BUS & UPLIFT – some thoughts triggered by emails

Alex & Fabio – thanks for the valuable feedback.  Almost everything you say I have thought of and some I have tried – although I may have used different terminology. I don’t code.  Others over the years have made similar suggestions. A while ago I devoted considerable time trying to use Project Design & Management Software. Long ago I had a few weeks of coding instruction – like given to grade school children.  My first major task with THE first IBM in the early 1980s was to tailor an online BBS, seminar, library integrated system I called PiCNiC for Pima College Networking Collage. This was on an $800 app called MIST+ (Microprocessor Information Support System) by P+T Johnson-Lenz, a version for the new DOS of the mainframe groupware program for EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System). A team somewhere in the East had been contracted by the US government to create a means for agencies to use the new technology. They quickly learned that no single app would suit anyone so they created a generative app that could be tailored to specific needs. In creating PiCNiC I did much “programming” using MIST+ as a “language”.

I had learned about MIST+ and hypertext (from Ted Nelson) on the same day. I devoted months creating a hypertext system on PiCNiC. It worked but it was too complex for others to use, even after I created an elaborate orientation, instruction, and help system.  I also integrated an online hyperlink system developed by Neil Larson (years before the WWW). With direct computer-computer linkage you could access files using a <path/filename> code.  This system was made available to everyone at the college but no one was interested. Our computer science dept was fighting the PC with a vengeance.  After a year’s heavy effort I learned that “Build it and they will come” doesn’t always work. After a number of similar lone effort to build first without deep involvement of potential users was futile.  OTOH is is very difficult to attract potential users for tasks they have not yet learned about and might value.  I called this second order marketing.

It is possible that a person with a set of competencies I lack could, on their own, get things started. I’ve tried and have learned from each “failure”.  It is obvious that there is something I MUST DO, to launch the uplift process – but it is not one of the things you suggest, what it is I am continuing to seek. One conclusion is that only a team can perform the first steps, so my first task must be to organize a first team. Many decades of failure on this effort. Part of me may be rationalizing, and some tell me simply to “develop willpower” (misinformed about the “nature of will”).

Please, none who read this should take it as criticism of your efforts to assist me. I deeply appreciate all that your are doing. It isn’t you or I causing difficulty, but the “nature” of the task, its large scope and challenging deep assumptions, makes it a challenge for all.

Let me address one of your suggestions: give persons some specific task to do, before they adequately comprehend the bigger picture, and have them learn during the process of doing.  This is exactly what BUS facilitates. But, this strategy doesn’t apply to what I must do now.  I have attempted this many times and have learned an important lesson.  No matter how detailed my instructions or specifications I discover that some seemingly trivial information was missing the the work performed was unusable and the process very frustrating for both the person volunteering and myself.  There appeared two alternatives and I have attempted both. One is to closely monitor the person’s work to catch when their work project deviates from the field of possibilities I need. The people who offer to help me are self starters and don’t like constant monitoring.  If the task I need performed is small enough I can do it alone easier and quicker than monitoring. To use this as a learning experience requires the settings for learning to be anticipated and involves even more of my time. I am willing to give the time if there is some promise of success (learning & working).  Given the great many smaller tasks needed to launch I can’t devote all that time to only a few.  The magnitude of the enterprise calls for a different strategy.

The other is to really attempt to provide the helper with enough background and details so they can work on their own.  That the tasks I need performed are in a paradigm shifting context, what is produced is often not useful.  This led me to the conclusion that  learning/organizing is the proper milieu, but not any type of “education” existing. Creating the scaffolding for our first learning/organizing effort brings back the need for tasks performed prior to launch, which returns us to the previous paradox.  Adding a process ontology to my existential ontology gave me insight to this issue, but no solution.  What will be will “emerge”, but a forward creation of scaffolding is required to give direction to the emergence, and the design/construction of scaffolding is “coding” (in your generalization) which will be useful only if done it the appropriate contexts.  Chicken/Egg?

My fall back behavior was to write more essays and attempt dialog on the issues. My hope was that there would be a threshold of engagement with my writings and with me that a few would cross threshold and join me in facing this paradox. That those to whom this message is addressed are giving me their time attests that it has partly worked.  Yet, something essential is yet missing.  Whenever I read a proposal I can generate more queries and questions than anyone wants to respond to.  I feel there are enough concrete aspects to my writing that I might get some pointed queries or questions.

One alternative I have attempted briefly was to compose queries of others. In the old teaching style called Programmed Learning, the learner is given questions with multiple choice answers.  The key is that information incidental to the actual question is embedded in the question statement – to be used as context for subsequent questions. As a technique it works, but it so utterly boring (the versions I have used teaching math in highschool). The questions are but formative assessment of prior learning, with feedback if you answer wrong.  At this point I don’t have the stamina to design such a system. And, there are so many gateways for learning about UPLIFT that I cannot compose script for all.  But, maybe for a “get started attractor”.


The Club of Rome identified one of humankind’s “difficulties” is latching onto a Problem/Solution paradigm, with it sister paradigm: Questions/Answers. Both atomize reality.  Both are very useful paradigms in many situations, but they have their limits when scope and complexity are large. A Problem Statement implies an existential ontology, which usually is appropriate for short term and local issues. A process ontology as described by Andrew Pickering in The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future  (April 15, 2010) is much more “fluid” – and Pickering came to his views as a historical researcher of hands-on science. I prefer a complementarity between process and existential ontologies (up to my vague comprehension of each).

“Problematique achieved systemic prominence in 1970 when Hasan Ozbekhan in the original proposal to the Club of Rome designated the 49 Continuous Critical Problems facing humankind <Ozbekhan, H. (1970). <The Predicament of Mankind: A Quest for Structured Responses to Growing World-Wide Complexities and Uncertainties. www.redesignresearch.com/docs/ThePredicamentofMankind.pdf NOT AVAILABLE.> He said that ‘We find it virtually impossible to view them as problems that exist in isolation – or as problems capable of being solved in their own terms… It is this generalized meta system of problems, which we call the ‘problematique’ that inheres in our situation.'” (Wikipedia).  IMO “problematiques” label aspects of a process ontology and we have difficulty resisting seeing them as a meta-problem.

UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis are “features” of our Humankind/Gaia problematique. They manifest as generative conceptual schemes which do contain problems seeking solution. They “exist” as an emergent body of semiotic structures, continually interacted with by persons and teams who both process the sems and create new sems.  We do need to solve problems, but many of our concerns are not problems, but process challenges for which there are no solutions.

BUS as Scaffolding

BUS, as scaffolding, contains both code and content sems.  Most apps I have experienced resulted from the great bulk of effort given to coding, and a small effort give to the text and words that appear on the screen to be viewed by users.  For BUS I image an “equal parity” – although I can’t imagine how to compare them as to relative importance – both are essential.  The initial coding for BUS1.0 must be designed for continuous improvement and diversification (variations). Users of BUS will participate in the changes in BUS, both coding and content sems. I expect that after UPLIFT gains momentum BUS may be coded again from basics, but by then there should be many competent teams to participate.

In my 2010 proposal I cited five different systems that would integrate within BUS, each requires coding and sem composing. Each must be configured somewhat differently from contemporary examples; both for the continuing improvement, diversification, and integration. What is produced for BUS1.0 will be vastly simplified from what is imagined for more mature BUS.

  •         social networking system,
  •         educational system,
  •         system for creating and managing organizations & projects, virtually and in realtime,
  •         database system,
  •         R&D system, to integrate Adaptive Management and Action Research into the emergence of BUS.

BUS would eventually provide for users:

  •         BUS will provide a vehicle for organizing-for-learning & learning-for-organizing.
  •         BUS is designed for iterative and generative improvement, expansion, and diversification.
  •         BUS is designed to rapidly and exponentially increase the population of users.
  •         BUS is designed to uplift the distribution of cognitive/performance competencies of human populations.
  •         Versions of BUS can be used by any human group or population.
  •         BUS offers an alternative to depressive trend projections from our Crisis-of-Crises.
  • BUS must seaf reesee the interactions of users as they relate to the emerging content accessed through BUS.
  • Early versions of BUS will be quite different from later versions, and will attempt to seaf only some of the processes imagined for a mature BUS ecology.
  • BUS is a concept with many different specific manifestations.  Each specific BUS is a software package (on disc, flashdrive, or by download) with recommended hardware, specific urls, and recommended protocols for use.  Each specific BUS is tailored by a team and seeded in pre-selected population.
  • What is created through BUS as scaffolding is a dynamic, viable, living sysnet of persons interacting with each other and sems, with their interactions recorded and integrated into the UPLIFT database and/or used as immediate feedback in process.
  • We need to start with some initial exploration of scenario emergence of generations of BUS and UPLIFT, and then focus on the creation of BUS1.0.


Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.