An Alternative for the Post-Industrial Period


An unpublished programmatic essay outlining the scope of ET&T’s ambitions: they wanted to become the techno-hub of counterculture. A nice illustration of Brodey’s faith in the fact that the post-industrial ethos was here to stay. The original is in Warren Brodey’s archives in Vienna.


The involvement of many people, children and adults, men and women, in the pursuit of ecological enhancement is more likely to ensure ecological survival than the engagement of a few experts in cleaning up the streams and smoke. The object of this description is to guess some ways this involvement of a multitude might happen - and to tell my thoughts of joining in.


There now exists an ecological crisis. It is experienced overtly by some and unconsciously by a significant minority, at least. There is a speed-up crisis feeling, an unspecified restlessness. This gives instant meaning to some new activities, even among those who avow disinterest in "ecological survival" for preserving our own species. It removes all but palliative meaning from activities once considered of major consequence - like establishing a national game preserve. The concern is planet-wide. It is growing.The concern is planet-wide.

Small symbolic events or natural confrontations - as a smog alert or power failure or infinite car jam now can become critical. 

If the measures to resolve the growing crisis are to be more studies or increased expenditures on uninvolving-scientifically-designed-negation of the causes, the urge to personal activity may be discharged destructively through the assignment of easily identified scapegoats. We are all engaged in a guerrilla war for survival of the species.

Already self-fulfilling blame has been assigned in order to find a familiar discharge of the stress. The basic nature of this has no precedent. The decline of industry and science as meaningful for young people's participation has begun; no alternatives are evident. Without youth involvement, research, education, industry, and government - the organizing institutions of our times - become relics. These relics are still powerful and sometimes, like Stonehenge, beautiful, but when laughed at by the young, they are without capacity for regeneration. But, relict trees may still shade and protect the newly relevant species, once these are manifest. There is a regeneration gap.

For they seed through standing in an ecology where they cannot find support. The void exists. Institutional capacity to meet the challenge brings the sense of chaos. This void is the powerful source of chaos which many communist, socialist, right, left, and new left politicians each use for their social pronouncements. These opera stars also are laughed at by the young.

The young fill the void by renewing their shared experiences of life. They don't value learned explanations, they disdain explanation itself, as a form of liberal magic - of substituting names for their events - like conjuring dolls in older witchcraft into self-fulfilling prophecy manservers. They renew new experiments with an almost religious belief that only personal, turned-on ecological skill can grow survival. There is a growing sense of hopelessness among those young who wish to identify an enemy and to trap whoever will fill the void.

The real fear is of ecological self-destruction.

Each person now has a button he can press, to bring destruction for all. But the focus against old forces' radicalism provides comradeship. It is not more than tokenism. It is, at best, the negative made of the classical position. The void exists. We do not have a critical synergism of tools, situation, wishes, and language. We are left without words. There exists only an open sense of how to grab the right thing when it happens. Of the birds that fly and stay to rest upon one's open hand, there are some whose direction can be taken as a better way for us to walk. The change is perception. We experience as we shift our values; this makes the value shift more experiential. Changes in values and experience generate new species.

There is a longing to organize around a mysticism that confirms hope - "The Age of Aquarius." The tools and toys that feel right will catch on. They will spread like wildfire. This is my belief, and my work is to help create the tools to confine the new hope that biological ways of being are natural to us as living creatures. We had become captured by our machines, autos, roads, washers, etc.


I want heightened awareness and new skills - this is a widespread wish. Drugs do heighten awareness and are used even in the face of an established taboo. Tribal communes are becoming commonplace. So far, it is a pioneering venture - but tribalism grows. Craft and industrial communes which produce high-variety art products, urban dwelling clubs that produce psychedelic environments, encounter groups that use TV tape for self-development, black light and strobe devices to produce unusual experiences - these are a part of the new picture. Anyone who has lived with a teenager knows that this round of being young is quite different than that of previous generations. The search to gain the skills necessary for avoiding the pitfalls of the past has resulted in the meager beginnings of new, informal, educational networks as well as an enormous void where previous institutions once stood firm.

Young adults no longer leave teaching to "their elders." They teach each other. The 'elders' sense this as a void. With marijuana, and peyote as a common experience, the young report perceiving themselves as a node on a flowing network of behaviors and consequences, rhythmed into organic assemblages.

LSD gives this non-Aristotelian relational talk consequence. What was religious is now valued as common sense; it then seems strange that communion until recently belonged to the church. Sacredness is now given to action towards survival.

Any tool, event, ritual, myth, or language that provides even the slightest carrier capacity for the kind of mystic relational or process message deemed to be right to fill the void previously discussed is immediately welcomed, used, reproduced, cherished, and paid for in the old specialization exclusive way. Whatever will provide a means of reducing the sense of ambiguous hopelessness, lack of effectiveness, and meaninglessness, in a way that is not "bullshit," will be valued. Of the many ways - some of us see tools and toys as a way of breaking through into crystallizing what is now void. Power tools cannot be designed as the electrical tools produced by the military, industrial, and medical instrumentation makers. Our tools and toys, in their process of being and becoming, must provide a means of sketching relationships at the level of complexity that occurs in ecological situations. If they even begin to be able to carry this kind of relational message, they will become used by the many.

There is a history to the tools and toys we seek. Cybernetics in the 40s designed devices to imitate biological systems and to use relationships like those familiar in multi-person living networks. Devices were made to embody purpose - like a sidewinder to destroy an aircraft and its people. Cybernetics is usually related to electric experience.

[Crossed out: The young have only begun to explore non-military-space-medical embodiments of the kinds of relationships they are interested in. The young are mostly sickened by the uses of science and technology they see in Vietnam, etc. Strangely, they do not see cybernetics as related to this technology. The cybernetic tools and toys engineered during the years since - the Human use of Human Beings - would be of little use in meeting the appetites that this book developed. The Navy and Air Force have generated the demand for cybernetic sophistication and supported its development. The tools and toys developed have not been used to enhance human functioning. They have been used instead to make large mechanical machines more flexible and reliable. ]

We are sickened by the use of cybernetics for scientific-military purposes.

But, until the present generation, there was no demand, there was equally no access to or market for electronic devices explicitly designed to explore the human's gentle reach into his ecology. There was no money for the building of demonstration tools and toys to fertilize this cycle. The change of values that has occurred leads thinking in cybernetic ways even among those who would have no knowledge that their style could be so described.

Children understand media and its effects more than the "square people" consider possible. They enjoy the media crafts, and are beginning to know media consequences, for example, in gathering a group for ecological action.

The industrial community, now unstable during the transition to peace-time uses, would like to find uses for the cybernetic skills already learned. Automation of peace-time educational services is one way they think to go. Design of urban housing is another. Design of cities is a third. Computerizing for its own sake has been their tool. Elaborate computerized and well-living people are more difficult to account for than those effects that produce only goods or body counts. Blueprints cannot represent complex and evolving people, housing, and political relationships.

The public awaits a new enemy. Whoever attempts to industrialize housing or urban development will provide the next scapegoat. Industry cannot patch old institutions without suffering, nor can industry make use of its skills in computation and communication unless a focus is found that provides a means of satisfying a public need without attacking the political status quo. The computer industry and the communication industry, in particular, have more capacity to produce cheap machine behaviors than they know how to market. They have as yet little skill in enhancing interfacing so that common people could use their devices. They have not learned the facts of life because they were protected by the military-industrial-educational elitists or expert power. This is failing.

There is a market ready and developing rapidly to support a leadership cybernetic industry that focuses the creations of other industries to provide products not only valued for themselves but as nodal points in the new learning of cybernetic ecology. The buyer of cybernetic tools and toys learns to find increasingly meaningful behaviors in the tool he creates by his intervention into its behavior. The tool is easily shaped for it is not hardened to a single purpose. The man-tool-environment behavioral dialogue becomes an experiencing system. The system being courteous, the user discovers that he can create fresh access and behaviors from the dialogues he has learned to be a complex part of. In real life, the dynamic situation of energy - information - meaning will ultimately create more meaning and thus live more life. This is the secret of ecological wealth: money, as it provides access to resources that one wants, may be wealth. This form of currency is presently devalued.


There is a yearning in many young people for the "right" tools and toys. This yearning, I believe, adheres to whatever provides a way towards control of the spiritual towards species destruction. Technical skills and production capacity are abundant. The mood is still for and against the "impersonal ways" of the military, with little “people technology” being demonstrated. Industries highly specialized in combat support are not easily turned to individual and group self-discovery unless this transition to valued hopelessness defeats filling the void. The elements are at hand, ready for the shift in attitude that is germinating.

There are ways of making artificial environments and mixed artificial natural environments that show ecological principles in a personalized way - and allow each person or his group of people to find his or their own principle. Private groups of strong but jobless people, each doing their own thing, so that they can weather the present economic crisis, are forming.

Human energy awaits becoming relevant. Being told what to do by experts is no longer the focus of value. The expert system has been too costly to those who have no jobs, whose companies are bankrupt.

What can be done becomes available for personal exploration. Social joyless rescuing the oppressed - save our children from pollution - is viewed with suspicion - the age of guilt is over.

The time is ripe to set up the network - it is urgent to do so: there need be no concern about monetary profits if the job is ever done poorly. Survival appetite does not see the value as a quiet organized society. Madison Avenue and TV have revealed the use of guilt for selling and over-exposed its sacredness. The yearning is so extreme that whoever provides a focus will find his operation profitable if short-lived. It is ecological soundness that will be the longer term organizer.

What are some of the tools and toys that might fill the gap - given that their particular form will depend on the total node involved in their design, manufacture, and marketing? Let us think of possible people, energy, information materials environments and their financing, use and growth together but not as uniform or centralized with a hierarchy of organization. We are selling process - a way of enjoying producing. Out of this grow products in the old sense. The products are one manifestation of the process, one offshoot, but they may not be the means of growth of the network as much as the enjoyment of their development, manufacture, and distribution provides. This is not to diminish the value of the product well made but to add the value of the making itself, so often accomplished with mechanized pain.

Consider a ghetto group, young individualistic types. They have little schooling in making but a few of their gang had worked in defense plants before they broke down, and they know others. They want to set up an entertainment club in an old synagogue that now is abandoned because of neighborhood threats. They want it to be a place that will attract many of their friends to join their club, and to join in an urban commune too, though this possibility is not initially declared. They have developed a housing commune owned communally, and stores owned by the members of the commune. Right now, they want an environment where the musicians, as they play, change the color, acoustics, size, radiant heat of the hall in dialogue with the audience who lie on the floor propped on plastic beds which move in a dialogue with the user, the style of this dialogue including response to the music.

They want to begin with a hall that senses the audience and musicians rhythming together and rhythms with or against or in a contrapuntal way. They are willing to start crudely with controls available to the audience. In the process of creating this environment they believe one or several artists will emerge who will grow to enjoy designing within this new environmental media. They already have befriended out of work engineers who previously helped create spaceships and their guidance systems. They have already begun to sense that the environment they create for their 'dancing hall' will carry enough ecological complexities to let them learn by doing - new kinds of relationship complexity. These people also want to set up a store network that helps people learn when the food is good, what is ripe, where, and will encourage communal buying. They see using computer technology to help in the otherwise complex bookkeeping. They expect that software will handle problems that previously prevented such networks.

This vision is still contemplative; their community is just beginning to know the possibilities that grow with their interest in going beyond the technology of the drum and the saxophone to new kinds of instruments. They are excited, free, but have no access to tools that would teach them to use the next round of tools. They are only beginning to know how to keep away from those who would exploit their courage for token abundance, doomed to failure in the old sense of that word. They are only beginning to see the value of searching out ignorance and enjoying filling the gap. They have avoided the purchase of high-cost precious tools. They want easily repairable, easily combined, nice-to-touch tools. For their club, they want, at first, body motion sensors, body heat sensors, light air-filled walls, floor vibrators, cushion pressure variations controlled by the sensors. And they see all these relationships valued by artists, and this creation encourages more and more of the audience to become artists within the new context they create. This dialogue is a part of what they wish to produce. This kind of loop conception, where behavior rather than its analytical presentation is sensed crudely and directly and recycled, is quite easy for the black man to play with in tools, if not in words; but I use this example simply because I then speak of real events.

[crossed out: The musicians want to build these tools themselves but must begin with concepts and components provided they want to pay back in a percentage of profits, in spreading the network, and in creating new tools, i.e. the spread of the decentralized network. Black Music Inc, for example, if it got turned on would itself build several other nodes, each independently doing its own thing but network connected.]

If the initial group grows, then the plan is to build several other nodes, each independently doing its own thing but network connected. You can see the possibilities for community cable recordings, exchanges by barter of things and services. Each independent node would make its own choice of where it could gain wealth, one group providing service in apartment houses, another one – special environments suited to user fantasy or need. Ecology Tool and Toy seeks to help in the formation of these networks, profiting by experience and each new sense of the needs.

Club and home environments might be served by groups like combos, companies, communes, or corporations of musicians who evolved their way from music to making total art of their livelihood. They gain as well by teaching other groups to do their own thing with total environments, which facilitate the values of people's activities that grow from facilitated involvement. Many people will enjoy creating their own environments and building their own channels of enriched communication with their children, these working friends who share values.

The Asterisk is presently a boutique selling posters, bell bottoms, pipes to the trade, and has a line of turn-on environmental goods, colored eyeglasses, funny eyeglasses with prisms, incense and other smell gadgets, minimal audio equipment (people go next door to buy the real sounds), the shoes that are soft-soled for touching the ground sensitively, they have furs for lining beds. There are colored lamps that cycle in simple patterns, candles that sputter rhythmically. The group who manages the store would like to be able to provide the "turned on" with a greater variety of environmental playthings than strobes and candles. They are doing poorly now because their goods are clichés and have no capacity for evolving with their buyers. Turning on with a strobe to see oneself in a new light requires a much richer way next time.

The technology of MIT, which is located nearby, has never been turned on to how to make a strobe exciting or a home lighting more to one's liking, or an environment in which one can enjoy trying to feel the kind of movement of a tiny wish underwater without being drugged like Alice. Can those who have lived in foreign cultures bring more home than posters and things? "Foreign environments" experienced at home are more than geography, sociology, or reading the kids' social studies.

My friend with the boutique would like to buy more electronic turn-on-the-environment, new sensations, and learning equipment. He would like to get people playing at finding the experiences they recognized abroad again. He would like to find ways of play that were gentle and rich. He would love to sell a crib that made music by tape recording the notes of a child crying or the mother singing - then changing these chords that were pleasing to the mother and child. Then the mother or child could play his way into complexity by the way he sang or called out or cried again. He would like to have to play with at first among his friends; then he wants simple prototypes that his customers could elaborate. He would want the child or his brother to play with lighting, sound, or a rhythmic air mattress in a way that was organic, natural. Sales would not be difficult; the problem is breaking out of the values that would make the building of a child's environment by his family a lovely event for the child and his family and friends. Whoever created a crib - or a larger environment - or a toy that worked would join in providing this boutique and others with a way to participate in the new venture.

Manufacturing communes might be another node on the network; they might, for example, specialize in apparatus to be supplied directly to consumers or through Environmental Toy Boutiques, or Environmental Clubs like the Black Music Inc. Group. Amanda [EM: I think he means Ananda?] is one such commune in Pennsylvania; but there are now many communes building.

I have another friend who is currently building sailboats for the Caribbean. He has a large factory in a rented aircraft hangar that is for aircraft use, obsolete. His product is highly competitive, and those who gave him the capital to go into business have arranged to take over rather than let him adventure with their money. He would like to build Sea Homes, providing the shells and the ways to go further. These are homes for people to vacation in, or live in. Many people live on shallow coral plateaus, six to twelve feet in depth. The house he suggests can be submerged or anchored or lifted on self-contained hydraulic pilings. It is a fiberglass urethane structure - perhaps shaped like the plastic containers for shipping air freight. The manufacture is simple from a mold. It is not just a container, for a man and his family can go there to play with the fish and sea help and to eat and live off the sea without returning to land except to vacation.

Imagine a colony off Honduras where the coral rolls in. I have a friend who was fishing shrimp off this coast; that's how I met the boat builder. The shrimp seeking group assures me that the sea is full of fish and plants to eat. I want to enjoy scuba diving. A colony of scientist types living in sea homes offshore might concern itself with sea farming or developing techniques for sea farming or better for getting people to try out the water environment.

The sea home would be initially supplied with underwater listening equipment, with the means of recording and playing back underwater sounds and watching by remote TV, and directly fish, and other water life activity. Slow motion, speeded time-lapse photography, even modification and large field pattern storing (schools of fish as entities). Imagine these are natural to modern T.V. portable equipment. The scientist types may never have gone to school but simply be the kind of people who have learned or yearned for years about fish because that's their thing. Such people exist now but there are no special environments for these.

Imagine such a colony interlinked by local TV so they could show each other what they saw. Imagine the joy in such a colony perhaps linked to support groups who use their output of live and recorded TV to enrich their knowledge and their children's. The children's questions are answered by people on the site. Such support groups could include people talented in interspecies communication - they would suggest and support the development of fresh equipment and techniques for use.

Now we can flip back to the Electric Boutique which provides tools for listening to animals and machines as they make sounds in frequency ranges not audible to the unaided human ear. Those who use the Boutique would become aware that their children's hearing is damaged by the high-frequency sounds of tires on pavement; they would demand more pollution sensing equipment, as well as equipment to let them appreciate what their children can hear (15-19,000 KC) that their parents can't. Some would change their living places to deal with these pressures, their child's shells from pollution damage. In the boutique, toys are sold that use the difference in hearing level to allow children to communicate privately at frequencies unheard by adult ears.

A group of nodes on our network are children's interest centers: where children could pursue interests much as adults do since the communication network would be set for accessing in their style. Body skills used by adults or children would access equipment for learning of one's body environment and of increasingly skilled programming of those tasks that require heightened body awareness and control. Equipment now used by professional athletes can be redesigned to allow inexpensive skill-learning aides that assist in learning or relearning.

The people associated with these human skill centers would enjoy network relationships with other species experiencing nodes. Insulating and studying aquatic creatures may help us to relearn entering the aquatic world. Groups interested in debriefing "primitive" peoples with different body skills than ours would certainly be easily joined in the mix, as would the design of mobile laboratories for capturing unusual skills threatened with extinction as they become for the time being useless.

Study of the shells of other sensory or motor cultures as groups of blind, deaf, crippled or ailing people with specifically altered physiology would be a part of this network as would the debriefing of those just relieved of a deprivation, e.g., an older person. At the first level of our network development, we are speaking of making available inexpensive skin galvanic response sensors, eye movement sensors, muscle stimulators, alpha rhythm pickups all in the form of toys that have no medical threat. It would be our own wish to avoid interfering with the medical union except as another place to market toys for training the ill to gain control - for example, to learn to lower their own blood pressure as Mitchell has demonstrated at the Rockefeller Institute. Propagating the use of sensors and artificial movement aides to help people change walking style so as not to injure arthritic joints, to reduce back pain, etc. can be seen as a function of this group. How much yoga-like control people would like to learn is a question of rewards not yet anticipated and ease of evolving tools to help. These might be augmented by hypothesis, drug breakthrough or prejudice that the principal skill is beyond human grasp.

Our further type of network node to be seeded, found, encouraged, grown, or set up by Ecology Toys and Tools Corporation is an Environmental Design Group. This would seek to join ecological nodes such as the Sea Homes industry, and the Sea Home user participation colony, to the interspecies communication specialists by creating , perhaps , before it would grow of its own , according to a prototype Special Sea Environmental Vessel. Buying perhaps an old LST or , if more ambitious , a passenger ship or renting space on a cruise ship, they would transform it into a floating sort of apartment house , sea home with specialized environments in it to bring people as close as possible to interacting in a sea environment. We would use the parts of the ship considered of low value. Here we are speaking by analogy of special farm environments, a special desert, forest, lake, etc. environments - each bringing its user in close to their ecology as they communicate and in dialogue within the special location chosen - using the tools suggested by analogy for sea homes - e.g. , field covered TV, telemetry of animal sounds, and location TV of seeking and on site opportunities to wh... with other species in their language if only imitation.

What are the characteristics of the Ecological Tool and Toy Corporation?

1. Its program is designed to increase man's pleasure in surviving: and to mobilize his work on ecological necessities by providing tools and toys that give access to participant ecological play and considered action. Presently the yearning men feel for ecological action is frustrated by the lack of tools and toys other than those that would destroy antique institutions without filling the gaps left by their loss. Destructions alone do not insure survival. The time delay before the gaps are filled may be lethal.

2. Its program is designed to increase the variability of functional people-action-environmental groupings - nodes on the network. Enhancement of variability rather than sameness allows self-organizing stability to take the place of artificial regulations.

3. The management of the Ecological Tool and Toy Network is considered as a tool to be exported, explored, and evolved through daily interaction with the environment. It is ordered for changing rapidly to meet with changing local conditions and for maintaining integrity through elegant interfacing with its environment. Enhanced communication within man's ecology is the function the corporation seeks to sell.

4. The network is designed to evolve itself and its own redesign; it is designed to increasingly embody the principles of dialogue learned in its behavior. It is in this sense self-referent. The effort to pre-design the network is made with this in mind. We seek to design at the outset the requirements that will allow its evolving beyond these designs.

5. The tools and toys originally conceptualized can be categorized as those which enhance human control of the environment by reason of increasingly helping the human to learn that he is an environment in dialogue with the environment around him. It is our belief that this comprehension of being a richly interactive ecology, creates an enriched human species. We speak of interaction as being a behavior rather than a set of symbols (though this is also behavior**).** We can no longer value "understanding" as if we were separate from what we understand. We are a part of an understanding immersion.

6. The tools and toys are to be pre-designed originally to reflect and reinforce the above institutional orientation. Whoever gets involved with these tools finds himself asking ecologically significant questions and learning answers. The tools are designed to help man create micro-ecologies in which he acts, and this is the constraint that differentiates the tools and toys of this corporation. Thus, for example, 

A. our tools & toys are to be pre-designed so as to allow user redesign or reworking e.g. they can easily be disassembled so as to become parts of other systems, assemblages being nodes on an electronic network 

B. "quality" is ease of keeping the toy or its subassembly of high interest in use 

C. the tools and toys are conceptualized in terms of behaviors they provide rather than the object they make up. Each node joining other assemblages does not necessarily add its previous characteristics - we are dealing with nonlinear systems. 

D. But each assemblage ideally will have self-referent, self-organizing capacities with enough means of displaying behavior that it can be known even if not understood by its user. The limits of its self-referent behavior should be adjustable by its user or by an (its) adjacent environmental node - one that shares in the effect of its behavior. Thus, nonlinearity does not mean randomness just that one must learn the special use of each assemblage as it varies to within limits from the next 

E. the lowering of cost is considered to be by reason of reducing self-sufficiency of any particular element in an assemblage, so that it is valued more as it allows to learn how to manage - to use it in assemblages that fulfill our need for involvement in gaining 'what we want,' transcending pre-design. 

F. We do not wish to engage in competition with the life support, "keep the plane in the air" industries. Each unit will be expected to be sufficiently different from the next. So that its loops of behavior are interesting, and not completely repetitious. We want to be able to engage it at a level of complexity that pleases us often. Since the assemblages are self-referent, the amount of variability will be controllable by changing the limits of self-reference. Thus, it is the range of possible performance that is allowed to widen, and the number of parameters of variation, e.g. variation of materials used to make a single assemblage. Building a device with this kind of componentry is more like assembling a colony of relatively unique individuals to perform a task together, than like manufacturing children to be sufficiently alike that they will fit into older institutions. If a component or sub-assemblage is too far out, it is used in another assemblage where the unique feature is valued. We are stabilizing relationships rather than lining up things. The technology being cited is already available to inventors though it is not currently respected. I speak for example of Ovshinsky's glass transistors. Means of displaying behavior of electrical components and their behavioral relations which enhance the traditional scope have yet to be devised but here we are into the problem of interfacing the human with this electrical environment - and this is an area where available skills need to be put to work to develop tools. Learning to sense the right rhythm, change, and slope in a pulsing balloon held in the hand may be more useful and far cheaper than a numerical read out, but here we speak of hands already enhanced by use from childhood for skills other than writing, fighting, or driving. Once we have left military specs, the job becomes easier, trial and error with a large number of extra assemblages is a valid possibility when electronic components themselves are so cheap to manufacture - though human handling is expensive. A statistically derived number of components in each package so that one is right may actually cost less than quality control in some situations. Again we are into getting relationships balanced rather than exact. This is pertinent particularly if high efficiency value is given to maintaining interest in building the system in a way that is novel and adds unexpected uses. The change of values from traditional electronics is now manifest. Fooling around, playing, interacting becomes a way of learning about ecological relations. We are building skills at sketching these relationships with varying behavioral modalities. Can you imagine being able to create a complex behavior out of electronic and other components to show what you mean because ordinary language symbols cannot carry the message?

G. It is expected that the toys and tools marketed originally will be of quite low reliability and interesting variability. They accordingly would be used first in obtaining variable effects in environments where one's own pleasure and capacity to learn is challenged. The user will be expected to enhance the system by the way he interconnects it to his actual environment, so that it allows him to play with whatever patterns that develop and gradually learn to enhance the behavior of the system by the way he intervenes, becoming an environment to it that it must learn to deal with. Such computing elements avoid the problem of everyone being programmed by having exactly the same computer that they must join in order to have it pay attention to their message. It may be that higher reliability components would initially be sold more cheaply. In each case, the nature of the component or assemblage would be stated as honestly as possible, and the advantages for personalizing having variability would be illustrated as well as ways of making the variability useful. High reliability can be obtained by a redundancy of variable loops, which entrain to a dominating rhythm or are filtered in a particular way, etc.

7. In the above 6, a technology is expounded that is not generally familiar. Ecological assemblages are not like previous industrial assemblages. The user takes advantage of variation; he does not value sameness. A field planted in rows of corn is not as ecologically valuable as one where corn is planted among other plants who synergistically derive, for example, just the right shade and soil conditioning from the corn's growth. Such a stand of corn may likewise be able to profit from microclimate variations that the smaller plants use. But here we speak of high-variety redundant systems, and have to feel good in the one person's hand who is likely to use it. But the good shape of a glass to a hand is not simply molding it to fit the hand; it is making decisions on the base of the dialogue between the materials: glass, hand shapes, experiences, values, concepts, etc. ad infinitum. 

Here is work for an artist and each man in our network becomes such a relationship artist in his own way. He is not working. He is making and doing his own thing. Young people enjoy this creation; those well trained to the industrial system as machines would abhor it. Those who enjoy working with relationships may be many more than comments from the industrial world on the difficulty in finding responsible people would lead us to expect. This is a valid question to which we need an early answer. Is creating an ecology for survival to be a task of the few or, in the long run, [of the] many? If it is the few, I doubt we shall survive. The Ecology Tool and Toy Corporation is a "turn on" organization.


Evolutionary systems evolve best when they find a niche which is unoccupied by predators, where nourishment abounds, where the climate of the time provides the right time nexus - a right crossing of many variables. The time is right now for an Environmental Ecology Tool and Toy Corporation to be founded and to grow. The form of the corporation initially may not resemble its final form at the time of maturation (and then death). The growth, I suspect, should begin modestly, but for a species to survive, even if it has a niche, it must soon reach a critical mass for its task, and 'modestly' must be interpreted within the context that each mode needs to maintain its own task orientation and excellence in communication. 

I would suggest initially buying a group of companies each of whom would provide a beginning for the forms of tools and toys that are needed, starting first then with sales of hard tools and toys to the groups who are interested, while a group of laboratories, each small and individualistic, creates a series of soft tools and toys using their own skill plus the experience that ET&T can provide in how to develop such soft, congenially interfaced, and ecologically based systems. 

It is anticipated that, given the right reputation, the corporation, now the network, would quickly gain a network of nodal people and groups of people, each willing to set up his own company if he could gain access to users, materials, other expertise, and tools for exploring. The promise of rapid turnover of ideas into ideas being used or discarded for good reason would satisfy many nodal people as much as money - people value making ideas work more than money. And a good communication chain would allow such rapid turnover of ideas.

But from the outset, the development of the pressure towards ecological tools and toys would have to be explored with the idea of touching the imagination of those who know the yearning, and moving them to action, to the network the embodiment of their yearning whether it will be to stop pollution, do political work, enhance themselves and the ecology they live within, or any combination of these. To begin, we must begin; that is the way with evolutionary systems as compared to pre designed systems.


In this report, a vision is built of an action course where cybernetic and ecology principles are basic to the whole growth process of the institution designed to sell tools and toys that teach ecology by their use. The structure of Ecological Tool and Toy Corp. must be an explorable tool (and toy), or the company will not have its rightful growth potential. To some, the statements made may seem not far enough out; to others, too electronic and mechanistic.

These are enormous banks of wild energy waiting to be channeled by a visionary, & almost religious skill in holding to what in the present context will seem an unyieldingly optimistic view that many can participate in the change to turned on personal environments - personalized clothes, homes, farming, transports, intercommunication with other people, machines, etc. 

I say, only this optimistic view will fulfill its prediction. People will buy plastic packaged environmental gear, but only if they know that this provides the right 'way.' They will thoughtfully use this electronic, mechanistic, interactive, playful, high variety, body oriented, multisensory, easily interfaced, etc., turned on stuff, and use it if they feel they are a part of the creative action. You couldn't write a manual of instructions detailed enough to turn the kind of interactive devices we suggest into automobile-like commodities - everyone wants one to keep up with the Joneses. 

Everyone will care to enjoy having a place in their home where they can have their body movement intervene in the interactive loops set up in the space. They will want a shower that changes its water temperature so that clumps of water of different temperatures titillate their skin - and the bath becomes not only washing but designing ways of interfacing with the water system so as to grow even more delicious textures of bubbles, drops, clumps, sprays of water, odor, color, sound - and an extravaganza in their bathroom that shows their creative skill. But this will not happen because such tools and toys are nationally sold in the old style - rather because there are ecological clubs, boutiques, communes, projects which in any community focus energy on learning ecology by building micro environments which, with their users, are micro ecologies that require ecological knowledge for their creation and development. And each person who breaks through to new understanding must know that this will be valued in the larger scale ecological planning, e.g., farm or village or city planning, that his group is involved with.

What has been said may seem vague to those who do not realize that the ecologist looks for the right energy, knowledge, people, time nexus - the people and place and toys where growth will evolve its own direction rather than redesigning products. I believe that this product side will look after itself, more than the people side of our process. The right people will invent more products that are right and catch on than any old-time product engineer of the concerned- about-profit-only-kind could muster. I believe in the time epoch that Ecological Tool and Toy Corp is to cover the next ten years, cash profitability will be much greater if there is leadership in the nature of the corporation as a social invention matching its product invention. But I am now repeating - it is so easy to lose this message for me as well as the reader.

Certain problems have not been faced. How should the Ecology Tool and Toy Corp. be started? I do not as yet know the interested participants or their frame of reference. There is no right way of starting that does not include the strengths that are already in the founding group. The right structure will detail itself as the founding group meets and specific new persons enter to set up each their own thing, with local money as much as possible. The founding group would seek to catalyze rather than use up their energy in getting the ball rolling. 

Each new breakdown of the traditional system means more energy unbound and ready for constructive creation of the social tools that fill the void - whatever they may be. Each move even into ecological thinking sets value to high variety organization rather than the uniformity and simplistic values for all that previous politics espoused. Each new communication network which rapidly and broadly accesses information stabilizes our ecosystems in a way that frees its energy for growth - life creating life out of complexity rather than out of competitive destruction. The days of living in the world of competitive games were over once the bomb joined man's world. 

We are ready now to transcend this form of killing in order to survive, using in its place the capacity for each person to enrich himself and his environments as a source of nourishment for larger, more demanding and ecologically skilled populations yet to come. If there does not arrive on the scene a new kind of people - we are not likely to survive as a species. The new kind of people already here need and want our relation and can provide the answers to questions which now seem beyond our groping.


I still feel one item is missing. What is the image of the year 1980 that I see?

Clothing: People will create their own clothing using cloth which is locally created by man. Computation mechanical systems will allow one to almost hand shape the pattern to a particular person's wishes, with the effort being behavioral - patting and twisting the machine interface just right, and in a reasonable way rather than typing in any number formula. The clothing will provide local direct heating as well as variable insulation to each part of the body by its own behavior, effecting this control. Some of the clothing will be specially designed to telemeter the environment information, allowing the environment and user to engage in dialogue together. The dialogue will be expressions partly in symbol form and partly by direct expressions, which allow prediction of appetite and environmental possibilities for change, given the group of persons in dialogue.

A room: Some special rooms will be soft in the sense of being artificial organisms - pets that please their user or users. We have already in our laboratory gone a long way towards designing this kind of room. The floor will not be flat but it may flatten to the user's steps if that is his preference. Selectively inflatable walls will allow a room to change size and touch texture, as well as radiant heat emission, etc. Interaction air streaming, acoustical shaping of areas of high variety resonance in a single space depending on one's entering movement, smell patterning, movement etc., will all be used for personal pleasure, for intensive emotional sharing in creating together, and for feeling one's way into another person or group's language of being.

Homes will be made of special interfacing rooms as above, simple monastic cells, meditation places, information from the past spaces, tingling olden times for the purpose of finding unexplored ecological niches imperceivable once 'progress' has followed its chain of decisions. They will, I suspect, be created of a combination of passive filler materials, active intelligent materials (soft control substance, see E.E.L. report), lightweight strong support structures, and intermingling with all living plant and animal forms which engage in the total ecological dialogue.

The people will not use words for as broad a purpose as now; they will have multimedia displays continually at their disposal. Much information will be exchanged by the way they interact in commonly controlling the rich environment, and organizing their ecological interactions. These people will be used to continuously living with, and dealing with, a level of information that we would not know how to manage. They would be unaware that it was difficult for us - what we now would consider ecological sophistication would seem obvious to them, as would the fact that a multivariant system evolves its own controls from inside rather than worrying about imposing long-term, large-size hierarchy of repetitions control. The age of politics as we know it would be over; what would replace it, I cannot conjure.

Transport would be much more local and discontinuous than presently, with interpenetration of cultures and locations by means of communication, not only of descriptions of differences but also by raising the feel artificially created to engender understanding of the different language appropriate to the different circumstances. Context is never avoided. Communication is built, channeled, and simultaneous as in dialogue, and therefore 'cool'. Vastly different individualistic perspectives do not prevent communication when a context is also available for mutual play and illustration.

Pleasure, Challenge, and Meaning will be valued and understood to the extent that states of apparent timelessness, as when one is completely absorbed in a task, will be available at will. There will be no separation of work and play, or information and meaning. Involvement will be caring and doing rather than discussing. Creating will be valued for its own sake rather than for products in micro and macro environments. Skill in interfacing will allow, for example, whole body movements of someone playing with an amoeba to guide a probe against the amoeba's side that again responds in dialogue to his motions even as the whole body presses again, and both amoeba and human may intervene actively in each other's behavior. I expect the element of danger will be used as a challenge. Ways of feeling bodily and in personal size the sensed flow of large ocean currents may allow interaction by guiding a remote active drone that explores the streaming, etc. Given that people are doing their own thing and do not have uniform basic information to start from, there will be much more territory for personalized exploration. People will use the 'to whom it may concern' message system to find those with whom dialogue in a particular idiosyncratic language is possible. Interspecies communication will have begun.

Micro and Macro Time Segmentation. People will be used to perceiving the difference between phenomena when viewed from different time conditions, different rhythms, clocks, etc. The effort to play with rhythms and to learn the timing skills that allow simplifying complex systems to manageable time networks will be already a part of design technology. Long-term as year conditions will be played with in time-compressed dialogue, like time-lapse movies. Micro time will be similarly made familiar.

Children: That children will be considered as highly developed from conception, but with different structural size and time relations to their environments, naturally follows from the above. The idea of children being less developed than adults is as yet an unchallenged fantasy—one of the many linear concepts likely to be lost as the new ecological thrusts become manifest. As children are differently perceived, the rapid behavioral transition predicted by this description will become self-reinforcing. The new societies will value the skills of children as a joy rather than a burden. Presently uninhabitable land will be highly valued. The population explosion, CO2 pollution of the atmosphere, radioactive and other waste pollution; diseases of transport, communication, and public health will all render the above developments necessary.

Necessity is the mother of invention. It is my belief that the Ecology Tool and Toy Corporation has a part to play in the above course of development.


It has been shocking to me to realize that there are very few among the older generation who realize the level of ecological sophistication already present in the mythology and practices of the young when they 'dig each other in their own way.' 

My own path has not been via drugs or a life experience of television science electronic speed up. As a physician, a psychiatrist, a specialist in intrafamily communications, I became aware that there were vastly different information levels being comfortably processed in different families, and that I could spot those that were bringing up their children to romp in the complex real world. Their body movements, finger touch, complexity of ideation, level of inconsistency, imagination, etc., were all of a different variety. And I realized that there was a need to understand health and abundance of information, computing power, material variety, external people, toys, tools, pets, etc. 

The hang-up was that dialogue as a simultaneous loop phenomenon carried on with many languages—body movements, talk, eye blinking, action in respect to environment, etc.—was not being studied in a gestalt process way. Yet modern computing, which could process human information at a speed that would be experienced as without lag by the human, was available for work. I wished then to build a way of embodying man-man dialogue in man-machine, man-computer, man-environment systems, and to define a language of dialogue.

I left my psychiatric practice and went to M.I.T. for four years and NASA for one year to pick up people, knowledge, and funds necessary for the pursuit of this exploration. We formed a team, with the help of Warren S. McCulloch, and received a grant for eighteen months of work to go into the language of dialogue with the experience of man he knows least about—his dialogue with his environment. 

The language we developed was a beginning awareness that there exists a simple ecological language more easily transferable into man-environment ecological behavior systems that can be stabilized dynamically than in symbols we have known. First comes the show, then the tell. We have built a laboratory that begins to show the ecological language, at first by illustrating the need to unlearn the old simplicities such as that "there is final truth without context," which McCulloch calls the cathedral of "holy, high, eternal noon,” where everything is stopped while the scientist makes clean observations.

Our show materials have provided us with the feasibility studies that give us the knowledge that complex ecologies can now be built by trial and error within a frame that is to some small degree defined. Here are some of our findings:

1. The interfacing available between man and computer tends to overwhelm his groping with the need to grope within the needle's eye that threads one into the computer's skill. We have had elegant analogue, digital, and hybrid equipment for our personal use: EAT 580 and Ambilog 2000. We are convinced that computing elements built into the environment in a decentralized way with ad hoc geographic centralization is necessary for creating ecologies that are livable. 

Man's brain may be in his head, but his computing power is disseminated—his hands compute as they engage in dialogue with other hands. This is not meant as a philosophical statement; it is simply practical to have self-organizing loops intertwine with embodiment materials (plastic in the case of android material; hydrocarbon tissue in the case of living material). Information does not exist separate from its embodiment. And this simplifies ecologies for embodiments—one hand is constrained by its structural relations to be far simpler than any mathematical model that generalized all its possibilities.

Our attempts to enhance the interface of large computers indicate that this is a worthwhile direction of exploration but denies the basic problem of distributed intelligence in artificial organisms—the kind of tools and toys we wish to build.

2. We have found that networks of self-referent loops, interconnected by being sensitive to their environments, each being in some measure an environment to the other, provide us with manageable complexity. Each loop manages itself and yet is responsive to the others that it senses directly or indirectly in its environment. There tends to be, with enough loops built, a dropping out of those behaviors of the complex that do not continue to set off behaviors in their context that retrigger them. This self-organizing simplification allows the human, as another environment, to pin in the ecology of organic behaviors that his behavior is now surrounded by. The English language makes such recursive statements sound poetic. They are, but they are also better recipes for action while groping the relational world than the recipes that come much later when a person wants one particular kind of response rather than a response which grows his skill at finding effects which are simple to obtain, useful to his purpose, and which he did not know he was trying to obtain. We have constructed one system of 5 interconnected loops that worked enough for us to know that multiloop phenomena is a part of the ecological language.

3. We have found that multiple levels of constraint on ecological behavior are natural for its survival over time. These constraints tend to be similar for a more densely interconnected or simply ecologically dense part of a system. This dense area is often called a 'thing' since it may tend to operate as a unit. It is a clump or node of density in a network of behaviors. The language of clumps or nodes in a network simplifies behavior- again because the clump, by its persistence as a clump or node, has had to disarm behavioral nodes that would disrupt its persistence (or it would not persist), at the same time. Instability has to remain to allow noise, that which had no meaning, to evolve its meaning and so provide the organism, node, etc., with a means of surviving changes which it would previously have been unable to respond to except by non-synergistic losses. The node evolves. Man's best way to understand this kind of evolution is to build an artificial ecology to play in.

4. We have learned that it is possible to create new ecological tools and toys cheaply – the cost is in breaking out of the old think; our experience leads us to believe that the best way for us to do our thing is to begin to provide the many with ecological tools and toys as this media communicates and can form new communication far faster than our old media - the passive TV, picture movies, audio-visual, etc. The old media would be used to help constrain the new one.

The communicouch or communichair or telegrasp we have found feasible, for example, gets us directly into the purposeful use of touch communication - local and personal involvement with making, creating, and using avoids the unecological uniformity of centralized control of "the feelies" as in 'Brave New World'. Ecological power must rest with the local user. He must then be a creator.

5. Those who, like ourselves, see the ecological perspective from the backgrowing of cybernetics know that the new thrust has rapid and simple application to many contexts. The problem is not technical in the sense of expense of components, etc. It is finding the critical mass of people willing and capable to explore the territory and able to enjoy the personal wealth it will give them. These people will initially have to put up with alienation from the old think as a part of the adoption of the new. Reorientation does take more time for those who are not involved directly with creating and finding the new network.

6. Decision-making in these systems is at least of two varieties: one is the groping at inductive decision mentioned above, the other is abductive choice at a point where no more groping is possible and one node or another of a set of exigency behaviors goes into operation. Good communication allows rapid updating of the behavior within the nodes though the node decision may be simple. The node with the most information about the threat of loss for new energy or the advantage of gaining new energy or information had best be enabled to rapidly make decisions that commit the whole organism (network). This means that in the network there must be loops of different time grain so that long-term behaviors tend to use what were errors in the shorter-term structure to balance other errors and in fact creates a new direction which uses what were errors as advantages. This kind of thinking grows then one is aware of the stabilization that can occur as variety rather than sameness is amplified.

7. Turning on young people to the new potentials for creating ways of turning on their potentials, etc., is not a difficult pursuit. What is astonishing is the hunger for this experience provided it is done beautifully and in a way that everyone is involved together rather than as audience or students. The creation of easily accessed tools and toys for use by kids in turning each other on is important now! The seed is already planted; we must make way for the bloom. BLOOM! AMEN.