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Re: Distributed Debian Distribution Development

On Friday 25 April 2008, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
> folks, hi,
> after talking some time ago to cameron dale about debtorrent, i
> finally posted this but could do with comments, feedback, ideas etc.
> major edits needed on upload / verification but i put it out there
> anyway as "good enough" and "will edit later".
> http://advogato.org/article/972.html
> p.s. also put in proposal for talk @ debconf8

You wrote:
> It's all hunky-dory, does the job, removes a headache from the 
> Mirrors, makes us independent of single-point-of-failure 
> infrastructure, and, this is the best bit: by the simple expedient of 
> providing a different dpkg.conf file and different GPG key master 
> packages, you have provided the world with a way to distribute other 
> material in an entirely distributed fashion. entirely as Free 
> Software. without requiring a web site. For example, Miro, the
> Distributed Media Player, requires that you upload your content to a 
> web site, and you subscribe to RSS feeds. They're basically recreating 
> the Debian Distribution system. Surely it would be better to merge the 
> two?     

On that note, what about other systems that are in development? Observe:

"The OSCOMAK project will foster a community in which many interested 
individuals will contribute to the creation of a distributed global 
repository of manufacturing knowledge about past, present and future 
processes, materials, and products. OSCOMAK stands for Open Source 
Community On Manufacturing Knowledge. We will develop software tools to 
enable the creation of this knowledge repository: to collect, organize, 
and present information in a way that encourages collaboration and 
provides immediate benefit. Manufacturing "recipes" will form the core 
elements of the repository. We will also seed the repository, interact 
with participants, and oversee the evolution of the repository."

"Engineering knowledge is learned information about how the world works 
and ways to make it do what you want. Social or societal knowledge is 
the set of all knowledge in a society. Therefore, societal engineering 
knowledge is a society's knowledge about how to make the world do what 
it wants. 

Specialized social networks seem to be easier to create and gain 
momentum under amplifying effect of the internet. We can aggregate the 
collective effort of hundreds of individuals to build a large knowledge 
base [for engineering/software projects], but making use of that 
knowledge is difficult because it has no structure or well-defined 
relation to other knowledge. 

The societal engineering knowledge database (skdb) is a group of 
programs designed to aggregate, store, present, and process clusters of 
engineering knowledge, described as 'packages' in analogy to linux 
software management tools like APT, yum, CPAN, rpm, etc.. These project 
packages might include simulation and visualization tools for tweaking, 
development tools to rewrite data about the package, explicit 
well-documented links to other projects, etc. The success of APT and 
friends comes not from any magical software intelligence, but rather in 
the wide-spread social diffusion and easy accessibility: the ability to 
easily get new components, and just as easily throw them away; users 
can play with them, see how the work, and implement changes on the 

Physically building projects will become much easier when we have 
fabbers like RepRap, hextatic, molecular nanotechnology etc., but in 
the mean time we have humans who can track down materials and tools (by 
following detailed instructions) to make the particular blackbox that 
they need for a project. The point to remember is that computers cannot 
pull together apparently unrelated concepts to make a new functioning 
whole, but there are many humans eager for an opportunity to contribute 
just this sort of knowledge. 

Skdb started as a method for finding a feasible self-replication 
process: the idea is to come up with as much social knowledge (facts 
that can't be derived from first principles) as possible, throw it in a 
pot, connect all of the possibilities together, and fish out the closed 
cycles. (Hamiltonian paths?)"

These two projects are essentially the same thing, and so the meta 
attribution that you mention on your document describing the debtorrent 
system, the same too there. But in the case of oscomak/skdb, there is 
*grounding* such that not only are we talking about compiling for 
specific ISAs on microprocs, but for physical configurations of 
fab-labs and other interesting environments for the completion of the 
cybernetic loop, if that makes any sense. Eric Hunting said it 

On Thursday 24 April 2008, Eric Hunting <erichunting@gmail.com> wrote:
> These are intriguing ideas. It looks like you're going one step
> beyond the concept of a Open Source Everything database as I had
> described in TMP2. I was basically concerned with the concept of
> having a formalized document structure for developing and cataloging
> 'recipes' for the independent fabrication of artifacts. But here you
> seem to be going farther by putting that kind of information into a
> very specific semantic structure that can then be reduced to machine
> control software. This parallels the vision of Jacque Fresco, which
> I've been reading about lately. Deriving from the mid-century
> expectations of Total Automation, Fresco's notion of 'cybernation'
> -the wedding of social and economic structures and global information
> gathering to Total Automation, would, of necessity, involve
> formalized semantics that can be reduce to machine code. Looks like
> all these ideas of group Open Source knowledgebases and their
> integration into specific systems may be reaching some sort of
> critical mass. Perhaps the Internet is finally coming into its own
> ultimate purpose at last.

Thoughts on collaboration? I am on freenode and other servers, other 
protocols if you want to chat more immediately, or phone me.

- Bryan

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