Paul Wildman: .

The Artifice of Ingenuity

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  • © Copyright Paul Wildman (
  • : 22/11/2005, : 01/09/2006. 16k. .
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    , Futures Bulletin ( 30 2-3, 2005). ""? (), ( ), , " ". . 6 2050 , . , , . , . . . .

  Paul Wildman
  In Australia there has always been the great outback full of bush (Australia is size of mainland US with 28m compared to 328m folk) and so understandably it has entered our national psyche. Here there is bush everything - bush music, bush tucker, bush lawyer, bush shops, bush doctors, bush mechanics, bush campfire (TV), bush cooking, bush humour, movies are made about it and tourists regularly die when they are lost in it and so forth. When one is living in this bush to get something done one has to think and act ahead using one's ingenuity and ome up with innovative practical solutions that work. Of particular interest for this report is - the bush mechanic - a particular breed of Australian who an arguably put the zing into futuring with her form of engaged and engaging futures research. This work in progress report uses Grounded Theory to identify several attributes of such an endangered breed.
  Conventionally a bushie is someone who can fix a practical problem with 'fencing wire' and do a great job to boot. he Australian Broadcasting series (see web site in resources) literally shows just that particularly in indigenous communities. A bush mechanic or artificer learner ma be defined for the purposes of this research project report as: someone who while being deeply and broadly technically skilled is reflexivel orientated and who ethically and participatively exlores the big picture and prioritises, chooses, designs and enacts forward wisely b creatively developing prototypes towards a world transformed.
  A bricoleur (French) is a 'Jack of all trades or a kind of tinkerer, a professional do-it-yourself person'. There are man kinds of bricoleurs - interpretive, narrative, theoretical, practical and political. he bricoleur produces a bricolage - that is, a pieced-together set of representations or components that are fitted to the specifics of a omlex situation, he closest English equivalent is tinkerer - usually used disparagingly.
  Over the past six years man discussions I have been involved in have sought to develop an answer to the question what would an ideal action oriented learning environment look like given one's praxis exerienes. As part of this process in the early 2000s the criteria for such a vibrant learning process were documented and explored (Wildman 2001).
  In man places in thee West,Slaughter's industrial flatland, still rules, there is not much cultural, industrial, vocational or even legal space left for alternatives to survive let alone such 'left field' people as bush mechanics. Nevertheless the more one loolc:ed the more it appeared that there were still some bush mechanics left (Thomson 1995).
  This approach is that of engaged knowing. This ma be termed futuring or 'acting ahead wisely' and is called in this study artificing commonly know as Bush Mechanicing. Here reality is established through enactment that is the braiding of thinking and doing. Certainly in terms of futuring this research project suggests that a bush mechanic approach ma be seen as one direct application.
  he method chosen to process the field observations of this project into general understanding of the key principles of being a Bush ehani is Grounded Theory (Glaser 1995; Dick 2888). Dick after Glaser suggests two key advantages of Grounded Theory for judging the adequacy of the emergent principle categories: do they fit the situation; and do they work. In this sense such emergent categories an hel the eole in the coalface situation make better sense of their exeriene and improve the management of the particular situation.
  Of critical importance is to e crystal clear about what most differentiates grounded theory from much other research is that it is emergent, bottom up from observations and exliitl so. Grounded Theory does not test a hypothesis. It sets out to find what theory accounts for the research situation as it is recorded in the field notes. In this respect it is like action research: the aim is to understand the research situation. The aim, as Glaser in particular states it, is to discover the theory implicit in the data.
  he following are the conclusions of the two year grounded theory project designed to elicit the key emergent properties of artificer learners more commonly called bush mechanics. he full grounded theory report details the methodology and procedures as well as presenting the actual journal entries, memos, initial categories and emergent grounded theory categories as they emerged. he attributes revolve around the grounded concept of the 'exemlar project' and hopefully an provide the basis of a new 'theory of bush mechanics'. as such the attributes point to a grounded form of vocational and citizen education that has all but faded from view in developed nations in the past 50 years.
   1: he Exemplar Proiect Principle
  Exemlar project - a best in class project/prototype that demonstrates a better world is possible for our children.
  For example a project that draws from the BM's learning ove a decade of praxis as in broad committed exeriene. his raxis has helped generate a grasp of the big picture while understanding the small picture from its components in detail, as well as how the subsystems interface. he exemplar project often occurs in the largely informal eonom. he project tends to be innovative rather than inventive, and combines business discipline, vocational exertise and social ontext, that braids thinking and doing; part and whole; individual and collective and is aimed at bettering the lot of our fellow human in line with the requirements of the global problematique.
   2: Social Holon Principle
  he exemlar project is seen b the bush mechanic as an examle of a social holon.
  he exemlar project although it ma manifest as a technological or organisational holon is actually seen b the BM as a social holon (Koestler 1978), as self organising nested system, which is simultaneously part and whole, hierarchically situated yet autonomous, using fixed rules et flexible strategies, such as the heart in the circulation system of our body. The Bush Mechanic is a Renaissance person and sees the exemplar project at essence not uniquely materialistic. Bush Mechanics tend to integrate life at the individual perspective with the collective.
  BMP 3: Collective Responsibility Principle
  Bush Mechanic as Global Citizen responding locally, proactively, concretely and collaboratively to the Global Problematique
  The Bush Mechanic or Artificer sees herself as a global citizen: local, concrete, participative, anticipative, and proactive with the above two attributes to global futures via the global problematique b blending Internal and external ethics (e.g., the redefinitlon of psychological markers such as inome, status, time and task, etc). The closest historlcal parallel to this type of combined vocational and consciousness raising that has emerged in Australia and the UK is, for instance, the Workers Education Association (WER). In this sense the bushie sees the exemlar project as a living prototypical response to the question "how then should we live together? - a portal to one aspect of a better world?"
  BMP 4: Learning Principles
  Learning, Yearning, Earning and Concerning from and with the above Principles
  This includes learning from and with the engagement/embodiment/action of establishing the exemplar project.
  A Bush Mechanic is someone who, over a period of years and with substantial effort, resources and commitment, and as part of their responsibility as world citizen, participative and anticipatively conceives designs, establishes and learns from an exemplar project to demonstrate today a better world for our children's children: in short, someone who acts ahead wisely.
  Futuring and the Bush Mechanic as a site for Dissent some arenas where Bushiness an be a site for dissent from and with today's world are:
  (1) in this hyper regulated world agency is regulated out of the system and the bush mechanic challenges this 'dumbing down' b using their agency and structural knowledge of the system to change it.
  (2) The engaged nature of the process insists that Interface matters and citizens have a right to have a say. he present structure of much interface is being removed b government fiat through Government regulations and corporatisation.
  (3) Action as locus of authenticity. Textualist an, b distancing itself, allow the performative dimension of discourse to dare to ut its own integrity at risk: in acting on the world in attempting to change it. Furthermore b acknowledging that success, as in a simple understanding of causation, will, in this dimension of authenticity will often be more omplex than with conventional text.
  (4) Bushiness is also about 'choosing, even acting, ahead wisely' engaged futures research, anticipatory action research, futuring or parakinesia in ancient Greek are all terms that have echoes in the bush mechanic of today. In modern English or ntemporary public: administration we have no such word that indicates a practical proactive wisdom through social innovatlon.
  The Artificer in the context of Longer Term Exteri Futures and Macro Economic Scenarios 2050
  Scenario 1: More of the Same - appy Nappy Valley angst
  Here the griding down of the mass of people into the flatland, the increasing destruction of the environment and desecration of Gaia continues aae. But such a path as the ne we are n with globalisation triumphant - bushies are acceptable however only for quaint interest for instance in the bushies hall of fame.
  Learning is exert, elitist, reductionist and pedagogical and generally unsuited to artificer learning. Bushies fit: Not needed, modern bureaucracies will do the trick - bushies seen as a danger to society.
  Probability: considering the state of the planet in 2005 a most unlikely scenario
  Scenario 2: ehn-utpia - Star Wars goes remote
  Here globalisation is also triumphant and has harnessed technological change to assist it. All is produced b technology that also makes most of the decisions i.e., sentient computers and orgoboids (human computer integration entities) (Wildman 2000).
  Scenario 2a Utopian - Star Wars goes remote;
  Scenario 2b Dystopian - Terminators wired in parallel
  Learning is largely unnecessary as sentient technology now does it for us - reality is just a computer game away.
  Bushies fit: Bushies don't fit into this scenario Probability: probable, consider the promise of globalisation in 1998 and now some 15 years n its downside is becoming obvious to the people et our 'leaders' persist.
  Scenario 3: Economic rebirth - the spiro hippies were right - the new Jerusalem
  Localism rekindled - this is the age of lal economics - bushies an thrive here. Wildman and Schwencke (2003)
  Learning is at the heart of community and is based n Adult and Community Learning Androgogy principles most host posltive t the bushie and artificer learning.
  Bushies fit: Bushies thrival - bushies into thriving survival here
  Probability: possible and desirable et most unlikely
  Scenario 4: ax Americana reigns - Attak of the lob
  he dream of the neocons for the 21st century to be Americans century wins through the struggles of Afghanistan and Iraq and so forth - corporate Ameria the American corpor'a'nation triumphs - the economic rationalist reductionist positivist version of globalisation has wn - bushies are hunted down and eliminated.
  Learning is something imrtant but for the enomic elite which is mainly white, male, 58+ and is about the continuing the classic pedagogical split between thinking (which they do) and doing (which we do)
  Bushies fit: Bushies and Artificer Learning do not fit it here.
  Probability: most unlikely
  Scenario 5: Crash and burn - the economic recursion into Soylent Green
  Here the crash of scenario 5 occurs but recovery is not possible esp. in the West which b 2050 is profoundly interdependent and et simultaneously dependent n cheap imports from the Confucian commonwealth of China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan -bushies (+) an just surviue here they find out they need a bushie network of mutual aid assistance as in the last great depression in 1929 Conventional learning here is largely irrelevant and considered dangerous in terms if its track record (massive failure), effectiveness and waste of resources, the informal bushie/artificer learning avenues start to multiply.
  Bushies fit: Bushies do reasonably well - bushy skills a necessity for surviual
  Probability: likely
  Scenario 6: Economic Pole Inversion - Planet of the Apes
  he new economic ie age - bushies an surviue here but tragically most folks wn't be able to survive as the first becomes third world and vice versa.
  Learning: Intensely difficult in an structured wa as survival comes to the fore.
  Bushies fit: bushies/artifice learning does well here though b necessity rather than choice -these are n happy times
  Probability: quite likely - the humanist version of Scenario 4
  bushies fit reasonably well into 3 of these 6 scenarios. Scenarto 6 is considered the most likely in the abve time period and all the abve scenarios need a 'displacement event' which, n current indications ma well be before 2050.
  Dick, B. (2000) Grounded Theory: a thumbnail sketch. Interchange.
  Glaser, Barney G. ed. (1995) Grounded theory 1984-1994,
  Uolume 1. Mill Ualley, a.: Sociology Press.
  Koestler, A. (1978) Janus - a summing up. New York: Vintage.
  tt, L. (1999) Forgotten Technology and Conversion Charts. Brisbane: Author printed b Watson Ferguson. 90.
  Thomson, . (1995) The Complete Blokes and Sheds; including stories from the shed. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  Wildman, . (2000) Life Futures: An Initial axnm of Terrestrial and Non-Terrestrial Forms of Life. Journal of Futures Studies. 4(2): . 93-188.
  Wildman, . (2001) 'Anticipating Emerging Issues: reflections from a futurist.' Journal of Futures Studies 6, 137-152.
  Wildman, . and Schwencke, . (2003) Your Community Learning -action learning clrcles for learning and earning through community economic development. Community Learning Initiatives and Prosperity Press: Brisbane. Multi Media CDrom.
  • © Copyright Paul Wildman (
  • : 22/11/2005, : 01/09/2006. 16k. .
  • :


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