Brad Collins

is creating a foundation for building better possible futures for humanity




per month


GLINDA: Did you bring your broomstick with you?
DOROTHY: No, I'm afraid I didn't.
GLINDA: Well, then, you'll have to walk.
— The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Our road began in 1998 in Osaka after reading about a newly minted project from the Long Now Foundation to build a mechanical clock which would be capable of running for 10,000 years without human intervention. The intent was to get people and organizations to foster long term thinking, planning and acting. The original plan was to include a library which would be housed together with the clock in a remote mountain. As soon as I read about this I was all in. I wanted to build that library. There has been some amazing work done in the last twenty years on building physical archives that will last thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years. The Memory of Mankind project (MOM) has  developed "ceramic microfilm" which encodes texts and images on ceramic tiles designed to survive a million years or more. What we were more interested in was how to capture and encode information in the library so that it could be understood thousands of years in the future. This is the difference between a library and an archive. A library preserves a body of works that are large enough to preserve enough context surrounding any one text so that they meaning of what is written can be understood. But more importantly it preserves enough information to keep that knowledge in living memory so that it can be used to sustainably operate a civilization over long periods of time, knowing that there will be setbacks where critical knowledge is lost and has to be reinvented again from scratch.

We made steady progress towards building a framework for encoding such a library which we called BMF (The Burr Metadata Framework). We presented our work at the Extreme Markup Conference in Montreal in 2006 and thought that we could then go on to start building libraries, and snapshots could be preserved by projects like MOM. But there were still so many unanswered questions about the other purpose of a library, as a means of keeping knowledge in living memory that kept popping up everywhere. It was clear that if we didn't answer those questions we would have failed.

The result of the work done to answer those questions is now part of The Yellow Brick Road (YBR). The project is made up two parts, descriptive and proscriptive. The descriptive is a series of books which will be published, starting next year and continue until the series is complete in 2030. The proscriptive will take the form of two ongoing projects, Doorstep and Plumbing. These will take ideas described in the books and put them into practice in the real world. Doorstep is physical, focusing on agriculture, buildings, tools, infrastructure and community planning. Plumbing will focus on knowledge and how it is organized, structured, stored and manipulated for use in education, governance, commerce, science and culture.

Our first publication is set to be released in March 2020 which will be a prolegomenon, a discursive outline of the the research, conclusions and projects and of its components.

The first work in the series, Churn: the fifty year window, is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
$233 of $2,500 per month
When we reach $2000 a month, we will hire three additional staff and begin earthworks during the dry season at the agricultural research station we are establishing in Tram Kok as part of Project Doorstep.
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