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View Diary: Live in the Margins (57 comments)

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  •  Preserving Knowledge (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the kind words, and it sounds like you're engaging in the sort of systems thinking I'm advocating for--which is great to hear.

    As to your questions about preserving knowledge, that's a great question, and it's a critical one for the future. I think our access to information and resources will be curtailed as we go through contraction and decline, and our current reserves of knowledge are, unfortunately, largely catalogued in formats with strict expiration dates. I suspect most digitized information will be lost as high technology declines in accordance with the complexity of our society and as the equipment used to read digitized information reaches its expiration date without being replaced with new equipment and updated file formats. Unfortunately, our physical media isn't much better--CDs and DVDs degrade and become unreadable quickly, even if you have equipment to read them, and even our books are mostly printed on high-acid paper that will fall apart in a century or so.

    What would be good to preserve? Organic gardening and the scientific process spring to mind. I think science is overly fetishized in our society and religion overly dismissed--and science commonly treated as a religion--but the basic scientific process is an extremely useful tool, and I think we should preserve it. John Michael Greer actually talks a lot about this over at his blog, The Archdruid Report. (See here for a good summary of the issue.)

    To be honest, I suspect the best bet for preserving knowledge going forward is in the form of living traditions. Organic gardening will survive this way--people will be practicing it literally to stay alive, to provide a portion or most of their own food. As industrial agriculture falls apart, the organic gardening methods that have been so refined in the last few decades will help to pick up the slack and, via necessity, those skills will continue into the future.

    Any other form of knowledge probably needs to be passed down in the same way to have the best chance of survival. Science arose out of amateurs using the scientific process to chase theories--not for money or professional accolades, but out of love and curiosity. Science has since been professionalized to a large degree, but as the grant, corporate and governmental funding for that goes away, it will once again be maintained by amateurs and hobbyists, assuming its maintained at all.

    My best advice, then, is to decide what you think is worth preserving, learn it as well as you can (if you haven't already), practice the skills, advocate for them, and most important of all, pass that knowledge on to other people who are interested. This is how education has happened throughout most of human history--via practice. You're only going to be able to play a small part as one person, but that's the only way any of this will happen, by many, many people playing their own small parts. Figure out what you love, what you think is important, what you believe the future needs to not lose, learn it, and find people who will love it, too, to pass your knowledge and skills on to.

    Of The Hands - Thoughts on voluntary poverty, homesteading, farming, reconnecting to the land, doing good work, and muddling through the new no-growth economy.

    by aimlessmind on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 05:05:29 PM PST

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