Geek Commune

We all know communism doesn’t work. There isn’t even a debate. Take any number of laborers. Now reward all those laborers with equivalent living conditions, luxuries, etc. regardless of difficulty of labor or effort and you will have problems. Because of the way our society is structured people do work which does not directly effect their lives in any way. For example a steel mill worker. He doesn’t live off the steel. His continued survival has very little to do with how good, bad or how much steel is produced. Therefore he must be rewarded with things like food and shelter in exchange for his steel making. That is the way things work. So unless you are a subsistence farmer or some such communism will not work. Simply because people will have no move to work if they are guaranteed to get an equal share no matter what. And the no matter what does not hurt them in the least.

However, we all know that communistic style communities do work on a small scale. Ten farmers all working together and sharing profits equally is a very communist scenario. And it works. It works as long as the sale of the crops from that farm is sold competitively in a capitalist marketplace. If the sale of those crops was always guaranteed to bring in the same amount the farmers wouldn’t mind growing crummy crops, or fewer crops. They would make one rusty ear of corn, or no corn, and that would be that. But because the better they work the more they all get, they work harder. It is a prisoners dilemma for each and every farmer. One of them can try to go the other way and leech off the others, and that will work. The problem is that the other farmers will notice and kick your ass out. Since the group of people is so small, and they all agree to help each other “escape from prison” beforehand, they all benefit double through their help of each other.

This is how the kibbutz works. In Israel there are small communities just like this. They start a business, build homes, build schools and work together to help the community become bigger and better. Slackers are noticed and weeded out. Some of them grow oranges, but others run resort hotels or manufacture shoes. Its quite a happy existence of people working together to survive in a close knit community working together for the greater good of each other. And as long as the work they cooperate on is beneficial and profitable in the outside world, everything is great.

So I thought to myself, hey. I would love to live like that. Not have to worry about the boss or deadlines or any of that type of stuff. Just every day wake up and get to work doing something I love to do that is directly related to my continued survival and happiness. And I would be with a bunch of friends all working together making life very enjoyable. If you get right down to it, the only things missing in my life are two material goods. Those are a laptop computer and a nice car. I consider the Treo 650 to already be in my possession because I have set aside money for it. Other than that, all I really want is to live near and around other intelligent and like minded people. People I can play video games, D+D and German board games with. People who I can discuss Slashdot with on a daily basis. I want to sit at the dinner table, talk about what I did during the day, and for the other people to be interested and understanding instead of just “that’s nice”. Despite all the flaws, those are the things that make college the greatest place, and I see no reason to give up those things in order to continue with life.

So obviously I propose a geek commune. Like minded geeky people like myself should pick up and move to somewhere where land is cheap. We can spend half of our time developing high quality non-free software for any customer who needs it. We can use this money to feed ourselves, purchse technology, pay the bills and acquire luxuries and other fun things. In our spare time we can all work together on free/open source software that interests us and makes the world a better place. And because we will have a geographically central location we will be much more efficient and higher quality at developing said FOSS software than those who communicate solely through the internet. We can apply techniques like extreme programming and other in order to make some really awesome stuff. Also, because the people there are indirectly “paid” for their work we can maybe get some artists and musicians into the fold to make some FOSS games. It would be geek Mecca and college graduates would embark on pilgrimages to visit and join us if they are deemed (trust)worthy and useful/valuable.

We could also do awesome stuff like lock up all the buildings and caravan to conventions like Otakon and Comic-con with wireless mesh networks between our vehicles. There would be websites documenting our activities and antics for the world to share in. It would be truly a beautiful thing. There are only two obstacles in getting this thing to work. First we need stuff to start with. Difficult to come by a large block of land, a good internet connection, living space and an officy type building without starting funds. Second we have to start a profitable software business that can at least feed all of the founding members.

Barring those two difficulties I think this is the most realistic dream come true I can hope for. Anyone interested can just drop me a line and we’ll talk about it. I especially want to hear from you if you can help out with either of the two problems. I can tell you right now that if I had enough initial investment and a customer/customer base, and my college degree was complete I would be out buying land in the desert as we speak.

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One Response to Geek Commune

  1. Lion Kimbro says:

    This is what I want as well.

    Basically.

    I mean, a big part of the reason I work on online communications software, is so that I can mold the Internet into a big college-like situation.

    But it looks like that’ll take a couple decades, so, in the meantime, I guess I should go straight geek coop.

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