Technical Description of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)

We are hot on the pursuit of a powerful 2-minute Explainer Video about the GVCS, which may be used not only to clarify the concept in general, but which may also assist in: (1), our application to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge; (2), recruiting of 1000 True Fans; (3) Kickstarter, and others. We have the support of Encyclopedia Pictura in this venture.

We’ve been told that a lot of our material right now could be misunderstood as too ‘collapse-centric’ for many – so we want the video to be as open to different political stripes as it possibly can be without compromising the core concepts. When we are ready with the video, we will reach out to a number of venues with an invitation to participate in a media blitz with the goal of getting the True Fans and other campaigns moving in a big way.

The following is a technical description of the GVCS, which is intended to be a point of departure for writing a video script. This is a first cut, and we’ll follow the evolution of this statement in the responses to this post, so please comment.

GVCS Technical Description: The GVCS is an open source tool set of hardware and software sufficient for creating sustainable and adaptable (resilient), post-scarcity communities. The GVCS aims to create advanced civilization based on open source, global information flows, and localized material resources and skills (cf. material resources of the entire globe). To achieve this, we focus on unleashing key production processes (industries) to a smaller scale – by converting existing means of production to their improved, open source counterparts. The optimizations sought in the physical products and infrastructures used by society include: (1), integrated, lifetime, modular, scalable, systems design (2), simplicity and transparency; (3), 5-10-fold reduction in the cost of living; (4) 10-fold decrease in the energy used by civilization; (5) internalizatoin of responsibility for political consequences. The GVCS concept utilizes proven principles of division of labor, flexible and digital fabrication, and open business models – for distributing economically-significant means of production. By focusing on strategic use of non-strategic, local resources – enabled by modern technology – the GVCS promotes the creation of autonomous economies, decoupled from geopolitical compromise by design. The GVCS is merely a practical attempt at optimizing human organization towards an effective scale – by availing the infrastructure technologies, necessary skill sets, documentation, and training necessary for this task. The application of the GVCS is the creation of a network of globally-connected, parallel economies – such that they constitute realistic, model options for living and working for anyone interested in a more healthy, balanced, integrated, and meaningful lifestyle. Via division of labor and unleashed productivity, the GVCS is meant to enable groups of as little as 4 people (custom fabricator, architect/builder, agroecologist, and energy engineer) to guarantee their prosperity. This group may provide 100% of the food, fuel, energy, and housing needs from on-site resources in 2 hours per day of labor – as a material foundation towards an unprecedented quality of life and unleashed creativity. This prosperity package is intended to work up to the unit scale of a few hundred people per community, where multiple units of this scale constitute larger human settlements.

The GVCS is currently in a globally-collaborative development phase, with 1 full product release out of a basic package of 40. The 40-piece tool set includes an open source fab lab, RepLab, which allows new communities to build their equipment base from scratch at the cost of scrap steel and human labor – starting with an investment of approximately $20k in the RepLab tools. While the initial set of the 40 technologies is well bounded – technological recursion may be pursued by applying RepLab to produce not only the technologies themselves – but also their components, and finally, the feed-stocks for those components. The eventual goal is using on-site resources to produce high-appropriate-technology civilization, where global trade is an option, not a necessity. The recursion may extend up to processes such as smelting of aluminum from clay, or smelting of silicon from sand – for boot-strapping self-replicability of the entire package without the need for external capitalization. The main present challenge is clarifying the above possibility to gain support.

The above is made feasible by the standard 5-10-fold cost reduction of open source economic development, as well as the 10-fold energy requirement decrease inherent to lifetime/systems design of physical infrastructures. In particular, solar concentrator power energy and renewable biomass energy thus become feasible throughout most of the world as a foundation for modern civilization. With widely-available, decent(ralized) energy – the above technological capacity is made possible – literally for turning ‘dirt and sticks’ into the substance of advanced civilization.

The GVCS is designed to be applicable in any location where soil, sunshine, and water are found. The completion of the GVCS introduces the possibility of closing the industrial divide between the ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ worlds.The GVCS is a radical deperture whereby individuals are empowered to take responsibility for the world around them – as creators instead of consumers- as a prerequisite for evolving to freedom.


  1. stu

    as a former video producer I can say this is a good departure point but as a script it is far too technical. Dont fall into the trap of providing too much information when you really want to provide a carrot for folks to hit your site where the real information is. Much of the content described in technical language can be shown with the rich bank of images you have to work with, whilst the voiceover itsself should be far more warm and fuzzy, and composed of simple, everyday language. After all its a sales video at the end of the day. Powerful phrases from the above point of departure include:

    turning ‘dirt and sticks’ into advanced civilization.

    creators instead of consumers-

    evolving to freedom.

    try not to use any big words and use metaphor: your universal rotator is a great metaphor (or a subset I suppose) for the modularity of your system. As is the powercube. You can use these existant things as a jumpoff point.

    Try not to include any dead dogs.;-) That was a mistake, video is an emotive meduium and that was three seconds which will be remembered over all the important information.

    three minutes is great. Keep it real short. Stops you from getting too expansive.

    Dont yap all the way through it. You have powerful images, use them well.

    Simple, simple, simple. Less is more, don’t speak too much and when you do make it simple and powerful.

    good luck!

  2. Bleicke

    I think the description is WAY too technical for a 3-minute-intro-video. To understand it you’d have to know a lot about open source, business, process management, etc. Try to make a video your grandma would understand. Something more like:

    “Our goal is to create a village with advanced technology like houses, TV, electricity and cars from local resources. The village is growing its own food, generating its own electricity and can repair its own machines. The technology for building this village is open source, which means everybody around the world can reproduce it for free and build his own village. This not only applies to people who want to get off the grid or third world countries. It is just economically feasible, even for regular people. If you build your own house, grow your own food and generate your own electricity, you only have to spend 1/5th to 1/10th of the money to do so, even including your labour costs! This isn’t for being a loner or live alone, either. It can be done with as little as two people or as many as want to participate in the village. It could even be done by thousands and build a whole city.”

    Also consider changing the name to something easy and pronounceable. What about GECK? Garden Eden Construction Kit. Easy to say, easy to remember.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Josh Mize, Open Source Ecology. Open Source Ecology said: New Blog: Technical Description of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS): We are hot on the pursuit of a powe… […]

  4. Brandin

    The last paragraph is really good and I think highlights one of OSE’s strongest intrinsic selling points to most people, that of enabling participants to become more the creators and less only the consumers of the artifacts that they live by.

  5. Marcin

    It should be kept in mind that the Expainer Video should sound nothing like the technical description. This is merely the technical specifications for a concept. Perhaps Step 2 is translation of the technical description into a popular description ?

  6. tanium

    GECK? Yea, I’d love to live in Garden Eden 🙂 Just note, “geck” is also German for “crazy” …

    I just second all the above … . A popular description would perhaps even have to abandon the word “post-scarcity”. At least to me, the concept behind unfolded only after being some weeks “into it”.

    While I really like the post-scarcity concept: I had to learn that powerful words achieve more than powerful content alone. You have that content, so add the words!

    Eagerly looking forward to that video! I can imagine it’s a lot of work; but it’s worth it, video is a compact and “high-impact” medium.

  7. spilli

    these descriptions show that the person behind this project really knows what he is doing and that he has a clear view how to reach his goals, which i may have my problems with. so i like to look at this stuff casually, but most of it is not done yet and it is difficult to imagine the relations from the outside (and in english).

    otherwise as a stranger, i want to say this:

    i think it is always difficult to absorb those concepts. if i may say what this project is about in my own words:
    * an effort by a community of people
    * they try to build a farm and farm their own land
    * they try to (and actually, they do) build their own machinery.
    * they talk about their efforts so that others can do the same (or give their input) (this is the intention)
    * they work on site as well as design new or improved machinery for various tasks, from house-building to agriculture. (just as i suppose, and that to me is the main point because it proves it can be done)
    * essentially, it is a hippy farm doing open source. this is the ancient dream of mankind, that all people work together to create a better world by building upon each others work. (just as it is with open source software)
    * they really set out to do this. they have a finished fusion scientist. it is just like with muhammed yunus, who believed in people and invented microcredits instead of listening to the banks and accompanying culture who say it can’t possibly work. (although i think microcredits are not the ideal thing, simply because they maintain the credit system, but OTOH i see how it can effectively enable responsability and planning in difficult circumstances)

    and in other words, to make more people aware of this project, i think it is wonderful that different communities (e.g. buckmister fuller, video editors, …) are being invited. that is how this project (outside view) is working, there are experts and like-minded people who join efforts. and luckily, this model seems to be enough to propel the developements.

    but i don’t think things are like they were in the old days of the web, were like-minded people came together “automatically”. today, i think the web is not deep linked, but that it consists of many many isolated communities who don’t follow each other closely so they may miss out some “neighbouring” developements. i think many people with the same ideas are not aware of each other.

    the only way to make them aware is to tell them. i have to go out and just tell them. i think this is the best way to raise other peoples awareness: just go to their websites and tell them that this project exists, there are enough people on the web! it doesn’t even matter if the news is being presented “professionally” (whatever that means), they just have to find this site and then make up their own minds. interested people will get a picture of it on their own.

    each having their own way to look at things. for example i thought these farming games on facebook could be a match (this is a more materialistic argument, only a fraction will be interested i think).

    but especially “the greens” might be a good address because they care deeply about ecological issues and many of them have made their way so to say, so they might have the ressources to invest.

    i think this effort is a wonder.

    and if i boil it down again differently, it has two main strains of explanation:
    * philosophical: division of labour and the level of technical progress make this feasable. — it is a new way to do geopolitics and/or economics.
    * practical: it is being done by these inspiring people. they built their own tractor, power system, compressed earth block press, they can work with metal and probably have some experience with it. they have the tools and grips to do it.

    i know open source works and therefore i think this might work as well! i think this is very inspirational because it is doable today. so in a way there is a black hole in our conciousness, it is uncommon to think outside of the box of contemporary economics, but that hole can be filled. then it always boils down to the “selling point” that it is already being done and that it works.

    so call me an internet fanboy!!

  8. Adam Mitchell

    That’s exactly what needs to be done: translate the technical description into a popular (or layman’s) description.

    We should start with the key points you want to make, like these condensed from the technical description:

    **key phrases**:
    -complete open-source package
    -global knowledge, local implementation
    -local resources, resilient community
    -realistic and proven model for living and working in a more healthy, balanced, integrated, and meaningful lifestyle
    -as few as 4 people to attain prosperity
    -build from scratch
    -applicable anywhere soil, sunshine, and water are found
    -turning ‘dirt and sticks’ into advanced civilization
    -creators instead of consumers
    -evolving to freedom
    -individuals are empowered to take responsibility for the world around them
    -close the divide / connect the world

    **key words**:
    low/fractional-cost, reliable, simple, low-impact, empowering, local, resiliency, freedom, advanced technology, responsibility, connect, renewable energy

    Now let’s piece it together again =)

  9. Greg

    For the video, I think it’s a good idea to boil your goals for this entire project down to a small number of core ideas that pretty much anybody can easily understand.

    I’d avoid the use of too many technical concepts and buzzwords in your video. “Open source” is probably fine. Words and phrases like “permaculture” and “post-scarcity” do sound somewhat collapse-focused and may not be understood by a broader audience.

    Here are a few examples of other ways to phrase the message I think you guys are trying to get across:

    “We’re designing and building open-source, efficient technologies that help people bootstrap development of local agriculture and construction projects.”

    “Our goal is to design and build open-source technologies that regular people all over the world can use to efficiently complete local farming and construction projects.”

    “We want to give people anywhere in the world access to open-source tools that help them build communities and farms using local low-cost resources.”

    And even simpler…

    “We’re designing and building open-source, highly efficient technologies for construction and agriculture.”

    Anyway, just some food for thought for your video and overall message.

    1. Marcin

      Yes. Construction and agriculture are two aspects, but what about other sectors that we are trying to address – such as energy, transportation, flexible fabrication, etc?

  10. Adam Mitchell

    Could we create a wiki page to start a draft?

  11. Marcin
  12. Greg

    Well, the message you guys want to get out in the near future should depend on your initial goal for the video. Are you primarily trying to get support for your current projects or for the overall concept?

    I see what you’re saying about focusing on a broader message for the project as a whole, though.

    You could use a variation on something I wrote above to summarize what you guys are going for:

    ““We want to give people anywhere in the world access to open-source tools and technologies that can help them build sustainable communities using local, low-cost resources.”

    From there, you could highlight some key points that give a bit more detail about specific goals, maybe using a sentence or two to concisely summarize each major area you’re focusing the project on.

    Also, a wiki page with a draft is a good idea, too.

  13. neodynos

    Some experiences: I have tried various ways to explain what OSE does to people I know, highlighting different aspects of the work, and so far I’ve not really found a way that gets the message over.

    What I’ve tried so far:

    — highlighting the technological empowerment for high-tech homesteading and other forms of self-determined living (until people asked “why don’t they simply buy their tractor?”)
    — highlighting that a decentralized society is way more stable (until people started comparing it with gated communities …)
    — highlighting resilience (until people asked “resilient against what? aliens?”, even though being well aware of e.g. the crisis potential of the global finance system)
    — highlighting the aspects related to development assistance in the “third world” … from what I remember, this worked best, but it’s of course not the whole idea

    Perhaps it’s just really difficult to explain all this to people who are not used to think on a system level?

    Another note. Personally, I like to use the key term “autarkic community” in many places where OSE uses “resilient community”. Which should denote the small-scale self-sufficient economy found in an intentional community.

    The advantage is that it implies the means of resilience, and still carries the notion of resilience in its connotation.

    However, I understand that the term “autarky” has suffered severe damage in the English language, and can be confused with “autarchy” (there’s no such problem in German with “Autarkie”).

    So unfortunately, because of its negative connotations, the term probably cannot serve OSE to get their message over …

  14. […] well-spoken discussion on technology for meeting true human needs. Its clarity blew me away. In our Explainer Video, we should strive for a similar level of impact, in an even shorter presentation. GD Star […]

  15. […] enough feasibility study work to understand what works and what doesn’t. The next steps are explaining our work, gathering a team, funding the work, and doing rapid, parallel developmetn. GD Star […]

  16. […] to handle widespread global collaboration – by the first half of 2011. Key tasks in this involve explaining our work to a broad audience, recruiting a wider development team, building an internet platform, building […]

  17. […] will climax Proposal 2011 with lucid explanation of our work via Explainer Videos, followed by a clear definition of tasks to be done for each project (as begun in the template […]

  18. GVCS Technical Development Process |

    […] Technical Description of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) […]

  19. […] "Via division of labor and unleashed productivity, the GVCS is meant to enable groups of as little as 4 people (custom fabricator, architect/builder, agroecologist, and energy engineer) to guarantee their prosperity. This group may provide 100% of the food, fuel, energy, and housing needs from on-site resources in 2 hours per day of labor" 2 hours/day!! Now yer talking! (but do the girls put out?) from the 'explanation' site: Technical Description of the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) | Open Source Ecology […]

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