Most struggling cities are much like the Windows operating system - top-down driven, expensive, bloated and visibly inefficient constructs which lock you into its orbit - and frequently, scares the living daylights out of you with its tantrums. Well meaning attempts at finding resolutions to the many challenges that such cities pose its residents - invariably end up deploying the very same system that they are trying to improve, resulting in more circular thinking.
In order to change such recurring circular outcomes, one needs to take a closer look at other successful alternatives which are within easy reach. Alternatives like the organically structured Free and Open Source - FOSS system.
On the main page there is an interesting glimpse into how the FOSS mindset has managed to alleviate human suffering and help save lives in many disasters across the world - at low cost and in a highly efficient manner. This Open Source mindset has resulted in a highly innovative and relevant rebuild in the devastated New Orleans.
‘BookCrossing’ demonstrates the FOSS mindset very elegantly: If you love it, set it free!
The dilemma of circular thinking springs from a lack of FOSS-ness in our lives. Nowhere is it highlighted more clearly than in the unfortunate fragmentation of our collective spirit on issues debilitating our region such as: urban v/s suburban, tall v/s low; dense v/s sparse; one-way v/s two-way or even marble v/s cement and the lrt v/s buses, west harbour v/s nothing at all, and now open data v/s shut data!
Where would we all head to, if the water suddenly started to rise in our downtown? For that matter, where would we all go to from our spread in the burbs, if the oil suddenly ran out? We haven’t even a clue as to what position we are going to stake out - if oil runs out and the water rises at the same time!
Well, hopefully none of these situations arise and instead, we move beyond polarizing position debates and start investing our time more pro-actively in seeking inspiration to act - from the likes of Shai Agassi, who choose to focus on global issues and challenges with a FOSS mindset. The solutions can be quite stunning!
Short-term v/s long-term logic evaporates as transformative thinking attempts to rebuild the economy with the power of ideas and the will to act on them.
Our region is barely getting digital in thinking, when already a generation at the helm of affairs globally like John Maeda, the young President of RISD, are - "returning to the world of ideas from being - post-digital."
The global landscape is being re-defined by game-changers like Agassi, Maeda and the many more in diverse fields across the world. If we in the Hamilton metropolitan region do not keep up with the pace that the FOSS mindset has already set for the world, we will end up being mere obstacles to the natural trajectory of our oncoming generation, which for sure has little use for our echo chambers.
Recognizing emergent patterns in our region is the first step towards knowing whether our new ‘whole’ will be more than just a sum of our parts, or merely its resulting difference.
by Mahesh P.Butani
>> "Searching is an act of imagination, an approximation of expected outcomes, where findings inscribe themselves into the future."