At that time she outlined her plans said she was taking a few week's break (which I thought was fair) before doing the reward for the Indiegogo campaign. I was already acquainted (via social media) with one of the people apparently working with Sophia Novack, and was sure that person was legit - but he hasn't heard from her either. I'll try emailing again now, and I'm trying another contact.

Appropedia was promised a (smallish) part of the funds raised, which we could really use. I don't know what's happened - maybe Sophia has had a personal crisis (health, family, other...) and maybe she still intends to do this.

The fundraiser seemed as legit as the majority of fundraisers I've seen on crowdfunding sites - but then, most of them show more enthusiasm than evidence of experience. Seems to me that Paul's Wood Burning Stove DVD Set Kickstarter is part of a minority that points to a track record and results on the ground.

The email communication I had with Sophia seemed genuine. I did think she'd made big commitments in terms of rewards as well as the project itself, but nowhere were there the kind of promises that would make me think "scammer". My best guess is that she's just had trouble following through.

At the time I thought: if we're ever going to support a crowdfunding campaign, this seems like a good thing to support, as it's so aligned with our mission. In future I'll be much more careful about lending my support, and especially Appropedia's support, to any kind of fundraiser, without a very clear track record.

Hopefully we'll hear something soon - but the missing social media accounts (which seems to have happened very recently) isn't a good sign.
Sue Rine


Joined: Mar 28, 2013
Posts: 108
Location: New Zealand
    
    3
Any more on this? I went looking for the blog as I've used it and recommended it often. She seeed genuineand the info she compiled was very useful. Maybe she saw the fundraiser as 'backpay' for what she had already done!
Simon Bresh


Joined: Apr 10, 2013
Posts: 3
Hi,

I purchased permaculture-media-download.com ....... I am aware that this was at one point an extremely active website..... It is still receiving many thousands of visitors per week. Currently it is parked. Is there anyone here that has the data or cache that was on the site, or any other info?

Please contact me at 917-690-7703 or sbresh@gmail.com

Thanks,

Simon Brecher
Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Simon Bresh wrote:Hi,

I purchased permaculture-media-download.com .......


Well caught!

I am aware that this was at one point an extremely active website..... It is still receiving many thousands of visitors per week. Currently it is parked. Is there anyone here that has the data or cache that was on the site, or any other info?

Please contact me at 917-690-7703 or sbresh@gmail.com

Thanks,

Simon Brecher


There's the archive.org copy - which seems to have a reasonable amount of the content:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130127085230/http://www.permaculture-media-download.com/
Simon Bresh


Joined: Apr 10, 2013
Posts: 3
Is any familiar in importing the content or does anyone here have the sites Content Cache?
Chris Watkins


Joined: Nov 20, 2009
Posts: 74
Location: SE Asia.
    
    1
Simon Bresh wrote:Is any familiar in importing the content or does anyone here have the sites Content Cache?


Maybe someone else saved a bunch of the content... but as for archive.org, what you see is all they have. That's why backups need to be done *before* a site goes down. (And none of thought of it in this case.)

I'd suggest salvaging all we can, then reimagine the site. How about adding whatever we can find that's useful, and link off to relevant sites for more info?
Simon Bresh


Joined: Apr 10, 2013
Posts: 3
I posted the job of importing the old cache on freelance.com..... so far I have bids for the project ranging from $300 (use) and up...... Is anyone here familiar with importing the old pages from Archive.org? I probably will not be able to afford hiring a freelancer.
Sue Rine


Joined: Mar 28, 2013
Posts: 108
Location: New Zealand
    
    3
It seems as though there's a jolly good collection of resources here so maybe it's not so necessary to recreate the other...just keep adding here?
 
 
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