My Holiday Gift to You

Congratulations everyone! Great job! It’s the holidays and we have a civilization to be proud of. Before I review how great things are, let me say I think we can do even better. I think so because I have a new approach to share with you, which uses what we have in different ways. It’s my holiday gift to you. But first, let’s sum up how far we’ve come.

We don’t know what to do about widespread unemployment, and the social, mental and health costs that go with it. Ditto for avoidable wars. We can’t get together on climate change. Health care is a mess. Millions die from treatable or fixable problems. Income disparities threaten the social fabric. Banks get generous, flexible bailouts and are still ungenerous and inflexible with customers. We do a poor job of finding, testing and implementing new approaches.

You get the picture. Yes there are good, even great things about life. But we know there are a lot of problems which seem more solvable than they turn out to be. And that’s a key point. I think it’s less anyone’s fault in particular. It’s more the system we live within.

During the economic meltdown last year, and the events that led up to it, we realized we were not looking at what they called “systemic risk.” We missed the big picture. In a similar way, we’re not taking a large enough view of a lot of our challenges.

Taking the big picture view, and integrating it with the practical, is sort of my specialty. For over 30 years, I’ve been preparing for, and then developing, a framework which does that. It started with a few rules of thumb about life, a focus on proximity, and the known philosophical insight that being is about relating. After that, it kind of took on a life of it’s own.

Eventually, it grew into a large framework, including a new thinking structure, creativity patterns, models and tools. I call it ProxThink, short for proximity thinking. Perhaps the crown jewel is a sustainable proximities approach. The approach integrates all the other aspects of the framework with technology, networks, and emerging social practices such as networked communication and collaboration.

I implemented the sustainable proximities approach in several other projects I’m working on, in order to work out the kinks. After this conceptual work and implementation, I recently came up with a short “how-to” guide. The guide introduces both the concepts and how to set them up for a proximity you care about.

I’m including this guide in a linked blog post. It’s called “How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.” You are free to use this approach, and I hope you will. If we create many sustainable proximities, they will start to overlap. If you find this useful or interesting, there is a link at the end for ways to get more involved. Also, please share it.

So, pick up your gift at How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

How to Create a Sustainable Proximity

January 2015 – I’ve updated and edited this post to relate to the smartphone and app world we’re living in now.

Introduction: Below is a short guide for creating a sustainable proximity. You can use it for an area, home, park, neighborhood, community, region, context, environment, organization, office, kitchen, etc. The term “proximity” has a more specific definition below, if you’re interested. If we create many sustainable proximities, they will start to overlap. You are free to use this guide. It is based on the ProxThink sustainable proximities approach. It allows people to relate to a proximity they care about in a new and more direct way. I think a lot of our tough shared problems are not so much anyone’s fault in particular, but more just how things are organized. This approach is a different way of organizing things. It leverages technology and networks in a different way by applying a new growth model. I’ve created some new terms, a framework and a growth model. However, part of what I’ve done is to recognize, name and structure things people already do. Please use the comments below to let us know what you think or how the approach is working for you. If you find this useful or interesting, at the end there are ways to get more involved. Also, please share it. Thank you. —David Loughry

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Here’s the basic idea of this guide: The approach leverages technology and networks in a different way by applying a new growth model. The result is we can relate more directly to proximities, which can often be somewhat amorphous and hard to relate to. With this approach, relating to a proximity becomes more like relating to a person. When relating to a person, you can see how they are doing, you have ways of relating to them (talking, touching, body language), you can consider options and goals for your relationship, and you can do or say things which help keep you, them and your shared context alive, interesting and growing. By making relating to a proximity more like relating to a person, this approach makes relating to a proximity easier and more likely to happen. This approach can not only increase sustainability, but also diversity and variety (for ourselves and others). Why? Because sustainability, variety and diversity mutually reinforce each other. Let’s begin.

Imagine a place you care about. An area, home, park, neighborhood, community, region, context, environment, organization, office, kitchen, etc. This place is the “proximity” for this guide. (Sometimes, the proximity might be less physical, such as a project, party or conversation. More generally, the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. To learn more about the term proximity, click here.) By the way, speaking of a place like a kitchen, see the next to the last paragraph for a link to a video with an example of using this approach for a kitchen.

Add a network, such as the Internet, to your place.

Add people who can sense, track and record things about the place. Things that would relate to what you want to maintain or sustain about the place. What people might want to sense, track and record is so varied, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

If you like, add technological sensors for the place that can record what they sense. The sensors (including cameras) might record views, heat, pollution, chemicals, moisture, sun, traffic, electricity usage, and other things. Things that relate to what you want to maintain or sustain about the place.

Allow the humans and technological sensors to record their impressions and data about the place on the network. This set of impressions and data on the network is the ProxMonitor for this place.

Allow people and technology to access the impressions and data on the network. These access points are RelatePoints. If the network is the Internet, the RelatePoints could be web pages viewed in browsers or on smartphones. Also, the RelatePoint could be an app on smartphones that most people related to the proximity each have (find more about apps near the end of this post).

So far, we’ve covered two processes of the ProxThink growth model: ProxMonitors and RelatePoints. As mentioned, this growth model allows us to leverage technology and networks in a different way. The model includes two more processes, coming up next.

Now have people, or a subgroup of people, develop a set of conditions and characteristics of the place that they want to sustain or maintain. It could also be a range of acceptable conditions and characteristics. Sustaining some conditions and characteristics does not mean the place would be static or boring. Plus, some of the conditions or characteristics might be some uncertainty or variability that people want to sustain. And, some surprises are usually unavoidable anyway. Put the conditions and characteristics people want to sustain into an agreement, which could formal or informal. Of course, the agreement could be modified over time based on new input from people, and impressions and data from the ProxMonitor. The agreement might also suggest new things to track in the ProxMonitor. This agreement is the third process of the ProxThink growth model, which is a Vadi Agreement. “Vadi” is short for valuable differences. The agreement can also be displayed, commented on, and perhaps even edited in the ProxMonitor at the RelatePoints.

Now people and technology can work (and play) together to sustain the conditions and characteristics. Both people and technological systems can access the ProxMonitor via RelatePoints, check the Vadi Agreement, and do things which help sustain the conditions and characteristics of that place they care about. What they do to maintain or sustain those conditions and characteristics are ProxRewards, or “proxri” for short. Proxri are rewards made with the proximity in mind. Proxri are the fourth and final process of the ProxThink growth model.

So there you have it. We’ve covered the four basic processes. This is a simple guide for how the ProxThink growth model can be used to create a sustainable proximity. As you can see, part of the focus shifts to the proximity that people care about. With the help of technology, networks, and the ProxThink growth model, people can relate to the place (proximity) they care about in a new and more direct way.

This approach may be most appropriate for shared challenges which people in a place or proximity face together. Given that some of our toughest problems are shared challenges, it is an approach I think we should try, see what happens, and improve as we go. In addition, it can be used for parts of a place or proximity. It’s not all or nothing. We can use it to make parts of a place more sustainable, and grow from there.

Further, I believe the sustainable proximities approach, on which this guide is based, has the potential to change how we approach a wide variety of situations, whether large, medium or small. It also has the potential to be used for some of our toughest challenges, like globalization, economic turmoil, climate change, etc.

Don’t believe this can work? Read this.

I’m looking for people who want to try this approach. There are now apps and tools for trying this on your own, which I detail in the next paragraph. I’m also looking for people who want to build custom systems for it, provide resources, fund it or several of these. If you want to get more involved in any way, please contact me.

I’m keeping a list of possible apps and tools for implementing this approach here on proxri.org. However, one called Quip seems especially capable, and I’d recommend you check it out. Quip does not automatically integrate certain kinds of network, sensing and database technologies which can be part of the sustainable proximities approach, but it seems great for proximities in which people provide ProxMonitor kinds of functions. If you know of other software or apps that can be used or adapted for this approach, please contact me.

Again, you are free to use this approach, and I hope you will. I’m interested in your comments and thoughts. Also, if you found this interesting or useful, please share it. If you have questions, contact me here. If you find it beneficial or rewarding, please proxri the proximity which produced it, via the Proxri links at ProxThink.com. Thanks!

Different Way to Organize Society

(r] proxthink.com

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but the integrated sustainable proximities approach amounts to an attempt to imagine a different way to organize society. Not only that, but it is designed to be able to exist alongside other organizational forms. And, to allow smooth transitions from other forms to it.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Proximity-Focused ProxThink Framework Offers New Ways to Think, Relate, Create, Innovate, and Sustainably Grow

Short Summary

If we want to tackle tough challenges, such as globalization, economic turmoil and climate change, we may need new ways of thinking and relating. As a bonus, other things may get a boost, such as design, culture and fun. ProxThink is a framework for the proximity of situations, offering individuals and groups new ways to think, relate, create, innovate, and sustainably grow. People can explore, learn about and use it at http://proxthink.com.

Full Announcement

If we want to tackle tough challenges, such as globalization, economic turmoil and climate change, we may need new ways of thinking and relating. Thanks to scientists and philosophers, we know that things are connected and related, and that being is about relating. However, to make the most of these insights, we could use a general, widely shared, practical framework, which might suggest different ways of seeing the world and interacting with it. “I’ve tried to develop something with that potential,” says David Loughry, creator of ProxThink. The developments include a foundation, terms, patterns, models and tools that, with a focus on the proximity of situations, form a framework. The meaning of “proximity” includes nearness in relationship, so you can think of the proximity as elements related, or potentially related, to your situation. The framework is general and simple enough for conversation, yet also presents diverse possibilities, offering individuals and groups new ways to think, relate, create, innovate, and sustainably grow. People can explore, learn about and use it at the ProxThink website.

The perhaps surprising upshot is that this framework helps us relate to and within contexts, networks and environments, which can be considered from a proximity point of view. This is timely since social and technological networks, as well as global social, political, economic and environmental challenges, shift some of the emphasis to the proximity of situations. Further, ProxThink can relate to many different proximities, and in the process boost fun, the arts and culture; support science, engineering and design; promote sustainability; acknowledge and work with complexity; as well as be useful in situations ranging from everyday life and personal relationships to business and markets. Loughry says, “I call this framework ProxThink, short for proximity thinking and the different ways of relating that can result from proximity thinking. In the process of creating it, I’ve developed a number of proposed standards I hope others will adopt and adapt. These include standards for thinking structures, creativity patterns, downloadable content, climate change efforts and a growth model for people who share a proximity. I’m also curious how people will use the patterns and tools designed for creativity and innovation. As a designer, businessperson, inventor, writer and artist myself, they have helped me. In fact, some of the patterns co-evolved with my creative activities. On a larger scale, the ProxThink sustainable proximities approach is an effort to create, for some proximities, new options more suited to our highly networked world.”

Although the full framework cannot be explained here, a brief overview follows. ProxThink, with a focus on proximities, consists of the following three elements: 1) a new structure for thinking and relating, paired with 2) a creativity and innovation system. These were then used as building blocks for 3) a new kind of growth model for people who share a proximity. The new structure for thinking and relating consists of two foundational elements, four terms and two tools. The creativity and innovation system consists of 16 related proximity patterns and tools which leverage them. The growth model consists of four related processes, was created to work with networks, and includes new kinds of rewards called “proxri.” The growth model may provide a kind of evolutionary path for business models. The growth model can be combined with some existing technologies, networks, and participatory aspects of the Internet to create a new sustainable proximities approach, which can enable proximity-focused cooperation and collaboration while fostering greater sustainability. Loughry has begun to apply the growth model and the sustainable proximities approach to several areas, including climate change, downloadable content, web business models, intellectual property, and enhancements to markets. He believes ProxThink may be especially useful for challenges in which standard approaches are not working, for things that have never been done before, and for when people are stuck. People can explore, learn about and use it at the ProxThink website, where memberships start at $4.95 per year (yes, per year) with a 30 day free trial. There are also some free ProxThink resources, including videos. In addition, Loughry is available for webcam support as well as for seminars, speaking, consulting or collaboration on a short- or long-term basis. He is based in Los Angeles. For more, visit http://proxthink.com.

In a networked and copied world, we often overlap.

(r] proxthink.com

In a networked world, we often overlap. It can be hard to tell where you begin and I end. Where one business begins and another ends. Add to that how easy it is to copy things, whether information or products and services. In this kind of world, paying attention to the proximity makes more sense.

If being is about relating, then you are your relationships in a sense. You are your network. If we are in proximity, we share parts of each other’s network. We overlap. So we should take care of our proximity, and place less emphasis on ourselves.

In a digital world, you can often not be sure where content came from, or how original it is. Yet that copy can benefit the network and the proximity where it exists at the moment. The content can also exist for everyone in the network, since it is duplicated for everyone who accesses it. The content overlaps. Focus on taking care of the proximity, and the network, and you also take care of the content creators, who are also part of that proximity and that network.

Again, in this kind of world, paying attention to the proximity makes more sense. Taking care of the proximity makes more sense. Relating to the proximity makes more sense. That’s where ProxThink comes in. That’s part of why the ProxThink growth model makes sense. And why a sustainable proximities approach based on the ProxThink growth model makes sense.

Join ProxThink here.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.