The Foundation Community Network (FCN) is the social networking arm of the Foundation phase of TMP, though many of its activities may not seem strictly social in nature. The FCN is the medium through which the vision of TMP is initially cultivated and disseminated, relying largely on volunteer effort, and will later serve to support the socio-cultural glue which bonds together the communities and business ventures which will eventually emerge as TMP progresses. It is currently embodied chiefly by the Living Universe Foundation and its Internet based forums and will expand into a variety of programs which establish open public communications mediums and cultivate the elements of the emerging Post-Industrial culture needed for establishing a cultural imperative for space development.
There are two sides to space development; advocacy and development. For all its self-importance and the seriousness of those involved in it, space advocacy is ultimately a form of show-biz. The potential for a vision of the future to compel attention and action is contingent on its potential entertainment value -especially early on when its supporters lack any means to actually employ people and pay them for their work. (whereupon its potential would be expanded by its potential to produce profit and support a given standard of living) Once one realizes this simple fact, the challenge of space advocacy comes into clear focus and the historic and seemingly unlikely team-up between Werner Von Braun and Walt Disney in the 1950s makes absolutely perfect sense. This collaboration is what actually created NASA. The notion of an American destiny in space was sold to the American public and made self-perpetuating through the entertainment value of the personal fantasy of traveling to and living in space as portrayed in media. Similarly, the fortunes of the various space advocacy groups to date have been largely contingent upon their ability to hold the attention of an audience. Many of these groups fail to understand that it is not simply the much-touted but in practice quite weak 'power of ideas' which holds attention but the entertainment value of the media disseminating them and the social venues and activities engineered around them. Thus they tend to swing in cycles of rising and waning popularity as the initial novelty of their ideas - and the attendant entertainment value of that novelty alone - wears off and they struggle to find new means of reviving interest. The most successful space advocacy groups to date have been those which generate the most continuous flow of media and the greatest variety of social venues.
The Foundation Community Network accommodates this situation by basically serving as an elaborate social club for TMP. It's primary function is the creation of social venues and communications mediums which support interest in TMP by providing people with various venues for discussion, the sharing and critique of ideas, education, the further cultivation and refinement of the vision of TMP, and as a consequence socialization. In this is the most salient point about space advocacy one can make; it is ultimately all about socialization. This is the basis of most of its entertainment value. While on the surface it may assume the role of attempting to cultivate a space-faring civilization, ultimately the process is driven by the compulsion of people to come together in groups for the enjoyment of each-other's company. As a futurist, you ignore this simple but critical point at your own peril. Socialization is one of the primary human motivations and it will increasingly be the basis of much of the cultural and technological evolution of the future. indeed, it is the core premise of the contemporary Internet and will be the primary force driving things like the development of artificial intelligence in the future.
In support of this role the FCN will tend to be concerned with two things; communications technology and the ways it can be used for social interaction. So on its more technical side it will be engaged in such things as establishing Internet based forums, web sites, chat platforms, virtual environments, teleconferencing and collaborative computing systems, courseware systems, amateur audio/video production, community data services, and the like. In collaboration between individuals and eventually between communities, it may even engage in the development and construction of new communications systems and facilities; special server systems for its novel chat platforms and virtual environments, new networking and computing technologies, the construction of dedicated network and data centers, conference centers, museums, research labs, adult education facilities, or vacation facilities. On the other side will be the social activities hosted by those systems; discussion groups, blogs, wiki projects like this TMP 2.0 wiki, digital art galleries, open source technology archives, barter/sharing networks, energy, telecommunications, and resource co-ops, convention presentation programs, audio/video shows, outreach programs, community conventions, competitions, virtual schools and universities, research programs, so-on and so-forth. Eventually this diversity of facilities and activities may converge on specific physical locations as the Foundation CIC develops the ability to support financially self-sustaining community, business, and facility development.
Long-term, this role as the general social medium of TMP will continue and become more sophisticated in parallel to the communications technologies that ultimately evolve to link the many physical communities of TMP. It will become the virtual 'town hall' and/or 'central park' for the whole culture and society TMP cultivates across the solar system, possibly embodied in the form of a great virtual habitat. We may also see its attempts to create digital barter/sharing networks evolve into a sophisticated resource-based economic exchange network in competition with contemporary financial exchange systems. Though not of particular importance early on, eventually TMP's communities will need to establish exchange networks more appropriate to the resource-based Post-Industrial economics they may ultimately evolve, with these likely to develop bottom-up through community networking rather than top-down from some centralized authority, even though the Foundation CIC will dominate most financial aspects of TMP activities for some time.
- Foundation Promotional Effort
- On-Line Community Program
- Open Source Everything Project
- Open Courseware Network