Monday, June 21, 2010

ROO Drawing Boards, the trunk of democracy

Back to the Drawing Board
By John Taylor; 2010 June 21, Nur 16, 167 BE

ROO sub-sections have standard software interfaces, connecting the individual into larger entities such as the Consultorium and the Worker's Palace.

The Hillside Labour Market

If we could visit a hillside development we would be overwhelmed by its vibrancy, creativity and complexity. Many enterprises are set close by one another, with several levels of feedback and control operating simultaneously. If these were ecosystems, it would be like walking out of a sandy desert or the frozen wastes of the Antarctic ice shelf straight into a rainforest in Borneo or the Amazon, stepping out of an environment with no visible or audible life forms to where eye and ear are confronted by a startling profusion of life, exotic species of trees, insects and birds of all kinds all around. A few steps in such an ecosystem puts the visiter into contact with a greater diversity of species than a week's journey anywhere else.

There are several reasons that a hillside neighbourhood would support such a prolific outpouring of cultural life. As we have seen, residents live in a full-service home, with cleaning and meals served on a "just-in-time" basis. This frees up time and energy for creative pursuits, especially for mothers and homemakers. Having most food grown and prepared nearby, and most other products crafted or manufactured in the neighbourhood, there is a ready and diverse labour market close at hand. Unlike our labour market, it is not a battlefield among rival trades, although there is a moderate degree of competition among guilds, unions and professional associations -- the most active and useful earn the right to a stall or office in the local Worker's Palace.

As soon as everybody was required to learn a trade in primary school and be fully apprenticed by the age of 15, there ceased to be any distinct lines between worker and non-worker. Everybody became a skilled trades-person. Even those who chose later on to get a liberal arts education and enter one of the learned professions were still expected to maintain amateur status in a trade of some kind. Thus, trades unions compete with one another for temporary, amateur work as for full time jobs. And since ownership is shared and cooperative, that means that clients, owners, managers and workers all are local people, and can even be the same person, or members of the same household, there is no room for the distancing between management and labour that leads to acrimony.

The Drawing Board

As we have seen, the individual starts off with a great deal more autonomy than now, yet learns early to work with others for mutual benefit. Each dweller of a hillside lives, works and plays in sub-sections of a modular, mobile unit called a ROO, for Room of One's Own. The living room, reception area and bedroom sub-section of the ROO module connects physically into larger family and household compounds -- which themselves move around in the hillside complex. It is possible to put one's living room ROO into an apartment in order to live alone in a single apartment. However, but many rewards, financial and honorary, are built in for those who join forces with others in a household. So in practice, single apartments are rare.

The recreational sub-section of the ROO fits into whatever hobby or avocation an individual has chosen at the time. If the person is playing a sport like swimming, it acts as a change room at the nearest pool. If they practice a hobby like sewing or woodworking, the ROO sub-unit fits into a local garment making factory or wood shop.

The professional sub-section of the ROO fits into the workplace, which can be in the household itself, or in a local workshop or office, or at the closest appropriate Worker's Palace, or indeed it may be moved overnight among these locations as needed. The centerpiece of this work ROO sub-unit is the drawing board. This drawing board may start off as a simple whiteboard for brainstorming. But as technology advances it will become a smart board, a sophisticated computer interface that defaults as a blank slate. The drawing board would then plug into open source software tools that the worker learned and earned during his or her apprenticeship. These ROO drawing boards are only partly owned by the worker; they are also regulated and supervised by their own chosen trade or profession.

While the drawing board starts off with this professional function, it also plugs into the consultorium. Each time a worker walks into a consultorium a virtual version of their drawing board appears at a work station in the consultorium. Changes made here also modify the physical board at work -- this auto-syncing among many computers can already be done with outlining programs like Microsoft's OneNote in Office 2010. This link to the consultorium permits the drawing board to act not only as a tool for practicing one's trade or profession, it also becomes the hub for the worker's other principal roles as citizen, believer, advisor and researcher.

This further limits and dissipates the political influence not only of corporations but also of trades unions and professional associations. Only individuals vote, and only they decide where their loyalties lie, be it their employer, their trade, their household or their neighbourhood; indeed only they decide if the situation need be understood in such a way as to see any conflict among loyalties in the first place. A trade group that treats its workers well can hope that they will support their agenda, but it can never take it for granted as now, now that our education is so narrow and our world view so conflicted. The same dependence is true for households, employers and other levels of authority.


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