Some ProxThink History


Did it ever strike you as odd that there isn’t a conceptual framework that encompasses most of what we know and do? It did to me. At least, I hadn’t come across one yet. And I’d been through quite a bit of school at that point. And encountered quite a few different domains of life and thought.

The ProxThink set of ideas is an attempt to integrate the most disparate ideas, influences, people and experiences I’ve come across so far in life. As a conceptual framework, it perhaps contains some insights into most of what we know and do. It may also contain some clues about how we might proceed, as individuals and in groups. Here is some of how it evolved.

ProxThink grew out of adventure. Adventures in thinking that relates to getting things done, as well as enjoying life.

Adventures in widely diverse areas suggested a need for a thinking system for almost any situation, including very ordinary moments. We often get stuck. We often need clues. I began looking for patterns.

I’ve always been curious about practically everything. Yet often each group of people have their own way of talking about their special area. I wanted the biggest, most encompassing patterns possible.

Common sense works in many situations. But common sense is not a cohesive system. Something more than common sense was needed.

As I scoped further and further out, looking at things in more abstract and philosophical ways, I came across a wonderful book. That book was “Many Dimensional Man” by James Ogilvy. In it, he presented this idea from information theory. The idea was “to be is to be related.” It seemed about as general as you could get. I decided to take that idea, try to build upon it, and see where it would go.

I found I needed to add the concept of proximity. The proximity is a useful concept since the meaning of proximity includes nearness in relationship, allowing consideration of any elements related to a situation.

Through many steps, I developed a set of ideas involving some basic terms and sets of patterns.

When I found patterns, I tested them against diverse situations in thought experiments. It has been a very iterative process, and continues to evolve.

In a search for patterns, you run up against limits. So different types of limits need to be included in order to be realistic. On top of that, many things are contradictory. So contradictions must be allowed.

I also wanted the thinking system to be used by diverse people. This meant making complexity accessible. And it meant using everyday words wherever possible.

ProxThink was developed during explorations through everyday life, the hard and soft sciences, the arts, design, engineering, business, culture and a wide variety of people and groups. I’ve been preparing for and working on ProxThink, in one way or another, for over thirty years.

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

Financial Turmoil is Avoidable


NOTE TO READERS: This is another press release I’m working on.


Financial Turmoil is Avoidable:
Combining Internet with ProxThink Growth Model can Create Sustainable Proximities

Los Angeles, CA, November 24, 2008, 3:30 PM – “You know, we don’t have to live with financial turmoil and the extreme variability of markets. If we focused more on the proximity, and used the Internet in combination with a new growth model I’ve developed, we could create many sustainable proximities,” says ProxThink creator David Loughry. “It would be a shame if we knew of better ways to coordinate, manage resources and collaborate, and didn’t start trying them. We shouldn’t be so helpless in the face of all this economic mayhem. We have other options.”

Loughry thinks we’re still in the horseless carriage stage of using the Internet. Before we really learned how to design cars, they were just motorized carriages without the horses. We hadn’t yet discovered the unique properties of cars and new opportunities they presented. In a similar way, we’re not yet taking advantage of some opportunities the Internet presents. With the connections and proximity awareness the web can provide, we have the potential to relate to some proximities more fully and directly than before the web existed. Taking the proximity as a point of departure, Loughry created: 1) a new thinking structure, called the ProxThink Basics; 2) new patterns and tools for creativity and innovation that leverage the thinking structure, known as the ProxPatterns and ProxThink Hints; and 3) the sustainable new ProxThink growth model, which is built with the structure and patterns just mentioned. The combination of the Internet and related technologies with the ProxThink growth model creates: 4) a fundamentally different way for us to relate to proximities. This approach can help us more sustainably coordinate, collaborate and manage resources in a wide variety of situations ranging from the serious to the fun, and in the short and long term.

Why does this approach have potential? The ProxThink growth model shares the emergent nature, and synergistic and sustainable qualities, of the ProxPatterns upon which it is built. The growth model has a proximity focus, and includes processes for connecting with people (RelatePoints), proximity awareness (ProxMonitors), sustainable agreements (Vadi Agreements) and rewards which relate elements in the proximity (proxri). All four of these processes work well with the web, and boost coordination, resource management and collaboration. The growth model, especially when used in combination with the Internet, has the potential to be sustainable, flexible, healthy, fun and efficient. On the ProxThink website, the Sustainable Proximities page provides more details, and links to early-stage examples and implementations of the approach. One of the initiatives considers in more detail how ProxThink ideas and the growth model relate to markets and financial turmoil. The others include implementations of the growth model for websites and blogs (see Proxri Deal and Proxri-Based Membership); a proposal for downloadable digital content content such as music, movies, video, art, books and software that can solve some legal, financial and logistical problems; and a climate change project called proxEarth, which includes things you can do right now if you have a website, blog, or use social software sites. Not every proximity may be appropriate for this approach. But for those which are, it may be a win/win strategy for people involved, allowing a fuller range of voluntary engagement, while meeting needs at the same time.

With reference to markets, Loughry believes there are many opportunities to combine the ProxThink growth model and the Internet to complement and enhance markets. Further, the approach can perhaps replace markets in some proximities, as well as serve some proximities which markets can’t serve. For proximities in which it is appropriate, the growth model and web combination may be more stable over time than markets, and also more dynamic, since diversity, complexity, sustainability and liveliness are enhanced and encouraged by the ProxThink growth model. Given the way ProxThink and the growth model relate to proximities, even transitions to using the growth model with the web can be engaging and lively.

The growth model and web combination benefits from network effects, so the more people who know about it and use it, the more sustainable proximities can become. Loughry wants to start implementing the approach in proximities, and seeks users, partners, funders, contributors and collaborators. He also encourages others to adopt and adapt the growth model. For more, visit (

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

Sustainability and ProxThink


How does ProxThink support sustainability? This post is a short introduction.

I believe the meaning of sustainability supports the possibility that diversity and complexity can persist, adapt and change as needed. In this sense, you might also think of sustainable as meaning lively. ProxPatterns, and ProxThink Hints built with them, stimulate creativity, innovation and liveliness partly by how they work together and play off each other. Further, much like the way emergence works, individual ProxPatterns are patterns for relatively simple interactions, yet when combined can generate complex behavior and order from a more general viewpoint. This enhances sustainability by supporting diversity and complexity.

The four processes of the ProxThink growth model build on the sustainable qualities of the ProxPatterns, and the processes are proposed standards. The growth model has processes for connecting with people (RelatePoints), proximity awareness (ProxMonitors), sustainable agreements (Vadi Agreements) and rewards which relate elements in the proximity (proxri). By focusing on proximities, the growth model is an integrated way to more sustainably coordinate, collaborate and manage resources for proximities, and supports engaging and lively transitions to the approach.

Also, regarding a strength of proxri, as we worry about avoiding monocultures and ensuring biodiversity for greater sustainability, we should probably also encourage many kinds of rewards related to proximities, such as proxri.

For more on sustainability and ProxThink, see Sustainability and Sustainable Proximities.

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

Slowing Climate Change: Faster and Smoother Transitions to Better Situations – Part 3


Note: See also Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.


The ProxThink Growth Model may contribute in situations where governments and markets are helping with climate change, as well as situations in which governments and markets are having challenges dealing with climate change. [Reference scale argument at beginning of Part 1, and how PTGM can help at various scales (sm, med and large). Also how the PTGM can augment governments and markets when needed, replace them when needed, and work in unserved proximities as well.]

The ProxThink Growth Model offers opportunities for people and groups of varying sizes to create their own RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Difference Agreements and ProxRewards, individually and/or collaboratively. So it isn’t top down or bottom up or middle-driven, but all three.

As a suggestion, we might begin by creating ProxMonitors and RelatePoints. A variety of ProxMonitors could be created to help people monitor relevant climate change data from local, regional and global perspectives. A variety of RelatePoints could be created for people and groups to relate to each other. Via the RelatePoints and aided by data from ProxMonitors, people could create Difference Agreements relevant to various proximities. The Difference Agreements would define the valuable differences people want to preserve, and then agreements could be crafted which help those valuable differences to persist, adapt and change as needed. ProxPatterns could help people create both the Difference Agreements, as well as appropriate ProxRewards as part of the Difference Agreements. As time goes by, people can experiment with and improve the RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Difference Agreements and ProxRewards they create and use to relate to climate change.

Several further suggestions:
1) It may be very useful to view various proximities as resources. These become resources which we strive to make self-sustaining, to support us over long periods of time. [Examples.]
2) It also may prove useful to not try to keep track of every single contribution each person or group makes. Of course, keep track of some, but don’t get hung up on it. In other words, it may prove useful to a) set some directions or goals, b) provide feedback on how we are doing via ProxMonitors, and then c) encourage many people do things which can help us reach the goal or stay on course, and celebrate the efforts of these many, rather than celebrating the efforts of each. [include kevin kelly “group-steering” video game example, and also reference the group efforts of wartimes]

[provide more links into site for parts of the PTGM]

[links to learn more]

These ideas also have some value related to other resources we can make more sustainable.

The three parts of this series are a kind of strategy-level approach to slowing climate change with faster and smoother transitions, anchored by a set of ideas (ProxThink and the ProxThink Growth Model) which are of value in a wide variety of situations.

[Extra appeal to proxri me, since there is not just one government or company or foundation or group or continent that either could have hired me to do this or should reward me for it, since climate change is something that affects people on earth. Reference my startup debt and my ProxMonitor.]

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

Slowing Climate Change: Faster and Smoother Transitions to Better Situations – Part 1


Climate change may well require us to make some transitions faster than markets and governments are typically capable of. There is usually resistance to change among those with entrenched interests, in both business and government. Competition can hamper speed when it is hard to share innovations because of intellectual property protections. And markets can be good for middle scale projects, but can have trouble managing changes when they require many small ad hoc efforts and/or efforts which require larger scale collaboration and coordination among diverse markets, governments, people and other elements.

So it is possible we will need some ways to coordinate efforts which get around these challenges. The ProxThink ProxPatterns, and the ProxThink Growth Model, may provide some help. Just as importantly, they can help in non-emergency situations as well, such as non-emergency climate change situations and other challenging situations.

The ProxThink ProxPatterns can suggest ways to change or adapt elements and relationships in a proximity, as well as evaluate or check actual or proposed changes. ProxPatterns provide clues about ways to start and how to progress, as well as provide options and help us deal with change. ProxPatterns allow for contradictions and complexity, yet can prevent situations from collapsing into chaos. ProxPatterns can help increase viable alternatives. ProxPatterns are simple enough for daily use, and powerful enough for some of our toughest situations.

The ProxThink Growth Model provides ways to collaborate and manage resources while encouraging growth. It contains aspects of ideas found in areas such as sustainability, open source development, competition, systems thinking, innovation, and cooperation, without being any of those exactly. It’s a synthesis, and results from taking a ProxPatterns perspective. It can encourage growth in a variety of ways and of various kinds (not only economic growth), for resources as well as people. This growth model has the potential to be sustainable, flexible, healthy, fun and efficient for people in the proximity of situations in which it is used. In turn, these qualities can help people grow, change, survive and thrive.

So combined, the ProxThink ProxPatterns and Growth Model may help us create more viable alternatives, collaborate and better coordinate our efforts to slow climate change, which may result in faster and smoother transitions to better situations.

Here are some links to explore ProxThink, join ProxThink, learn about ProxThink ProxPatterns, and learn about the ProxThink Growth Model.

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