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should all permaculture stuff be for free?  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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I often hear people complain about information that is not free. They say it should be free. In every case I have heard this from people that currently offer nothing for free. Not even a lousy blog.

I think it is okay to want things. Want away. While you're at it, want for world peace, to win the lottery and want for a lovely piece of pie. Wanting is good.

The trouble comes from expecting. Which leads to demanding. And if you demand that somebody do as you want, which is contrary to what they want, isn't that unpaid work? Slavery?

I see a lot of terrible and unethical behavior done in the name of decency and ethics. This whole thing about shaming people into slavery is one of them.

Rather than saying "I think that book/dvd/workshop should be free" I think the correct message should be "I have created that too and I am giving it away for free."

 
paul wheaton
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People go to stores and browse. They look at the things on the shelves. Most stores carry no free items. So if you want to introduce permaculture via this technique, it has to be with something for which there is a price.

And this is just one strategy out of thousands.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I don't think all permaculture stuff should be for free, because I want people to be able to make a living doing permaculture stuff. I like being paid for my work (not permaculture) and think people should be able to get paid for permaculture work (it's better than my work). It costs money (often quite a lot for professional quality) to produce films, DVDs, books, etc. I would not expect people to do this for free. That there is so much available for free is amazing to me, astonishing. More than a lifetime of learning and applying, I think, is available for free. So I am also amazed and astonished that some people demand that not only this tonnage of stuff be free, but everything related to permaculture should be free. It's hard for me to imagine they've already learned and applied all the free stuff out there. But they want more, apparently.

Is it ok to get paid to do evil (many of our non-permaculture jobs are destructive), but not ok to be paid to do good?

I don't get it.....
 
Robert Ray
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I have a lot of tools, if there was a twelve step program for people with tools my wife would make me go. BUt sometimes people want to borrow my tools or me with my tools to do something I don't mind helping but at some point time, knowledge effort and tools becomes a commodity that has value.
 
Fred Morgan
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Is it ok to get paid to do evil (many of our non-permaculture jobs are destructive), but not ok to be paid to do good?

I don't get it.....


Totally agree, what the world needs is people showing that you can actually not destroy the plant, without dying in the process from starvation. That means we actually have to make this pay for itself.
 
Matt Smith
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There is a world of grey area between "free" and "opportunistic greediness" It's not black and white.

I've spoken with a lot of people that got turned off to permaculture initially because many of the oft-referenced references are REALLY expensive compared to some other books/reference materials. I've had to explain to people that it isn't just a new trendy hobby for rich people.

I think that says something.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The major textbook of permaculture, the Designers Manual, costs as much as a textbook. I don't find that surprising, considering it is quite heavy and of good quality. It is by no means necessary to purchase it in order to learn about permaculture.

I'm not seeing the expensiveness, personally. "gaia's garden" can be had for less than $20.
 
paul wheaton
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And there is always the library - where all of this stuff is available for free.
 
Fred Morgan
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To me permaculture is applying to basic things a system that will last forever, with limited external inputs. I am trying to show that permaculture can make forestry affordable (most people have no idea how expensive a plantation is, till they do it). Current activity, goats as brush suppression. Come to find out, they don't like wood trees, generally, they like the weed trees. Also, if you keep enough chopped, they don't rip the bark off trees, and boy do they produce more milk! It is logical why they don't like the best of wood trees by the way, since the best wood resist insects, and so is bitter, toxic, etc. Whereas your fruit trees.... are like candy.

Brush suppression is an important thing in forestry, since too much brush can make it hard to harvest, as well as be a fire risk.

Now, we would all love to have jobs that were based on permaculture (well, perhaps) but how about apply permaculture to our jobs? It seems that the over all culture of much of the developed world is based on exploitation, owners to workers, workers to owners, etc with the failed concept that if everyone is fighting for what is theirs, all with be okay (free market theory). Well, it will also result in a tragedy of the commons scenario, where a common resource (like land, water, resources) is rapidly used up, because everyone wants their piece of the pie, and few care that the pie isn't replacing itself.

Earning a living is a very important part of sustainability. Would one expect to take all the seeds away from a plant, so that it couldn't produce the next generation? Well, some do. Not compensating those who are doing the research means, no more research, since they will have to find other ways to pay for what they need.

Permaculture means it has to be a system that remains, and if people can't be compensated for their ideas, I predict that permaculture won't survive since it misses a critical component to life, providing for yourself. And when you come down to it, you need something for trade, and not everyone can trade food, or there will be no tools, for example

Nor will you be posting on forums.
 
Renate Howard
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It seems to me there are two kinds of people trying permaculture (and probably many in between). The ones with PLENTY of money who can buy or rent or hire tractors, etc. to make all the swales, ponds, etc. they want, plow fields to get rid of grass to plant orchards, put in expensive fencing, pay $30 each (and up) for each tree in a food forest... and those who have always lived on a shoestring budget - hand to mouth. Who may agonize over small choices of spending money for better quality versus getting the cheap one they feel they can afford. It seems to me the ones trying harder to live a homesteading lifestyle, who have given up careers and the incomes that come with them to try to go back to the land may really NEED resources for free or at least very inexpensive, because they may not have a lot of resources, so buying a $200 book is a tough decision, because it may mean putting off fixing that hole in the roof.

I'm not against people getting paid for the work they do, and I'd personally love to see those shoestring budget folks be able to earn a living, especially, teaching others what they've gained from hard-won experience. Seems now there's an over-abundance of "information" selling the "dream" with very little practical information but lots of pretty pictures and utopian promises - marketing to those with plenty of money, and those with little to spend have to carefully weed through the information for the ones that are enough quality to be worth the cost.

For me, I've determined that the really good information often does give a lot away for free - if they have a wonderful idea or whatever they'll tell you about it, and you can buy the book/dvd/video if you like what you've seen and want the full information or a good reference that's handy to refer back to. If they offer NOTHING for free, just lots of promises ("buy this book and it will tell you how to grow 100 lbs of food per square yard") then it smacks of scam and I stay far away.
 
paul wheaton
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The ones with plenty of money buy the books, the DVDs and fancy tools.

The ones with little to no money, check the books and DVDs out from the library. Some places now have tool libraries. And some people make do with tools that are just as good as the fancy tools.

I guess I am trying to see where there is a problem that needs to be solved, but it seems to me like things are right as rain in this space.
 
Fred Morgan
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There is a lot good with this space, Paul. Thanks for the time, and aggravation, that goes into to do such a thing.

Though we have money, what I often lack is time... especially since I do have to travel for business at times. So I have a partner for my goats. He milks them every morning, I get 5 days of milk, he gets 2. I provide the feed, the areas to eat, medicine, goats, etc. He provides labor. Goat milk in our neck of the jungle goes for 5 dollars a liter. I figure he gets about 40 dollars a week for 15 minutes a day.

And I get fresh milk for doing very little. ROI on a goat for me is about 2 to 3 months.

What's not to like? Now I am starting to do the same with chickens with him. We are raising chickens together, he takes care of the feeding, water, cleaning the area (almost no work) - and butchers 10 every two weeks for us, keeping one for his labor. Since the goats and chickens will be in the same space, the time for him is probably 5 minutes a day, if that for a chicken every two weeks, and the backs and soup bones too!

He also does the butchering of a steer for me. Again, I get what I want, he gets more than enough to make it worth his while.

All this is good, but I would be more than a bit irritable with someone who wanted me to do it all, and then give them some, because I have more than I need... >
 
Julia Winter
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Fred, you've got a good thing going, there. I'm glad you've found someone who has what you need (time, and skills) and you can offer him a good return on those things.

I spent my 20's and 30's in grad school, and medical school, and residency, and lower paying jobs that took up lots and lots of time. I gardened and composted throughout those years, but didn't own any land until my mid-30's. Now I am one of those people who could spend $200 on a book (although I have not yet done this). A strategy that can work well is when those with time, energy (and hopefully skills) pair up with those who have more resources and less time to get things done. A few years ago my husband and I were looking to get out of the stock market and buy something "real" with our IRA money. (This is a massive legal/technical thicket, BTW.) We looked at farms in northern Wisconsin, and I reached out to SARES trying to locate some folks who could offer their time, labor and skills in exchange for a chance to occupy/use/improve land, but it's so hard to do. The potential for getting majorly burned is huge, especially at a distance. We ended up buying a house divided into two apartments not far from where we live. As we expected, it's not particularly making money for us (it's an old house with repairs needed frequently) but it is holding its value and paying for itself. Thus, we won't be buying a farm anytime soon, not unless we have some impressive change in our fortunes.

Still, I am hoping that someday I will be able to join forces with like minded individuals to improve a large piece of land. Communities like this are one way to locate such individuals. Real life gatherings are another.
 
Phil Hawkins
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I'm also from the $200 book club, however I have found that most of the information in these books is also available for free on the Internet. I think if someone listened to every show jack spirko has done on permaculture (he is particularly good at making those first steps sound simple and achievable), and then listened to every episode of Paul's podcast (which he points out, is aiming at a raising people to a higher standard on the eco scale), and then watched all the videos Paul has made, they would have an extremely comprehensive understanding of permaculture.

I choose to buy permaculture 'products' (such as books and DVDs, and hopefully in time, a PDC) in order to support those people that are doing the research that leads to the commonly available 'free' information. If I don't buy geoff lawton's Soils DVD, how is he going to have the time to develop the next level of understanding of soil science?

Where I am at is, armed with all this theory, I now need to find the time to apply it! I am a busy 'professional' with a young family, and a bunch of non-permaculture non-work non-family obligations also compete for my time and attention.

It seems to me that some of the people who are of fewer financial means (students, unemployed, underemployed, and retired) would have more time to practice their 'free' knowledge, and contribute back with lessons learned rather than financial dividends.
 
paul wheaton
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Here is another thought that just popped into my head: for those people that want non-free things to be free - have you first consumed all of the free information that is available? At this moment, I have nearly 200 podcasts, 160 videos, a dozen articles, dozens of blog entries and thousands of threads that are free.
 
Robert Ray
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Everything for free just boggles my mind where does it end? Should a place at my table be free? Should my house be open to others? Property that I have improved should you be allowed to take my gardening efforts for free? Some of it? All of it? Excuse the term but it's a mind rape.
 
Rion Mather
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It does send mixed messages when you are promoting community and changing the world through a price. I'm not sure why there is an interest to charge in the first place since almost everything that is on here can be found through the internet, especially youtube. You may not want to share your knowledge but it is already out there.
 
paul wheaton
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Rion Mather wrote:It does send mixed messages when you are promoting community and changing the world through a price.


Who is doing that?

 
Judith Browning
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paul wheaton wrote:Here is another thought that just popped into my head: for those people that want non-free things to be free - have you first consumed all of the free information that is available? At this moment, I have nearly 200 podcasts, 160 videos, a dozen articles, dozens of blog entries and thousands of threads that are free.


I don't expect non-free things to be free. And I don't see how I could ever get through all of the free stuff out there so I glean what I have time for from this site. I like having choices. When I teach weaving sometimes it's for free, sometimes for trade and sometimes for what I think of as a lot of money but I want to have the freedom to offer any one of those options for reasons of my own...and others can choose whether to accept my terms or not. It should be that simple but of course it never is.
 
Matt Smith
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paul wheaton wrote:Here is another thought that just popped into my head: for those people that want non-free things to be free - have you first consumed all of the free information that is available? At this moment, I have nearly 200 podcasts, 160 videos, a dozen articles, dozens of blog entries and thousands of threads that are free.


I don't think anyone is expressing the belief that all permaculture information is somehow locked behind a paywall. Obviously quite a bit of information is available for free. But your above statement appears to imply that all information is equal regardless of format, accessibility, or organization, and this is simply not the case.

Firstly: Access to a concise, well-organized and tested reference volume is very much different from the ability to dig through thousands of conversations between individuals (which may or may not stay on topic and whose knowledge or opinions in many cases may be misinformed, biased or unreliable). I know this firsthand because I'm currently in the process of assembling a permaculture manual of sorts whose content is specific to my area, and I have spent countless hours sifting through forum posts (amongst other sources) to glean the frequently small gems of relevant and accurate information. I am doing this precisely so that I will be able to share this specialized information with others (for free) in a format that will not require them expending the same time and effort I am putting in (because 99 out of 100 people would/could not).

Secondly: All of the above-mentioned free information, whilst very accessible and helpful to me (who has full-time access to a computer with a dedicated internet connection, the electricity to power it, and the time to access it) may not be as helpful to someone without those things. In the small town I live in many people do not have a computer, and of those that do many don't have the internet. The internet is available at the library, but many of these people are working class folks with very demanding jobs (sometimes more than one), families, and little free time... so even if they do have limited access to the web, they may not have the option to utilize it for the purposes we're discussing. And that's here in America where we're living high on the hog (I wonder how caught up the poor farmers in Haiti or Afghanistan are on their podcasts?)

Thirdly: There's the issue of common credibility. I can teach myself any number of skills utilizing freely available resources (and have), but in our current society there are precious few pathways between independently acquired ability and widely accepted accreditation for same. I could teach myself electrical engineering perfectly well, but getting a job in that field without the "official" credentials would still be nearly impossible. Attending a permaculture design certification course usually requires $500 (or more) and a week of free time. Most people can't swing that. I am absolutely sure you could find that same information for free, but your options for greater application of that knowledge are at that point somewhat limited. As far as most people are concerned you would essentially be an Internet Expert, and these days that's a title just about everybody's got.

The question at the bottom of this, as far as I can see, is a simple one: What is the point of permaculture?

If permaculture is a revolutionary system of reorganizing the interactions between man and nature in a way that benefits all, and has the potential to be a game-changer for the sustainability of human life and society, then let's treat it that way. We're not talking about hockey tickets or potatoes here, folks. This sh*t could literally change the world. Let's not degrade it into some cheap commodity and find a way to leverage it to make a few bucks, and in doing so insure that it is only capable of reaching .1% of the population. We can do that (and have) with just about everything else in our society, and the results speak for themselves.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to a seed swap I'm hosting, at which I will be giving away hundreds of dollars worth of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds and hopefully disseminating as much useful information on how to utilize them as possible.





 
Matt Smith
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Robert Ray wrote: Everything for free just boggles my mind where does it end? Should a place at my table be free? Should my house be open to others? Property that I have improved should you be allowed to take my gardening efforts for free? Some of it? All of it? Excuse the term but it's a mind rape.


Information is not equal to property, because information is intangible and can be multiplied indefinitely without loss. Physical objects cannot. Quite simple.
 
paul wheaton
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toby hemenway gave some information out for free. Then he put an information gob together in such a way that it saves people a lot of time to consume the one gob rather than go get the same information piecemeal. He traveled far and wide. He spent years researching and working on condensing the message. He paid thousands of dollars to make the whole project happen. He decided that this work would not be the only information, but a convenience. He picked a price. People that thought the price was worth it, paid it. That price is worth them having to go look it all up somewhere else.

Of course, people that don't have that kind of money can get it for free at the library.

And there are lots of other people/organizations that Toby has given the book to for free because he thought it was important.

Let's not degrade it into some cheap commodity and find a way to leverage it to make a few bucks, and in doing so insure that it is only capable of reaching .1% of the population.


Where is that happening?

 
Robert Ray
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I don't pay a doctor because he has anything more tangible than knowledge.
I don't pay a lawyer for anything more tangible than knowledge.
Lawyers do Pro Bono work and that is free knowledge that they distribute.
How much dough for a piece of paper with a degree on, it wasn't free for my wall hanger. Teachers get compensated for distributing knowledge.
Quite simple
 
Matt Smith
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Robert Ray wrote: I don't pay a doctor because he has anything more tangible than knowledge.
I don't pay a lawyer for anything more tangible than knowledge.
Lawyers do Pro Bono work and that is free knowledge that they distribute.
How much dough for a piece of paper with a degree on It wasn't free for wall hanger, Teachers get compensated for distributing knowledge.
Quite simple


While doctors and lawyers and teachers certainly have much knowledge, they are compensated for their time expended... which, like physical objects, is finite and cannot be multiplied. Time and information often interact, but they are not the same thing.

If you find a lawyer that is only willing to charge you by the idea, then I'd say you should hang onto them. If all my college professors were only paid based on the amount of information they actually disseminated, my college experience would have been much cheaper.
 
Robert Ray
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An artist performing the same song that was performed at another venue should only be compensated for one performance?
It's definitely not my payiing for a doctor's time, I'm definitely paying for his knowledge, same with a lawyer. A teacher might use the same syllabus each semester but it's the ability to have that information stick to the student.
 
Judith Browning
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Since most of us are living in a cash economy even though our ideal might be otherwise, I don't see how anyone could expect all Permaculture information for free. How are those doing research supposed to support themselves, travel to speak, pay for whatever it takes to run a web site and on and on. I am really low income and even I don't see this work happening without some kind of cash flow.
I would hate to see a wonderful idea get sidetracked over a money debate . I can't buy books and things but I don't have a problem with them being sold. I try to get our library to find books I want.
Sometimes I feel impatient with all of the talk and information and I am glad my exit back to the land happened without the aid of the computer age.
 
Phil Hawkins
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The plough also changed the world, and they were never available for free. Also, I think a PDC-as-a-certification is only valuable in a modern first world economy. To stretch the electrical engineering comment a little, take a look at things like electrical systems in the third world - if you can wire up some outlets and not kill yourself, people aren't looking for your electricians licence.

Similarly if you said "Here's a carrot, eat it" or "Here's how to grow carrots", very few people that *need* that information or produce are going to care whether you are 'certified' to be telling or giving it to them.
 
John Ram
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Matt Smith wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:Here is another thought that just popped into my head: for those people that want non-free things to be free - have you first consumed all of the free information that is available? At this moment, I have nearly 200 podcasts, 160 videos, a dozen articles, dozens of blog entries and thousands of threads that are free.


I don't think anyone is expressing the belief that all permaculture information is somehow locked behind a paywall. Obviously quite a bit of information is available for free. But your above statement appears to imply that all information is equal regardless of format, accessibility, or organization, and this is simply not the case.

Firstly: Access to a concise, well-organized and tested reference volume is very much different from the ability to dig through thousands of conversations between individuals (which may or may not stay on topic and whose knowledge or opinions in many cases may be misinformed, biased or unreliable). I know this firsthand because I'm currently in the process of assembling a permaculture manual of sorts whose content is specific to my area, and I have spent countless hours sifting through forum posts (amongst other sources) to glean the frequently small gems of relevant and accurate information. I am doing this precisely so that I will be able to share this specialized information with others (for free) in a format that will not require them expending the same time and effort I am putting in (because 99 out of 100 people would/could not).

Secondly: All of the above-mentioned free information, whilst very accessible and helpful to me (who has full-time access to a computer with a dedicated internet connection, the electricity to power it, and the time to access it) may not be as helpful to someone without those things. In the small town I live in many people do not have a computer, and of those that do many don't have the internet. The internet is available at the library, but many of these people are working class folks with very demanding jobs (sometimes more than one), families, and little free time... so even if they do have limited access to the web, they may not have the option to utilize it for the purposes we're discussing. And that's here in America where we're living high on the hog (I wonder how caught up the poor farmers in Haiti or Afghanistan are on their podcasts?)

Thirdly: There's the issue of common credibility. I can teach myself any number of skills utilizing freely available resources (and have), but in our current society there are precious few pathways between independently acquired ability and widely accepted accreditation for same. I could teach myself electrical engineering perfectly well, but getting a job in that field without the "official" credentials would still be nearly impossible. Attending a permaculture design certification course usually requires $500 (or more) and a week of free time. Most people can't swing that. I am absolutely sure you could find that same information for free, but your options for greater application of that knowledge are at that point somewhat limited. As far as most people are concerned you would essentially be an Internet Expert, and these days that's a title just about everybody's got.

The question at the bottom of this, as far as I can see, is a simple one: What is the point of permaculture?

If permaculture is a revolutionary system of reorganizing the interactions between man and nature in a way that benefits all, and has the potential to be a game-changer for the sustainability of human life and society, then let's treat it that way. We're not talking about hockey tickets or potatoes here, folks. This sh*t could literally change the world. Let's not degrade it into some cheap commodity and find a way to leverage it to make a few bucks, and in doing so insure that it is only capable of reaching .1% of the population. We can do that (and have) with just about everything else in our society, and the results speak for themselves.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to a seed swap I'm hosting, at which I will be giving away hundreds of dollars worth of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds and hopefully disseminating as much useful information on how to utilize them as possible.



Well that kinda sums it all up. I would only add one point: people who sell are clearly biased by their commercial position and to discuss this with them might be counterproductive in the sense that it may only aggravate them further... but i like your perspective, very much like my own.

 
paul wheaton
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people who sell are clearly biased by their commercial position and to discuss this with them might be counterproductive in the sense that it may only aggravate them further...


About three months ago, I gave everything away for free. And now I have started to sell some stuff.

So I guess that discussing this issue with me might be counterproductive?

You are suggesting this while using my site for free.

At the same time, I give away more information about permaculture than all other permaculture people combined. But your statement suggests that discussion this topic with me would be counterproductive.

I think my voice should not be so casually dismissed in this discussion.

 
John Polk
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Let's compare permaculture knowledge to music.

Almost any current song is available for free on the radio.
However, if you want your own personal copy of that song, so you can listen to it whenever or wherever you want, you will need to buy the CD.

If millions like a certain artist or group, shouldn't they give free concerts?

Gospel music is certainly intended to send a message to the audience. Why isn't it free?

The only people I have heard promoting the "Fair Share" message are people who do not have a food forest, and probably will never create one.

 
paul wheaton
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Perhaps if we are going to discuss limiting the conversation, we should limit the conversation to only those people that are in the top 100 producers of free permaculture content.

I am concerned that John could be right: the issue of what should be free seems to be something most often brought up by those that want free things - not by those that generate useful content.
 
laura sharpe
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It seems to me you are all preaching to the choir.

I do not know for sure all you charge for but if your intention is to spread the word putting roadblocks in the way doesnt seem to be the right thing to do.

When I first looked up rocket mass heaters, i was also looking up masonary heaters and other thing, I ran into your websight ( all of which have advertisements on them) and i looked around but to tell the truth, i was completely turned off when i saw that they were selling pdfs for 20 to 35 american dollars....pdfs! I bought a book for $15 dollars, I was completely moved away from anything to do with this sight. I am sorry but that is too much for an adobe file. You dont even need a stamp to mail that stuff. It took quite a bit more time for me to come back too.

I have no troubles with charges for workshops, i would not have had trouble at all if the charge for the pdf file was 5 or ten dollars but to me, these people did nothing original.

I do not mind you being paid, I know your idol charges for everything from the tour to the lecture. He does not charge for the idea though, he charges for his time. Offer donations, offer to sell things but be reasonable about it all.

Oh dont tell me to look at the rock star, they are over paid, movie stars too...but they are not trying to start a revolution. Sometimes you put your back where your mouth is.
 
Matt Smith
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Robert Ray wrote: An Artist performing the same song that was performed at another venue should only be compensated for one operformance?


Nope. Didn't say or imply anything of the sort.

That again would be an example of being compensated for time, not information. My concert ticket costs the same amount, regardless of the setlist that night.
 
John Ram
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paul wheaton wrote:
people who sell are clearly biased by their commercial position and to discuss this with them might be counterproductive in the sense that it may only aggravate them further...


About three months ago, I gave everything away for free. And now I have started to sell some stuff.

So I guess that discussing this issue with me might be counterproductive?

You are suggesting this while using my site for free.

At the same time, I give away more information about permaculture than all other permaculture people combined. But your statement suggests that discussion this topic with me would be counterproductive.

I think my voice should not be so casually dismissed in this discussion.



Sorry for my delay replying but i had to give some attention to my family.

I think you got it the wrong way Paul.

I am a moderator in a forum, as such i have had a fair share of pointless debates. That was where i was aiming.
I'm a believer in dialog as the base for any relationship, the more, the merrier. But when two people share their views of a problem they can surely do it without accepting the other's arguments, in some cases without listening to the other and more even when they are justifying their options(even to themselves).(not talking about you, will get back to that)
In my experience when people mix belief/conviction/hobby with money, it all goes sour. Sooner or later. Want a good example? Free software with mixed philosophy: one paid product and other version that is free...

That is why i don't mix them. That is why i create strong connections with people that share that insight. Somewhere along the way there is a compromise, a compromise between community/share and profit. That is why i keep a healthy distance from projects with people who do mix them, so that i don't accidentally get caught in the middle of one of those compromises.

Do i force anyone to do it like me? nop. And i do have some good friends that take that other path. And who knows, maybe some day i'll wake up in the morning and realise that to survive i will have to go down that road(hope not).

I do buy(isn't as usual as it used to be as life's a bit harder around here) good books, music and videos, but also when i look at a price tag and get the notion that i'm not being robbed. There are some obscene examples out there... Nevertheless i do buy them precisely to support the work that i enjoy.

As a sidenote, i have been working with several ONG's and other less formal institutions and communities for the past 20 years doing all kinds of pro bono stuff, from producing contents online, to teaching orfans and poor kids, from IT to electronics, math, physics, even done construction work, etc. For years i hosted the services for the local(nacional) Debian team in a dedicated server on my datacenter... for free.

About your site, i read richsoil.org a couple of times, great contents there, loved your articles, truly. Some of them where quite original and thorough(like the chickens one for instance). A great contribution to spreading permaculture. On the other hand i allways looked at permies.com as a community site, but looking deeper at the bottom i now see that i was probably wrong about that. Can guarantee you that i will be hanging around while you keep it free.

So you gave everything for free? kudos to you Paul, that's the spirit! Then you started to charge for some stuff? Well, i'm sure you had your motives... not gonna tap you in the back for that one though, lol.

So as you should have realised by now, it's not about your voice Paul, it's about the path that each one of us treaded and the place we wanna get to, through the way we picked. Each of us will hold his ground. So like i said... pointless discussion, just wasting energy... but really loved Matt's post because i think he went to the core of it:

Matt Smith wrote:The question at the bottom of this, as far as I can see, is a simple one: What is the point of permaculture?

If permaculture is a revolutionary system of reorganizing the interactions between man and nature in a way that benefits all, and has the potential to be a game-changer for the sustainability of human life and society, then let's treat it that way. We're not talking about hockey tickets or potatoes here, folks. This sh*t could literally change the world. Let's not degrade it into some cheap commodity and find a way to leverage it to make a few bucks, and in doing so insure that it is only capable of reaching .1% of the population. We can do that (and have) with just about everything else in our society, and the results speak for themselves.


And to me, it's pretty clear why knowledge should be freely shared and free and universal access to it granted and cherished by all and to all. Knowledge is enlightnment, it free's peoples minds and empowers them to change the face of the earth, we're not talking about potatoes and hockey tickets...
 
paul wheaton
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That is why i don't mix them. That is why i create strong connections with people that share that insight. Somewhere along the way there is a compromise, a compromise between community/share and profit. That is why i keep a healthy distance from projects with people who do mix them, so that i don't accidentally get caught in the middle of one of those compromises.


So you will be leaving permies.

What an odd thing. I charge money for a few podcasts and you have to leave because it is a violation of your standards.

Oh well. Toodles!

 
paul wheaton
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laura sharpe wrote:
I do not know for sure all you charge for but if your intention is to spread the word putting roadblocks in the way doesnt seem to be the right thing to do.


And, at the same time, it seems that I am much better at this than you. So it seems that my strategy must be working amazingly well. A bit of ipso facto?

And Mollison sells his book.

Toby Hemenway sells his book.

Geoff Lawton has a collection of DVDs.

sepp holzer has books and DVDs.

Seems like it is working super fantastic while being the opposite of your philosophy.



 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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I don't mean for this to sound preachy, i'm writing to myself...these are the set of principles i'd like to try to hold myself to in this area

Value

If you are going to charge a fee for stuff, go for it, but provide people with Value. Save them time, save them money, help them be more successful in their endeavors. Maybe you are a great teacher, maybe you've spent a lot of time consolidating information in a handy book, maybe you've got a wealth of helpful experience, or have drawn up plans of something really useful. That's all worth something, and you need to make a living. People who want to, can choose to pay for the special help you can provide them.

Gatekeepers

Don't Be a Gatekeeper. Don't entrench yourself in a knowledge hierarchy. Don't trade in exclusivity to keep people down. Don't set up guilds. Don't bar people from knowledge if they don't climb the ladder of your little system. In other words, don't act like a university, a trade organization, a union, government bureaucracy or corporation.

Don't act like letters and certificates are essential, or make people feel like they need them in order to progress on their own paths.
And people, don't ever believe that you need an institution's blessing or certificate to start practicing and living permaculture.

Permaculture didn't come out of thin air...it's a synthesis of all kinds of human knowledge fields, from ecology and soil science to botany and any number of ancient farming and gardening traditions. The knowledge itself is part of our human heritage and no particular institution or individual should be claiming any kind of exclusive right to it. It is a human life-way.

be nice and Give Back

There are people out there who are motivated to teach and distribute info for free...be tolerant of them, they have an important role to play. If you are providing value you will still have your clients.

There are people who can't afford to pay to learn. Lots of them. Most of the world. It doesn't make them lazy or selfish. Don't be angry if they don't want to buy your stuff, they don't have to.

If you're going to make money (or a living at least) through promoting permaculture, make sure you also give back. Permaculture is the result of a lot of people's work and effort...stretching back generations before the ideas were synthesized and the name coined. They paid it forward to you, you should step up to the plate and give freely to posterity and those in need. Do some free workshops, do a school talk, mentor someone...it will feel good and make your life meaningful in ways the bucks won't.
 
paul wheaton
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I think it is critically important to respect the wishes of the creator. If the creator wants it to be free, that's great. If the creator wants to sell it for a million dollars and you don't want to pay a million dollars, then move on with your life without it.

If the price is too high, simply don't buy it.

Further, I think that those people that pirate stuff are in a war with big media. And I think we are getting close to seeing the end of the internet as we know it as a casualty of that war. And I fully blame the pirates.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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laura sharpe wrote:I

When I first looked up rocket mass heaters, i was also looking up masonary heaters and other thing, I ran into your websight ( all of which have advertisements on them) and i looked around but to tell the truth, i was completely turned off when i saw that they were selling pdfs for 20 to 35 american dollars....pdfs! I bought a book for $15 dollars, I was completely moved away from anything to do with this sight. I am sorry but that is too much for an adobe file. You dont even need a stamp to mail that stuff. It took quite a bit more time for me to come back too.



Laura, the PDF is exactly what I'm talking about when i say to provide something with Value. It's value isn't in the object, or the file...the value comes in that you can quickly and easily put together an RMH that's going to work without doing a bunch of research and experimenting. For someone who's got a million things on the go, that might well be worth 20 or 35 bucks. They don't have to wait for something in the mail, or read a whole book, or think about design. Their choice.

I bought the book, because I like books.

I could also have probably got enough of what i needed off the forums, but I didn't want to spend my time that way, so the book was value for me.
 
paul wheaton
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I think folks need to be the change they want to see. if they think that free rocket mass heater plans and books should be out there, then they need to create those plans and put them out.

I am freakishly pissed off at the idea that somebody would look at ernie and erica who gave everything away for free for years - and ernie's leg was smashed to hell (and fucked up for life) while giving away more of his time for free. And when they finally get around to selling a little bit, people want it for free.

I find this vulgar and disgusting.

And if we want to get into a pissing match where somebody says that they have given stuff away for free, therefore attempt to shame others into giving stuff away for free: bring it baby. I'm pretty sure I can out free anybody that comes by here. I've been giving away freeware for decades. I gave away free stuff on BBSs before the internet was popular. And then I gave away mountains of free stuff through two huge web sites. Hosting? I've hosted at least a dozen projects for free. Volunteering and teaching free classes - it might take me a moment to list them, but I bet I can come up with a hundred. So I win - and i say that when somebody gives something away for free, that's great. And if somebody charges money for it, then you choose if it is worth it. If it's not, then you don't touch it - that is respecting the choice of the creator. And if it seems like a topic needs more free stuff - then you can always create your own stuff and give it away for free.


 
Would you turn that thing down? I'm controlling a mind here! Look ... look at the tiny ad ...
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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