Sustainable Technology Working Group - How can we spread sustainable technology worldwide?

Hey Sustainers,

by creating the Awesome-Sustainable-Technology list we were able to get a deep impression of the open technologies available to maintain a stable climate and vital resources.

We have been in contact with various people and organizations in our research. On this journey we came to two conclusions:

  1. Climate change is first and foremost a challenge in terms of cooperation and knowledge transfer. It is true that new innovation in this area plays a very important role, but it does not help climate change if only individual groups and nations use this technology economically, have the “intellectual property” on it or know how to maintain it. Therefore the knowledge and technology in this area must be distributed worldwide as quickly as possible.

  2. Open business models and cooperative development processes as they can be exemplified by the “free and open source” movement serve as a blueprint for a sustainable knowledge transfer and business models for sustainable technologies.

Therefore we would like to organize different workshops on the following question within the SustainOSS community:

How can we spread knowledge, accelerate innovation and increase cooperation in sustainable technologies?

I’m directing these workshops to this community, because here you will find people who know how to work cooperatively, how to transfer knowledge through open concepts and how to apply open business models. I would be happy to develop ideas with you on how to transfer sustainable development methods like “open source” to sustainable technologies and business areas.

Please write here under this topic if you are interested in such a workshop, write me a PM or contact me at tobias.augspurger{@/protontypes.eu.

You can find here my first drafts slides as entry of the workshops:

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Hi @Ly0n.

How can we spread knowledge, accelerate innovation and increase cooperation in sustainable technologies?

Start with metrics about people and budgets. I have a prejudice on EU projects that they often operate with concepts of “citizens” or “society” without actually mentioning real numbers of scale and reach. It might is quite easy to organize a workshop + series of events for 50-200 people for $10k, but is it effective to reach 200 people in 10mln country (0.002%)? Do people feel comfortable with reporting digits if the budget went to be $50k or $100k for the same event?

My assumption that low knowledge spread, low innovation speed and insufficient cooperation is a result of low involvement and participation. And scaling involvement and participation is economic sustainability problem, not really something open source can fix. Open source is an infrastructure, the basis, the necessary prerequisite for everything else, and after you reach that point, I am afraid the real problem is how to support the people behind the infrastructure, and not just a couple of them, but everybody who is supporting it.

To ground it down, I am commenting on this, because I live with my parents, and there are no children, job duties or relationships that take my time. This is the economic basis of my attention, and that resource is not renewable. I do some jobs on UpWork, I read Doughtnut Economics blog, and that’s basically the limit of that I can do. The same goes for other people, and although each situation is unique, it is not really a problem to calculate their capacity for participation. What are the real causes that prevent from from going full time on applying sustainable technologies and preserve the ecology. Sustainable economics starts like that - it can not be just paper based PDFs. It is a dynamic system with peculiarities.

We are not a European Union organization. We just use the EU domain which is standing for Europe. The workshop will not be about motivating ordinary citizens to engage in sustainable acting or similar. All the time and money for these workshops and the organization comes from my private pocket.

Open source is also no infrastructure, it is part of the free software movement. Out of this infrastructure is been created. Other domains like electronics are also heavily influenced by this movement:

The workshops offer motivated start-ups, research institutions and companies to make the technology and knowledge for sustainable business available in a cooperative way, open and free for all. This is the only way climate technology can spread worldwide and meet its ambitions.

Please read the PDF and get to know our projects and who we are before you judge us.

I can speak only about my work experience with people from EU sponsored projects, and the struggles they have to keep their initiatives open and scalable. Your particular project have got the sustainability problem right, and I just want stress that this could be the main problem with technology adoption that is not addressed.

I absolutely understand your frustration in this area. Many wealthy developers and people still believe that open source should be free like “free beer” and that it should pays for itself. The extreme cost and waste that many large bureaucratic apparatuses bring with them cannot be completely dismissed either. This is where open cooperation based on the open source approach can help. In our research we have seen multiple times that public projects do not build on each other and reinvent the wheel again and again. This is a central cost driver.

I can not say that many wealthy developers think that open source should be free. That requires research. In my country many developers just do not care, because the code doesn’t belong to them. Lawyers are those who form company policies, not bearers of the culture. They do this, because outsourcing clients can suddenly demand to place all work in open source and find violations. One time it happened with product company as well, where a customer also needed open source solution. The solution here I think is “Blender mafia model” - became best friends with them and bring a little more fun to their too serious business. )

Among developers who care, I’d say most often understand or faced the deeper issue with economic gameplay, where commercial companies are incentivized to cut costs in addition to raising profits. Here the solution is to bring convenient systems that allow people to support the projects they care. In the end people are making open source alive, not legal entities. But crowdfunding as just a system of pouring money is missing some parts as it doesn’t make technology sustainable, as we see in the graphic.

The most simple idea here is to rework the economics gameplay so that the people who support open source receive more to spend on this. The “sustainable technology” or rather “sustainability tech” in this case is data about those people contributions with proof of contribution. It is also important that a person could directly connect his/her source of income to the donation he/she is made. That could allow companies to allocate resources before taxes, preventing double taxation for the help that open source project made.

In our research we have seen multiple times that public projects do not build on each other and reinvent the wheel again and again. This is a central cost driver.

I 100% support this statement. What I repeatedly observe as each 4-5 years there is a new generation of government officials, who try to reinvent the wheel for certain problem, fail, and then bury the results just by being silent, rather than trying to write a post-mortem for the next generation. The same circle happened to startups, and the best outcomes of this culture were those post-mortems. While reinventing wheels people get a lot of own experience, which they can then compare, but not many are able to speak about failures. How to solve? Make tales out of it, and give each tale a distinct name. There are software engineering patterns and anti-patterns, which saved a lot of time on reengineering things and explaining them to others, and when there is some recurrent behavior in some other area, it should also get a name.

Post-mortem analysis of prior projects, and communication with them should be a part of research budgets, and include professional media to make public reports. This may help.