Plex: 1 February 2023

Plex Enters Year 2; Program Chair, 2024 SIGGRAPH; SenseDoing; Tools for Thought Map Project; Fungi to Be With; Health In Harmony; The Future Vision for Good Living; Small Water Cycle and Soil Water Capacity; Living Between Worlds—with Grace, Dignity, and Power; Working with Beings in Deep Time

Plex: 1 February 2023

The Biweekly Plex Dispatch is an inter-community newspaper published by Collective Sense Commons on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Price per issue: 1 USD, or your choice of amount (even zero).

In This Issue

  • Plex Enters Year 2! (Peter Kaminski)
  • Program Chair, 2024 SIGGRAPH (Julian Gómez)
  • SenseDoing: Call for Participants (SenseDoing team)
  • Tools for Thought Map Project (TFTMap team)
  • Fungi to Be With (Ken Homer)
  • Health In Harmony (Judith Benham)
  • The Future Vision for Good Living (Killu Sanborn)
  • Small Water Cycle and Soil Water Capacity (Klaus Mager)
  • Living Between Worlds—with Grace, Dignity, and Power (Gil Friend)
  • Working with Beings in Deep Time (Ken Homer)

Plex Enters Year 2!

by Peter Kaminski

Time flies, and I can't quite believe it, but this is issue #25, the first issue of the second year of Plex. 🎉

The inaugural issue was published on 2 February 2022: 2/2/22 First BPD! It's a blast to look back; much is different in the world, and much is the same.

Thank you, dear readers, for the warm reception you have give the Biweekly Plex Dispatch, and for everybody's contributions.

And special thanks to paid subscribersI greatly appreciate your vote of confidence and continued support, plunking down real money! It means a lot to me. 🙂

BPD Editor and Publisher,

charles blass

Program Chair, 2024 SIGGRAPH

Interview with Julian Gómez

Pete: Julian, I hear you’ve been appointed a program chair for the SIGGRAPH 2024 conference. Congratulations! What area will you be focusing on?

Julian: My area will be retrospective/futurespective, covering the past and future history of computer graphics. It will be based on established KM methodologies as well as state-of-the-art XR.

Pete: KM = knowledge management, and XR = Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality / Mixed Reality, right?

Julian: Yes, and also haptics and body sensors and whatever else comes along that fits into the general areas of visualization and sensing.

Pete: When/where will SIGGRAPH 2024 be?

Julian: Location hasn’t been announced yet. The site selection committee is still narrowing it down.

Pete: What impact will you being program chair have on the conference? What does the job entail?

Julian: These aren't really defined yet. My chats with the conference chair were along the lines of him giving me free reins to run rampant. One underlying factor is that I intend for it to be an interdisciplinary program, unlike the other programs which have well defined domains. I won't have any previous activity to look back to either, as this is a new position within the SIGGRAPH conference. Unlike the technical program, which is refereed, it’s a curated program like the art exhibition. But with my academic background, I’m going to insist on scholarship in the submissions. I'll be putting a lot more thought into it over the next few months as program chair vision statements are due in April.

Pete: Are there any connections between your SIGGRAPH work and FJB, OGM, other parts of the Plex?

Julian: Oh definitely. For years I’ve been pushing using graph databases to tell history, i.e. purpose directed knowledgebases. FJB and OGM I consider to be more general knowledgebases. But I also think that the only way to reasonably manage knowledgebases is XR, so whatever knowledge is developed going into to SIGGRAPH will percolate into FJB and OGM work.

Pete: What top things should we all know about the past and future history of computer graphics?

Julian: It’s pervasive in modern life. Pretty much all media uses CGI. Training and simulation have been revolutionized. It's also made its way into operations, as in factory operations and surgical operations. These happened because of the normal progression in engineering of smaller, faster, cheaper electronics. I intend to use leading edge computer graphics to tell the story of computer graphics. I'm describing the architecture as one which tells the story of the last 50 years and will tell the story of the next 50 years.

Pete: Thank you, Julian, and congratulations again!

SenseDoing: Call for Participants

by the SenseDoing team

Bentley Davis and Jerry Michalski continue to structure the SenseDoing group, with a good call earlier this week, working on how the group might organize itself and its activities.

The current proposed structure:

Regularly scheduled opportunities to come together and experiment using a wide variety of sense making practices and tools. Each experiment will probably average 4 meetings, then we will switch topics, tools and practices.

You can read more at the living SenseDoing document, and watch the recording of the call, Figuring out what we mean by "SenseDoing" 2023-01-30.

The next meeting is on Monday, 6 February 2023, at 12:30pm CT (10:30am PT, 1:30pm ET, 6:30pm UTC). Here is the Zoom link. Here is a live ical link in case you have a calendar app that can use it.

There is also a SenseDoing chat channel on CSC Mattermost you can join for more information and discussion.

Tools for Thought Map Project

by the TFTMap team

For early adopters from the Fellowship of the Link and Open Global Mind  communities, the Tools for Thought Map Project published Phase 1 of its wiki website today:

The group aims to characterize a variety of thinking tools, by having people familiar with the tools summarize their experiences with the tools, and score the tools numerically along a well-defined set of dimensions.

Phase 1 presents a demo mockup of a spidergraph visualization, and a couple of People, Tools, and Practices pages. The group will now start working towards Phase 2, with automation to collate of experiences and scores from a few additional participants.

The current project participants are Mathew Lowry, Bill Anderson, and Peter Kaminski.

Early adopters are encouraged to check out the website, and can join in by using the comment form at the bottom of each page, or by using Massive Wiki processes to contribute to the wiki website.

For more information, see Tools for Thought Map, and to get in touch, read the Contact Us page.

Fungi to Be With

by Ken Homer

Some fungi to be with 😉 – the recent rains led to a bumper crop!

Health In Harmony

by Judith Benham

I’m sharing a communication from Health in Harmony, a group I support, working on climate change and helping people, led by physicians & scientists. I wish we had more groups as wholesome & heartfelt.

Preview below. See the Health In Harmony newsletter on the web.

The Future Vision for Good Living

by Killu Sanborn

For anyone interested in connecting around ideas and next steps from the future vision for Good Living, there will be an inaugural (and international) community Zoom call on February 7 at 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm UTC. RSVP to GoodLiving@HolisticVisions.Life for Zoom link.

Also, a thought provoking article series that Plex readers may enjoy:

The Dangers of a Single Story — Part III (Medium)
Breaking free from the epistemological trap of a Eurocentric understanding of the world

Small Water Cycle and Soil Water Capacity

by Klaus Mager

[Ed. note: ChatGPT is a new large language model which is focused on writing statistically plausible, but not necessarily factual, conversational answers to questions. Here you can see Klaus doing an experiment with ChatGPT, to synthesize general explanations about a topic in which he is interested. You will also note that Klaus does separate fact-checking with references, and uses his own judgement about what ChatGPT wrote.]

I thought to test my new ChatGPT to see what comes up about water and in particular the small water cycle.

Question: What is the Small Water Cycle

ChatGPT: The small water cycle, also known as the soil water cycle or the pedological water cycle, refers to the movement of water through the soil. This cycle starts when precipitation (rain or snow) infiltrates the soil, and then a portion of this water is taken up by plant roots and transpired into the atmosphere through the process of transpiration. The remaining water continues to move through the soil, either being taken up by plant roots or percolating deeper into the soil profile, eventually reaching groundwater aquifers.

The small water cycle is a critical component of the larger water cycle, as it helps to regulate the water balance in an ecosystem and supports plant growth and survival. The organic matter content in the soil also plays an important role in the small water cycle, as it helps to retain moisture in the soil, increasing the soil's water-holding capacity. The small water cycle is also important for water quality, as it can help filter and clean water as it moves through the soil.

Question: How much organic carbon is stored in healthy soil?

ChatGPT: The amount of organic carbon stored in healthy soil can vary widely depending on factors such as climate, soil type, and land use history. On average, healthy soils can contain between 2% and 8% organic carbon, but some soil types can contain up to 10% or more. This can represent a significant pool of carbon, with some estimates suggesting that soils contain more carbon than all the vegetation and the atmosphere combined.

Question: How much water can the soil hold, and how is that linked to soil organic carbon?

ChatGPT: Soil can hold varying amounts of water depending on its texture, structure, and organic matter content. Soils with high organic matter content can hold more water compared to those with low organic matter content due to its ability to absorb and retain water. Organic matter in soil acts like a sponge, holding onto water and releasing it gradually to plants. Soil organic carbon is directly linked to the soil's water-holding capacity, as higher organic matter content usually means higher organic carbon content, and vice versa.

The exact amount of additional water that soil can hold per 1% increase in soil organic carbon content is not well established, but research has shown that increasing soil organic carbon content can significantly improve soil water-holding capacity. Soils with higher organic carbon content can hold more water, reducing the need for irrigation and increasing drought tolerance for plants. However, the amount of water held per 1% increase in organic carbon content can vary greatly depending on soil type, climate, and other factors.

[back to Klaus]

When it comes to additional water holding capacity per 1% of SOM, the numbers ChatGPT generated are all over the place. The number I got from the Soil Health Institute was between 18-24k gals / acre. Here are a couple of articles as reference:

The Connection between Soil Organic Matter and Soil Water

The Small Water Cycle & Global Warming

So there are a lot of moving parts, but what seems to be very important is a) the small water cycle, and b) the infiltration of water into aquifers and watersheds. Depleted soil cannot absorb the water, it runs off taking top soil with it.

Overall a pretty accurate feedback, writing useful first copy.

Living Between Worlds—with Grace, Dignity, and Power

by Gil Friend

I began hosting monthly Zoom calls in April 2020, in the early days of the Pandemic Era, out of an instinct that there was a resonance—both dangerous and fertile—between the COVID crisis and the climate crisis, in the challenges they posed, in the urgent and inadequacy of global response, and even in the very shape and fascination of the graphs charting their “progress.”

Why “living between worlds”? Because We live between old worlds and new—as we move from the fossil age to renewables, from linear take-make-waste economies to circular, from the post-war geo-political-economic order to a world of climate crisis and geopolitical instability—to something that we can't yet name. Between working inside the structures and norms of modern life, and challenging them from “outside;” between working to help institutions adapt, and working to re-invent or replace them. Between tinkering at the margins and committing to reinventing everything. Between fear and hope, resignation and ambition, despair and courage.

Adam Tooz dubbed it “polycrisis.” Anthonio Gramsci called it the “time of monsters.” Arundhati Roy was more hopeful: “Another world is not only possible, She is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

In these monthly calls (now co-hosted with Ken Homer) we explore the challenges of navigating the world of messes we've inherited and built—from climate and Covid to biodiversity and fascism to identity and pluralism—with grace, dignity, and power.

Because “New worlds don't just happen. We speak them into being.”

Here's the recording of our January session (without the breakouts), and the archives of our prior three years of conversations. Please consider joining us Wednesday Feb 18, from 12p-130p PST (and everything third Wednesday following), for a provocative conversation that's probably more ecological, ontological, and political (and less technological) than our OGM calls. Register for the next call, or the series, here.

Thank you for you, and for what you do!

In solidarity,

Working with Beings in Deep Time

by Ken Homer

Photo by Ken Homer • Taken at Bandelier National Monument

Although it seems like yesterday, it was 30 years ago that I met Joanna Macy at a Buddhist Peace Fellowship retreat. Over the next few years, I would attend numerous workshops and trainings that she led. Her teachings were life altering for me. One of the many powerful processes I experienced with her was working with beings in “Deep Time.” The idea behind working with beings in Deep Time is that each of us is connected in the field of human existence and experience and using our imagination can allow us to communicate and exchange information with past or future ancestors.

One of the exercises she led was held outdoors on a large field at a former Boy Scout camp in Mendocino California. About 80 of us gathered for two-weeks for something called Deep Ecology Summer School. In this particular process we made two concentric circles with the people on the inside circle looking outwards and those in the outer circle looking inward so that we each stood facing another person.

“Close your eyes,” came the instruction. “Feel your feet on the Earth… feel the warmth of Sun shining down upon you… feel the vastness of the forest surrounding this field… Connect with the breath in your body… We are going to time travel… Feel the rest of the day speeding up… the Sun moving across the sky, the onset of dusk and then night… Tomorrow dawns and the day unspools like a movie being run at super speed… Night follows even faster… Stay rooted as the days and nights swirl by… keep feeling your feet on the Earth and stay connected to your breath… Allow time to flow through you… Now the weeks are flying by turning into months that turn into years and they spin off into decades… You are surrounded by a field of stars now as time keeps accelerating and the decades are melting into centuries and the centuries are sliding into millennia…. Still, you feel your feet on the Earth and the breath in your body… Despite the rapid flow of time, you experience no vertigo… You feel connected to the Earth and all of humanity and you are watching the evolution of our home planet… But you sense that things are not going so well for the Earth… Something in your being is alarmed by the tide of the time… You sense time slowing down now… Millenia decelerate to centuries which become decades… which become years… and still you are connected to the Earth and your breath… Now the years take the form of months and the months become weeks and finally, the weeks slowly unwind into days and hours and minutes and the swirling stops, and time feels normal once more.

Now, before you open your eyes, picture the world 10,000 years from now, for that is where you are standing… Those of you in the inner circle live here now. Those in the outer circle are visitors to this realm. Life is hard. There is no modern technology to be found anywhere. Lakes and rivers are poisoned. Land that was once fertile has become desert. The world has been ravaged. There are no cities anywhere, just small bands of people, many of them frail and enfeebled, riddled with the diseases born of an environment filled with toxins and radioactivity.

In a moment you will open your eyes. Those of you in the inner circle will look at the person before you and, knowing that they were alive at a time when decisions were made that led to the world you live in now, you’ll ask them what they were doing when the world was burning up and being poisoned. Those in the outer circle will answer.”

I was in the outer circle. I felt a knot of fear forming in my stomach. What could I say? That I was powerless to affect the larger societal choices being made around me? That I was embedded in systems where I was pushed and carried along with a flow that I was powerless to resist? That I voted my conscience, but it wasn’t enough? That I tried to educate myself about the problems and speak to the people in my orbit but that far too many of them were so caught up in the pursuit of their own happiness and they did not want to consider that the choices they were making were slowly eroding the accumulated wealth of all the previous generations. That we didn’t notice until it was too late that we had ruined the planet for future generations? I felt a soul crushing weight pressing down on me. I never expected I would be called upon to answer for my actions and how they led to the suffering of people in the future. I had arrived at The Day of Judgment except I stood not before God but before a young woman with a deep sadness and a penetrating searching in her eyes.

I felt the water leaking from my eyes and I was unable to speak for several minutes. Somehow, I managed to stammer an apology and mumble some of the thoughts I wrote above. I ended with a plea for forgiveness. She stood before me openly weeping and I felt as though I truly had been transported through time to a future that was terrifying to behold.

I am not sure how long we were in that state. Finally, the instruction came to close our eyes and to breathe deeply and feel our feet on the Earth. My breath was ragged, it took great effort to fill my lungs and to come back to myself. Somehow, I managed it.

“Okay, everyone open your eyes and change position with the person you just spoke to. Now, those in the inner circle take one step to the right while everyone in the outer circle will take one step to the left and then close your eyes again.”

We did as we were told.

Feel your feet on the Earth and connect to the breath in your body. Once again, we will travel in time. Now, you are feeling time speed up…  it’s moving faster than the last round and you find yourself in a field of stars with the sensation of moving at tremendous speed while meeting no resistance… there is no effort, just a feeling of the Universe moving through you rather than you moving through it…. It is slowing now… slowing and slowing and stopping and once again you are connected to the Earth and your breath.

This is another future… A different Earth timeline… Here the Earth has healed and recovered from the damage done to it in our lifetimes. The people here are healthy, vibrant, and vital… They live lives of peace and harmony… In a moment you will open your eyes and those in the inner circle who are living in this healed world will ask those in the outer circle what they did in their lifetimes that set the world on this course of healing… Okay, open your eyes…”

Rather than relay the answers I received, I invite you dear reader to look into the eyes of your relative who will be alive 500 generations from now and explain what you did to ensure that world they live in is safe, sane, and healthy.

Thank you for reading! Next edition will be published on 15 February 2023. Email Pete with suggested submissions.

Grateful appreciation and thanks to Judith Benham, Gil Friend, Julian Gómez, Ken Homer, Klaus Mager, Killu Sanborn, the SenseDoing team, and the TFTMap team for their contributions to this issue.

Subscribe to Biweekly Plex Dispatch

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get each issue of BPD in your email inbox.