Technology Plus New Processes Mean Better Collaboration for Dealing with Major Challenges


If we want to deal better with this recession/depression and with climate change, just for starters, we need to collaborate better.

Networks, such as the Internet, provide the technology. I believe the ProxThink growth model, used in a Sustainable Proximities approach, can provide new processes for using the technology of networks. Together, networks and the growth model can allow better collaboration.

As things are now, we’re acting a lot like helpless victims. We’re humans, and we have the power to change. We need to be experimenting with a number of new approaches.

Want another opinion on the need to experiment with different approaches? Check out this great article by Thomas Homer-Dixon, and don’t miss the last paragraph.

Let’s do it!

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

Networks, Nature and New Possibilities


Natural capital systems like ecosystem services haven’t fallen off a cliff, while our markets have. Shouldn’t we be more embarrassed that we can’t do better? I think we can.

Ecosystem services are things like drinking water, air to breathe, and decomposition of wastes. The earth keeps providing these for us without a break.

We have a highly developed market economy. Yet it can’t seem to function in a smoothly continuous manner. Not only do individual economies suffer ups and downs, but now it’s happening on a global scale.

Networks change the game. We live in an increasingly networked, participatory and transparent world, and that presents both positive and negative possibilities. ProxThink provides ways to think about, relate to, and make more of this new reality. The ProxThink growth model in particular, and the open standards it proposes, provides opportunities when combined with networks.

It often takes a generation to adapt to new technology. So we may not have really figured out how to best use the Internet and networks yet. It is also well known that we have trouble recognizing large, slow changes. This could account for our use of networks to often do old things in new ways, rather than new things that networks make possible.

Networks shift some of the focus from elements, such as objects, people, businesses and governments, to proximities. The ProxThink growth model was designed with networks and proximities in mind. The growth model presents opportunities for greater stability as well as greater variety and vitality, leading at the same time to greater sustainability.

The ProxThink growth model allows for the growth of proximities and people by allowing more direct relationships between individuals and proximities, a strategy used successfully by democracy, markets, and other processes. In essence, the idea is that proximities become things people can have relationships with by means of democracy and markets. The growth model provides new more sustainable and integrated, yet flexible, processes by which proximities become things people can have relationships with. These growth model processes are greatly enhanced by networks.

Specifically, by combining the Internet (and related technologies) with the ProxThink growth model, we can create more sustainable proximities. By shifting the focus to proximities, we could collaborate and work together better. There could be a bit less competition, and a bit more fun and variety. These sustainable proximities could then support diverse people and situations. I think it would result in less turbulence such as recessions and booms, which each seem to feed on themselves and exaggerate the ups and downs. The sustainable proximities we created might become more like the relatively stable ecosystem services we depend on and enjoy.

Again, for more, please see combining the Internet with the ProxThink growth model, and sustainable proximities. You also might also like this financial turmoil post.

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

Proximity Focus Bears Fruit



A few paragraphs down is our first press release. It’s also a great introduction to ProxThink.

In this press release, I introduce a proximity point of view as well as some new proximity-related practices for thinking, creativity, sustainability and growth. The release starts with the proximity and creativity, and ends with new perspectives and more sustainable approaches related to climate change, financial turmoil, websites, blogs and downloadable digital content such as music, movies, video, art, books and software.

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.



Proximity Focus Bears Fruit:
Proximity Focus Sparks New Ideas, Tools, Models and Standards which can Boost Thinking, Creativity, Growth and Sustainability, and which Relate to a Wide Variety of Challenges and Situations

Los Angeles, CA, November 10, 2008, 2:40 PM – “Whether you want to meet a challenge or have fun, or both, the proximity usually matters. From climate change to financial turmoil to business to conversations to parties, relating to the proximity usually makes a difference. It can boost creativity, enhance growth, and improve sustainability. Situations like climate change and financial turmoil may be telling us we need to relate better to proximities. Then add networks to the mix. Communication networks and the Internet are increasing our connections and relationships such that relating better to proximities may be less optional, since so many people and other elements may be part of our proximity via these networks. Yet networks present many opportunities too,” says ProxThink creator David Loughry. “The proximity is a useful way to think about connections, relationships, challenges and situations, since the meaning of proximity includes nearness in relationship. So the proximity may include people and other elements related to a situation in physical, mental, emotional, temporal, intuitive, technological, historical, social and many other ways. I’ve created an integrated set of ideas, tools, models and standards for relating to the proximity of situations. It’s called ProxThink, short for proximity thinking. ProxThink can boost thinking, creativity, growth and sustainability. It lets you start quickly and advance as you go. ProxThink can be used by individuals, friends, teams, neighborhoods, communities, businesses, organizations, governments, regions and people generally, since many proximities overlap. It relates to a wide variety of challenges and situations. You can use ProxThink online, as well as use the ideas and concepts wherever you are. The site allows free sign-up as part of your proxri-based membership, which is based on a new sustainable growth model for proximities that works especially well with the Internet.”

ProxThink relates to many different challenges, proximities and situations. In addition to relating to climate change, financial turmoil, business, conversations and parties, here are a few other examples: innovation, problem-solving, strategy, science, design, the arts, social relationships, collaboration, conflict resolution, resource management, growing community, writing, downloadable content (music, movies, video, art, books, software, etc.), intellectual property, business models, the evolutions of markets, and growth models for websites, web applications and blogs.

Loughry created ProxThink using his diverse background in the arts, science, design, philosophy, creativity and business. ProxThink began as an effort to capture something of what creativity and life are about, to help him relate to a wide range of situations. This led to an integrated group of sixteen patterns (ProxPatterns) for creatively and sustainably relating to situations, including ways to consider how the patterns relate to each other. In creating the patterns, he developed a structure (ProxThink Basics) for thinking about, describing, and relating to the proximity of situations, which includes a foundation, terms and tools. He then used the patterns and structure to create a growth model for putting them on the Internet in a sustainable way. The site includes concepts and definitions, explanations, tips, questions, examples, tools, background, and a start area with a variety of different ways to begin. ProxThink in general has aspects of a model or system, and while the word “framework” is a decent description, it is better considered as an integrated set of ideas, tools, models and standards.

Of particular interest is the interactive ProxThink Hints. This tool combines ProxPatterns with your answer to the question “What are you considering?” to create hint questions. These hint questions can generate ideas, possibilities, options, consideration and action. There are main hints using the sixteen ProxPatterns, sixteen followup hints expansions with further discussion and questions, a VIU Hint tool (which focuses on the interplay and synergy between the Relate a Variety, Honor Integrity and Allow Uncertainty ProxPatterns), a ProxThink Core Idea hint, pairs tools (which allow you to consider thirteen kinds of relationships between pairs of ProxPatterns), a three random hints generator (one from each ProxPattern group), ways to consider how your hints synergistically relate to each other, and links to related ProxPatterns, definitions, explanations, examples and further questions. The site also allows you to save ideas the Hints stimulate, and track your familiarity with the Basics and the ProxPatterns.

The growth model Loughry developed to sustainably put ProxThink online was used to develop a proxri-based membership approach for the site, featuring a Proxri Deal. How do you proxri? “Proxri,” pronounced prox’ree, is short for “ProxReward,” a reward of your choice, money or otherwise, which relates elements in the proximity. In usage, “proxri” can be both singular and plural. Allowing free sign-up for the site, the essence of the Proxri Deal is this: “As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.” The use of proxri allows many kinds of rewards, from money to thanks, referrals, links, resources, products, services, advice, suggestions, support, relationships, connections, collaboration, opportunities and so on. Proxri let you relate to the proximity, which includes your perspective as well as the perspective of the proximity more generally, including elements of the Proxri Deal such as Our Relationship, Your Rewards, and the ProxMonitor. Proxri suggestions are included if you want them or you don’t have time to explore the proximity of the Proxri Deal. Also supporting diversity, you have the ability to turn advertising on the site off and on with membership levels two and three. The Proxri Deal doesn’t require you to do anything, but you are asked to relate to the proximity. The growth model approach, and the proxri-based membership developed with it, is similar to the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler — you want the neighborhood, relationship, friendship or location you’re visiting to survive, thrive, and take care of you as you take care of it. This may sound idealistic, but given the connected nature of the web, it can be highly practical, efficient, flexible and even fun.

How does ProxThink support sustainability? Loughry believes the meaning of sustainability supports the possibility that diversity and complexity can persist, adapt and change as needed. He says, 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. Regarding a strength of proxri, he notes that 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.

“The Internet and related technologies, combined with the ProxThink growth model, present new opportunities to relate more directly to proximities, especially when we need to coordinate, manage resources and collaborate,” says Loughry. “Sustainability, diversity, and liveliness seem to be enhanced when elements, relationships and proximities can each relate to each other. 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. The ProxThink growth model provides processes for using the web to do so. This can help us coordinate, manage resources and collaborate more effectively, and presents other opportunities as well. Resources can range from materials and environments to efforts and information, and the approach can also solve some intellectual property and copyright problems the Internet helped create. This presents opportunities for people, from websites and blogs to projects for larger proximities. It may also create opportunities for some proximities to become sustainable resources or system services, much like ecosystem services such as air and water. I invite people to adopt and adapt the ProxThink growth model. I’m also looking for partners to further develop logistical, legal and technological systems and standards which support easy use and adoption of the growth model on the web.”

Almost any situation involving some combination of coordination, collaboration and resource management is a likely candidate for using a combination of the ProxThink growth model and the Internet, Loughry believes. This range covers many situations, from the serious to the enjoyable. After he used the growth model to create proxri-based membership for the ProxThink site, he began to explore other such opportunities. First he added Proxri Deals to both his art website and personal blog, and then he developed a downloadable content proposal, started a climate change project, and considered how the growth model relates to our financial turmoil. The proposal for downloadable digital content (music, movies, video, art, books, software, etc.) includes a Proxri Deal and standards for creators as well as fans and users of downloadable content, and can be found at ( The climate change project, called Proxearth, lays out a proposal for using the ProxThink growth model to address what are perhaps some of our greatest areas of need regarding climate change, which may be coordination and collaboration at local, regional and global scales. The project can be found at (, and includes things you can do right now if you have a website, blog, or use social software sites. Regarding our financial turmoil, Loughry thinks that financial markets benefit from the strengths of diversity in some ways but not in others, which may increase turmoil and decrease sustainability. This relates to aspects of financial decisions, financial relationships, and the proximities of financial markets. It turns out the challenges and possible solutions for financial markets also relate to other kinds of markets. He thinks that 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 growth model. A longer discussion of financial turmoil and markets can be found on the ProxThink River blog (

Loughry says it would be great if people proxri for his 30-plus years of evolving ProxThink, and to support further efforts. He has over $70,000 of startup debt due to ProxThink development, which you can see on the site ProxMonitor. He says: “I’ve had this urgency to get ProxThink ready to show and try in various situations. I believe it can play roles in situations in which creatively and sustainably relating to the proximity is critical, and there are many such situations. Further, I’m working on some of our common challenges, such as climate change and basic ways we coordinate, collaborate and manage resources. These efforts could help you, your kids and grandkids if you have them, and other people as well. It would be great if you could help out with my expenses or debt, or with some other kind of proxri, as well as tell others about ProxThink. There is much more I plan to do, and I’m also looking for people who want to get involved, whether related to ProxThink, or to artdown or Proxearth. We’ve got to find better ways of working and playing together. I believe I have found some. I’m putting them into action and hope you’ll join me.” On the ProxThink Dear Visitor page, he seeks support and lists needed actions, people and money. He is available to assist with the site and ideas, to introduce ProxThink, to consult and to collaborate. To use ProxThink and for more information, visit (

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