Spiral Dynamics integral – An Introduction

Spiral Dynamics is somewhat a system of Psychometric Profiling. Think of Myers Briggs or the OCEAN model mixed with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, but a whole order of magnitude more than that.

The core idea of the model is that people focus on certain aspects of life at different stages. At the higher stages they are usually in a higher order level with more complexity.

Whilst Spiral Dynamics is the work of Clare W Graves, Integral Theory is the work of Ken Wilber and SDi or Spiral Dynamics Integral is the merging of the two concepts.


  1. Survival (Beige) – Where all the attention is focused on survival.
  2. Tribal (Purple) – All about social relationships and maintenance of customs.
  3. Egocentric (Red) – Explore personal identity and challenge tribal authority figures or belief systems.
  4. Authoritarian (Blue) – In order to understand purpose of life and have security need to obey higher authority and rules.
  5. Enterprising (Orange) – Awaken independence and achieve results while challenging authority and test possibilities.
  6. Humanistic (Green) – Seek love and peace within through sharing and becoming useful in the community.
  7. Integrative (Yellow) – Live free and explore what is life about while understanding that chaos and change are natural.
  8. Neo-tribal (Turquoise) – Experience the wholeness of existence by becoming one with all things, and restore natural harmony and balance.


Spiral Dynamics outline:


Spiral Dynamics outline

Integral Theory is based on the 4 quadrants of I, Me, We, It’s.
A great visual explanation of the quadrant :

Video: Integral Theory in 5 minutes


Podcast: The Graves Model (Spiral Dynamics)

This is a really great podcast. Listen to it with a piece of paper and a pen so you can write out the levels yourself and better understand the stages.



Some Resources

https://www.toolshero.com/change-management/spiral-dynamics/ – A great introduction article.

https://www.slideshare.net/wrightleadership/culture-scan-an-introduction-to-spiral-dynamics – A presentation slide set.

https://www.bewellbuzz.com/wellness-buzz/spiral-dynamics-evolution-human-consciousness/ – This comes across as a bit more hippy than the actual theory is, but it might resonate with some people, especially those on the Green level.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Makingsense/comments/6temd1/spiral_dynamics_crucial_knowledge_about_the/ – A great Reddit post about it all.

http://www.spiraldynamics.net/ – Some official looking website. Most official looking sites want to charge you a whole lot of money so you can attend a course to learn more.

http://www.clarewgraves.com/theory_content/conceptions/intro.html – The official Clare Graves website and some content.

https://www.valuematch.net/en/spiral-dynamics-assessments/value-assessment – An example of hour Spiral Dynamics can be used as an assesment tool for understanding people’s levels and behaviour.

https://medium.com/@sterlingcooley/coral-meme-spiral-dynamics-level-9-3db412799198 – An introduction to Level 9 the Coral world view. It’s still very new and almost no one is at that level, so it’s a lot of speculation.


w00t! Solar Thermal in Port Augusta


5+ years of campaigning and we finally have some great news. Solar Thermal is going to be build in Port Augusta!

Key Points

  • 150MW CST (Concentrating Solar Thermal) plant.
  • The South Australian state government is buying the power from it at a maximum of $78 per megawatt hour.
  • It’ll be build close to Port Augusta
  • Will cost $650 Million to create
  • Will be build by Solar Reserve
  • Starting construction in 2018, to be completed by 2020.
  • Will have 8-10 hours of storage (so about 10x the storage of the big Tesla battery)





Today, we are taking another massive step forward in delivering our plan for reliable, affordable and clean power for all South Australians.

My Government is backing a world-leading renewable energy project – a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta – delivered by SolarReserve.

This 150MW plant, the biggest of its kind in the world, will supply the Government with its electricity needs and provide more competition to the energy market – delivering lower prices to households.

Construction of the $650 million project will begin in 2018, and is estimated to be completed in 2020.

Importantly, this project will deliver more than 700 jobs, with requirements for local workers, supporting our State’s regions.

The Port Augusta story is a shining example of the transition of the South Australian economy.

We’ve seen the closure of a dirty coal-fired power station. We’re now seeing the commissioning of this world-leading renewable energy project.

This shows just how far renewable technologies have come. Renewables have always been cleaner. Renewables are now cheaper. And importantly, renewables are providing certainty and stability to the market.

This, in addition to our State-owned gas plant, and the world’s largest lithium ion battery, will help to make our energy grid more secure.

It’s another key part of our energy plan, delivering South Australian power for South Australians.



Repower Port Augusta streamed some of the press release live:

BREAKING: Jay Weatherill announces the world's biggest solar thermal power plant to be built in Port Augusta! This is a huge win for our community, South Australia, and the whole country! #solar4ptaugusta

Posted by Repower Port Augusta on Sunday, 13 August 2017


The main reason the Repower Pt Augusta campaign exists is because of the group Beyond Zero Emissions.

They created the Stationary Energy plan, explaining how Australia can get to 100% renewables within 10 years. As part of that it explained how Solar Thermal with storage is needed to help counter the variability of wind. It also showed how Pt Augusta is a prime spot, has lots of power lines, is basically at the start of the desert so has lots of sun. As such they created a small publication about the specifics of Pt Augusta


The group CLEANSA (who I was actively a part of at the time) helped organise BZE to give presentations in Adelaide and Pt Augusta. This helped setup the Repower Pt Augusta community. AYCC, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition then got on board and especially with the help of Daniel Spencer the Pt Augusta community did a vote between gas and Solar Thermal, they overwhelmingly chose Solar Thermal.

Then came the big Walk for Solar. 100+ people (including myself who filmed most of it) walking from Pt Augusta to Adelaide over the course of 2 weeks, with a massive rally at the end. That was a really epic experience and very bonding. Many of the people involved have gone on to do amazing things.

With community support came political support. A Senate select committee was formed to investigate it. The commercial interest was there from very early on. However at the start Alinta energy was the owner of the Northern power station, the large coal power station that was due to be closed down. This however ended up being closed down early after a fire.

During the 5+ years there was an ever increasing amount of SA’s power being generated from wind, to the point that we were having days almost completely powered by wind, with over 30% of the generation on average.

Alinta had pulled out, the gas power plants weren’t being used much due to the gas contracts being on the International energy market and in September of 2016 there was a massive blackout in Adelaide which rattled everyone. A large Tesla battery was announced as part of the work to help counter such issues. But that’s mainly for stabilising the power with millisecond response times in case of an outage, it isn’t enough to help counter the variable wind and solar to smooth out issues over a larger time frame.

On the 14th of August the SA Government had announced it’s tender for 75% of the government’s long-term power supply. A power purchase agreement with Solar Reserve to supply the next 20 years of power, powered by Solar Thermal with molten salt storage. Success! Nearly 10x the storage of the Tesla battery. SA is on track to become mostly powered by renewables.

There’s a lot LOT more to the story, many actions, events, discussions, politics and technical points which I’ve glossed over.


News and Articles

  1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-14/solar-thermal-power-plant-announcement-for-port-augusta/8804628 – Looks like Solar Reserve is the bidder they went with. Awesome :D
  2. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/daniel-spencer-port-augusta-solar-power-plant-sends-a-message-that-renewable-energy-is-the-future/news-story/21166f3efa2a7373749861ca924b30c9 – A great article by Daniel Spencer, one of the most important, continous activists on this campaign.
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sas-big-new-solar-plant-everything-you-need-know-ketan-joshi – Ketan Joshi shows some great stats and info.


Fixing SA’s power network

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about a Twitter conversation between Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes about fixing South Australia’s power issues.

Elon says he can fix the issue in 100 days by providing 100+MW of battery storage. Mike Cannon-Brookes says he can find the money and deal with the politics.

As a member of both the Repower Pt Augusta alliance and also an avid Entrepreneur I’m torn.

The short of it is that battery storage is a decent but reasonably expensive short term fix, although Solar Thermal is a cheaper better long term option.

Backstory :
I was a part of the group who got Beyond Zero Emissions to come out to SA and helped with the historic meeting where we (well Mark Ogge who was the director of BZE) explained how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy within 10 years using a combination of Solar Thermal and wind power.

Solar Thermal being a large power plant that uses mirrors to concentrate the suns energy at a tower where it heats a molten salt to about 560°C the hot liquid is stored in an insulated tank and when you need power you put the molten salt near water, the water turns to steam and the steam turns turbines, just like a standard coal or gas power plant. What’s great is it’s renewable but also because of the storage it can work at night or ramp up/down do deal with the changes in demand and variable energy supply from wind and solar pv.

This was all many years ago. We did a big Walk for Solar back in 2012 and I filmed most of it. That’s over half a decade ago now that we’ve known that the Nothern power station was going to close down, that the domestic gas contracts were going to be linked to the International energy market and the blackout issues we are seeing today would come about if nothing was done.

5+ years of campaigning. The community is behind the idea and why shouldn’t they be, the creation of Solar Thermal power plant also means the creation of a new manufacturing industry and lots of jobs, plus stable electricity prices as well as stable power.

We wouldn’t be in this mess if even just 2 or so years ago the Government or energy companies took up the call and we’d started building. Solar Reserve and other such solar thermal companies have had people willing to provide the investment for years, but they need a buyer of the energy.
Unfortunately a lack of long term thinking and I suspect some wilful ignorance has lead us to the point that there’s been some very disruptive blackouts.

The entrepreneur in me wants to see Tesla battery storage happen here. even just the chance that Elon might visit SA gives me tingles and I remember walking past Atlassian and going to some startup drinks events in Sydney hoping to see Mike Cannon-Brookes who’s definitely the Aussie Entrepreneurial superstar. But I also recognise that there’s other options here in Australia like Zen Energy or RedFlow which has Simon Hackett behind it and even just the reduced transport would probably make it worth it.

I should note that CORENA, the Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia, of which I’m a board member currently doesn’t fund battery storage, only Solar PV installations and energy efficiency measures as those are what reduce CO2 emissions the most effectively.

Of course any of the battery options is going to be a better short term fix then one suggested option of building yet another Gas plant. South Australia already has enough gas generation to power all of SA but as I mentioned over the last few years the commercial gas contracts have been linked to the International energy market, especially Japan. As such the gas companies find it more profitable to sell the gas to Japan then burn it here and sell the Electricity.

If you follow the scent the gas option has the smell of lobbying from the fossil fuel industry. They are trying to get fracking to happen here in SA so they can sell even more gas, but will destroy large areas of land, especially farmland, in doing so.

To me it comes down to this :

  • We have enough variable wind and solar that we need storage.
  • Solar Thermal is awesome as the price of renewables goes down over time whilst also providing both energy generation and storage.
  • Batteries are a bit of a zero sum game. They help smooth things out, but don’t help us transition to cheaper, renewable energy. They can however be installed fairly fast.
  • Gas is a negative sum game. The prices go up over time as it’s harder to extract finite fossil fuels and the prices wildly fluctuate in the mean time.

This means that batteries could create a great one, two punch when followed up with Solar Thermal.

As a side note there’s another option that could be done with the battery storage. Microgrids. Instead of connecting the 100MW of power to a couple of substations you could setup a shipping container sized setup in each block or so that can have the energy of that block or even suburb connect to it, you’d have storage, but in a distributed way that would allow more community connection. SolarPV owners could be charging their local microgrid which with enough Solar PV could make it self-sufficient. But in our privatised energy market this seems like a pipe dream.

For more information check out :
http://www.repowerportaugusta.org/ – Repower Port Augusta. The campaign to get Solar Thermal built in South Australia.

http://corenafund.org.au/ – CORENA A revolving funding model applied to Solar PV and other renewables and energy efficiency. I’m on the board.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/tesla-boss-elon-musk-pledges-to-fix-sas-electricity-woes/8344084 – The first article I read about this.

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and are not necessarily representative of the organisations that I’m associated with.

SA Power outage Blackstart in relatively plain English

On Wednesday 28 September 2016 at 4:16pm South Australia had a state wide power outage, a black start event.

I, like most people were still at work and managed to continue working for a couple of hours thanks to laptop batteries and mobile phone internet. Although riding my bike home would have been crazy given the storm and lack of traffic lights. Thankfully I got a lift home. By 11:06pm the power came back on at my place. Having the entire state’s power go out is certainly not something that happens very often, as such it begs the question as to what happened.

The short version

3 main power lines got damaged by the storm, all within less than a minute. The loss of power from them meant an increase in load from Victoria, the load was more than that connection could handle, to protect itself from overloading it disconnected. With such a sudden drop in power the remaining power generators also tripped.

The 3 main connections which were severed by the storm were 275,000 volt transmission lines. The really big ones that usually buzz. It is believed that a Tornado or at least very high wind gust caused the damage.

One of the High Voltage Power Lines Destroyed by the Storm
One of the High Voltage Power Lines Destroyed by the Storm (Source: ABC)


The more detailed explanation

It was the storm which caused the outage as it caused 3 high voltage power lines from the North of the state to be damaged with 22 towers damaged or destroyed. The 4th high voltage line also tripped, but was not directly damaged.
They all disconnected within the space of about 40 seconds. South Australia was using about 1,826MW of power at the time and without the 315MW of (wind) power from the connectors the energy needed to come from somewhere. There was increased load on the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria to compensate. This went from delivering 525MW to well over the 600MW maximum rating it was designed to transmit. As a protection measure the connection was dropped, meaning that within less than a minute (and most of it happening within a couple of seconds) the state was now 850MW-900MW short of power.
The unexpected disconnections also caused the frequency of the electricity supply to change to fast. The power in Australia aims to run at 50hz (the US has 60 cycles a second) and the frequency is allowed to change by 1 Hz/second and the power generators don’t run if it’s below 47 Hz. The loss of the link to Victoria caused the frequency to drop by 6 and 7 Hz per second, far more than is tolerable, thus the rest of the power generation, the wind generators and Torrens Island power station were all dropped and the state went black.

To restore power the electricity companies had to initiate a black start procedure. From 5:23pm Electranet went and selectively turned on the Heywood interconnector, trying to get power to Torrens Island. This was important as it’s a gas fired power station able to generate up to 1,280MW of power and thus can help offset the lost power from the disconnected power lines. unfortunately the power station needs a lot of electricity to start and attempts to do that with the backup power didn’t work and storm damage caused the secondary backup to fail. The priority was getting the power from Victoria to Torrens Island. The power station was back up and running at 9pm. Pelican Point power station was also switched on (it hadn’t been running prior to the blackout) and was generating power by 10:05pm
By midnight on Wednesday (28th), 80–90% of electricity that could be reconnected was. Unfortunately due to the power line failures the North was effectively cut off from the rest of the state and it wasn’t until 9pm on Friday (30th September) 2016, that the last remaining transmission line to the southern Eyre Peninsula, was restored.

There’s an interesting part about how the 4th line that tripped but wasn’t destroyed. Because of the damage to the lines it is practice and ElectraNet’s operating procedure to conduct a patrol before reconnecting a line when such a ground fault occurs. Unfortunately the continued rain, poor weather and high winds (with gusts up to 120Km/h) meant the helicopters were grounded. This meant some poor sods had to drive along hundreds of km’s of power lines making sure they were fine. Thankfully the 4th line was confirmed intact and reconnected around noon on Thursday. I would like to thank the people who had to put in heroic efforts to get the power restored. Thank you.


Power Generation before Blackstart
Power Generation before Blackstart


There’s an average of 16 tornadoes we know about a year in Australia and where they occurred is a known higher risk area during a time of higher activity. I’ve been told that whilst the Bureau of Meteorology can identify structures in the radar images that indicate the potential for tornadoes to develop, they can’t directly identify Tornadoes and instead rely on reports, or video from the public, emergency services and the like. Such evidence points to there being 4 tornadoes during the storm around and F1 and F2 in scale, thus it’s certainly possible there was winds up to 140Km/h that likely caused the damage to the towers.

Below is a video of a tornado forming outside Blyth on the day.


For those wanting to see a variety of stats related to electricity production check out the AER website.


Update :

There was over 200,000+ households without power on the 1st of Dec 2016 after the Heywood Interconnector dropped out the AEMO media statement mentions it was “Due to the need to balance the frequency of the network”, which further strengthens the case for Solar Thermal in Pt Augusta as such a power station would provide not just better energy security but also the Frequency Anxillary Control Services needed in this case.

Lets Treat Violence like a Contagious Disease

A number of years ago I watched Gary Slutkin’s TED talk on treating violence like a contagious disease and it has drastically changed the way I think about terrorist attacks, military war, police brutality, world peace and more.

If you haven’t watched the presentation already I HIGHLY recommend you do. Actually the rest of the article expects that you have.


OK I know you haven’t watched the TED talk yet but the crux of it around hiring new categories of workers, the first being violence interrupters. They are hired from the same group for the credibility, trust and access. Just like the health workers in Somalia, but designed for a different category. They are trained in persuasion, cooling people down, buying time and reframing.
Then there’s the outreach workers who to keep people on therapy for six to 24 months. Just like treating Tuberculosis, but the object is behavior change. There is also a bunch of community activities for changing norms.


I had that talk in the back of my mind when today I came across an article on Medium titled Some Numbers on Terror by Tom Pollock and whilst I knew that you were far more likely to die of a car crash than a terrorist attack, he explains the point well.

He’s talking about the terrorist attack in Nice, France and a quote from his article :

In France, in the last two years, there have been 8 attacks for which responsibility was claimed by Islamic Extremist Terrorists, killing a total of 247 people. There are 66,000,000 people in France. At the current level of activity, their odds of being killed in a terrorist attack in a given year are less than two ten-thousandths of one per cent. That’s 27 times lower than their odds of dying in a car accident.

Even if the current level of attacks continues for 80 years (which would be unprecedented), a child born today in France would have only one percent of a one percent chance of being killed in one.

In Turkey, the probability is lower. 194 people killed in attacks since the start of 2015, with a population of 80,000,000 gives each one of them a roughly one ten-thousandth of one percent chance of being killed in one, in any given year.


Now he does point out how there’s a major difference between being killed by an accident and being murdered. Intent.

Whilst the type of response we need as a civilisation is the type based on Gary’s idea of treating violence like a contagious disease, I fear that we will continue to perpetuate the cycles of violence. We need people who will intervene and prevent the violence from spreading. Similar to the protagonist in Armada by Ernest Cline (I recently finished the audiobook).


From a geo-political point of view there is a lot of the hatred against Muslims refugees, especially in Europe but even here in Australia. However from my relatively limited understanding of the situation (I’m glossing over a lot). During the cold war the US indirectly gave Afghanistan Billions in weapons and training to help them fight off the USSR (Russia) who was invading at the time. In part because of the failed invasion and events like Chernobyl around the same time caused the USSR to fall apart.
Fast forward some decades and the US invades Afghanistan basically as revenge against 9/11. Firstly, this is spreading violence back to the very country which the US had already armed and taught how to fight. A rather bad idea.

Think about it, if you are a child when a foreign country invades you and kills your parents destroys your school and slaughters your friends. Are you going to grow up to be a patent lawyer, or are you more likely to be a suicide bomber? Here again the need for intervention to prevent the spread of violence could have helped.

Later, under the guise of some story about weapons of mass destruction, Iraq is invaded, although it’s well known that the main reason for the invasion of the Middle East is to secure access to oil. Later the US and it’s allies and even Russia attack Syria and other middle eastern countries in an attempt to combat a group which formed because of the very violence the ‘allies’ inflicted. There’s a mass exodus with millions of refugees fleeing. As has been done with nearly every armed conflict, there are some violent people within the refugees who have been exposed to large amounts of violence, often with an ideology which promotes it and they then spread this violence.


So from a systems perspective I see the primary reason for much of the Western violence inflicted in the Middle East is their dependence on fossil fuels. The black gold that keeps the very tanks and aircraft running and the cogs of the economy spinning. I’m reminded about Endgame by Derrick Jensen and whilst I don’t agree with his conclusion, I agree with a number of his premises the most pertinent being “In a city your life must be based on violence (due to the required importation of resources)“. This doesn’t have to be the case, we COULD have sustainable cities, but they would have to be majorly reworked so they aren’t largely depended on oil and other resources.

However, The US military budget was USD$637 Billion for 2015 (if you include ), that is to say that the US spends more on it’s ‘defence force’, than the next seven countries combined.

USD $598.5 Billion in Military


Imagine if the Trillions of dollars spent on just the US Military from the end of the cold war to now was instead spent on renewable energy technologies like solar thermal, wind and the like? The US, Australia and the ‘Allied’ countries could be exporting energy. The great thing about renewable energy is that the price goes down over time, so we would have nearly free electricity and an incredible level of abundance to go with it. Add in a culture that treats violence like a contagious disease and you have the type of world I would prefer to live in.

I would like to point out that one of the common original causes of violence is resource scarcity. Think about it, when you imagine an end of the world scenario where there’s barely any resources left then everyone is fighting over those last resources. However in a more utopian vision you usually see an abundance of resources. There’s no need to fight. As such, we should be pushing towards a post scarcity society. THAT is what is worth working towards and non-violently fighting for.

If you are interested in learning more about how we could transition towards such as society let me know and I’ll post about the Price of Zero transition.

The Wealth of Nations but not of the world

So I recently started listening to the audiobook of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. It’s an epic 36 hour long audiobook. I’ve got the physical book as well and it’s also an epic tome.

But, within the intro chapter Adam Smith already makes some presuppositions or at least conclusions which irritate me.  For example he explains that the productivity of a nation is influenced by two main factors, the labour force and the environment. Particularly the quantity and quality of the labour force and the access to resources and the environment. Obviously making snow is much much harder in the Simpson desert then it is in Antarctica, yet he deems the ability of the labour force to be the primary factor in any discussion about productivity. There is a supposition there that the environment can be trumped by human (or animal and these days robotic) labour. This idea of being able to control and almost disregard the environment has had profound consequences on our civilisation. Naomi Klein explains in “This Changes Everything” just how dangerous this thinking has become, with sacrifice zones of nearly permanently destroyed environments and a large disregard for human well being. It has now lead to the climate change disaster we are all being affected by, even if some (including myself) have had a far greater hand in causing it.

Adam Smith talks a lot about how pin makers can make a lot more pins by having the 18 different steps of making a pin, such as drawing out the wire, straightening it, cutting, grinding, sharpening, adding the head, all done by different specialised people then those 18 people individually trying to do all the tasks and making their own pins instead of just focusing on a specific task. This specialisation is obviously what Henry Ford took to heart when harnessing the power of the assembly line.

But he then talks about how Agriculture can’t easily be as well specialised because of the seasonal variation of the work. You can’t employ someone in a permanent position to just be seeding or always be harvesting. Apparently because a farmer needs to be hoeing the ground, then laying seeds and later weeding, and at another time harvesting and can’t specialise in any specific task is the primary reason the agricultural industry hadn’t had the major leaps and bounds in productivity that areas like pin making or creating nails have. Of course, making pins or nails is mainly a task based around metal working, it’s not based on growing and fostering complex life. For someone how explains the ecosystem of materials flow and all the different professions which need to work together just for the shirt on your back to be created and get there, he hasn’t yet hinted at any limits to productivity. There’s no hint about a carrying capacity of the Earth.

Of course, I’m only an hour into it, so maybe he does mention it later, but for those lazy Capitalists who only looked at the first couple of chapters, I can see why they love his works. To me it feels more like he was excited about how new technologies and work techniques were able to create such a difference to productivity and were something he could work on and optimise. It’s not that the environment doesn’t matter, it’s that he couldn’t control it nearly as much, so it isn’t his focus. It’s a very unfortunate bias.


The bankers were wrong

The tin foil hat people were right, although tin foil hats won’t stop Government snooping. Also, the government probably doesn’t care about those wearing aluminium on their head. They seem to be more scared of people with towels on their head.

The hippies were right Western Civilisation is destroying the planet. The story that we have told ourselves is wrong, but the Hippies didn’t give us a viable alternative. Hopefully the geisters can.

The bankers were wrong. They aren’t too big to fail and whilst they’ve proved it already, until Bitcoin we didn’t have a decent alternative.


Starting with Why

Teach with Reach

The core value of Teach with Reach is “To foster a life long passion for learning“.


This is something I came up with a while ago but only recently updated the website to reflect. The previous driver that I had was of “fostering paradigm changes in Education” which  is really just part of the How, not the What or the Why.

For those of you who don’t know, Teach with Reach is the education startup I technically started last year but won’t be working on it full time until next year.

Start with Why

I’ve seen Simon Sinek TED talk and a few other videos on Starting with Why , but it wasn’t until I started listening to the audiobook of “Start with Why : How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” that I realised I haven’t explained why we need to foster students (of all ages) to have a life long passion for learning.

Firstly what do I mean by a life long passion for learning? By that I mean a passion, a hunger, a thirst for knowledge. But it is more than that. It is wisdom that we want, for wisdom is both knowing something and acting upon that knowledge. Just because I know I shouldn’t eat bad foods, does not mean I act upon that knowledge. So both knowing and action are important.


There are a number of important trends of interest.

The Internet

If you go back to the start of the universal school system there was very few books. It was highly likely that each school might only have a single text book on a subject (e.g Maths). So the teachers would write up parts of the book onto the blackboard and get the students to copy them down. New theories and concepts developed so slowly that the knowledge gained through school would still be relevant by the time the worker had died. These days we have had an information access explosion. We are producing information at an astounding rate and have access to such an incredible wealth of it. But the majority of people have not been given the tools needed to deal with filtering this information. Whilst text books are usually carefully fact checked and the truth is considered paramount, blog posts and adverts are often the exact opposite and a large amount of the ‘information’ we have access to is designed to distort the truth or be false. To filter out the crap we need to grow up with a strong grounding in critical thinking. To be able to apply the baloney detection kit. To understand that we want to believe, but that it is better to have understandings than a belief.

Knowledge Worker

Go back 10,000+ years and humans were hunter gathers, which was actually pretty easy going with only a few hours of work a day needed to survive, as long as you didn’t mind travelling to where the animals were. Obviously some people didn’t like the travelling especially having been forced out of Africa with only a few thousand humans who had survived the arduous trek towards the equator during the ice age at the time so as the weather warmed humans started agriculture.  The toiling of soil, controlling of water and animals and storage of grain required a LOT of work. 80% of the population needed to be working exhausting sunrise to sunset days just to produce enough food for everyone. Think about that when you see an old movie about knights and castles with peasants working. The people in the castle or city was barely 20% of the population.

The discovery of coal and later oil helped start the industrial era with the Watt steam engine taking shape in the late 1770s. What started as an engine to help pump water out of coal mines also started a revolution that saw the number of people agriculture go from about 60% at the time to barely 2% by the 1920’s, with people instead working in factories.  It should be noted that this transition also saw the rise of the nearly universal school system which is still in use today and which was designed for and has become incredibly good at creating factory workers. The Industrial era faded away with the advent of robotics and was replaced with the service sector, however the Internet and computers are starting to see that fade away with the new wave being the knowledge worker. Think about it, when did you have to go into a bank to ask a teller for cash? I’m guessing that you’ve used an ATM many many times more. We thankfully did away with people who manually operate elevators and now have elevators without buttons inside them. Ohh and taxi’s and bus drivers? Make way for self-driving cars.

The type of jobs we need in the future aren’t ones where humans perform repetitive tasks, those that can have a workflow and people can be motivated to do better just by paying them more. No, the types of work we will do in the future won’t be considered a job for it will be primarily powered by intrinsic motivation, will require lots of creativity and you will measured it by how much you are in the Flow/in the zone. The freshman Uni students of today are learning content that will likely be out of date before they have finished their degree and will be getting a job that probably doesn’t even exist yet. How can our society cope if people grow up with the idea of 20/40/20. 20 years learning, 40 years working, 20 years retired. No, we need people who are love to and are always learning new skills, new knowledge, and creating new connections.


Something that Aubrey de Grey explains well is that medical technology is advancing at such a rate that (plus or minus a generation) we will be increasing life expectancy more than a year per year. So some who is 20 and has a life expectancy of 80 might see a life expectancy of 300 by the time they are 60 and they could live for over 1,000 years.

If you talk with enough people you find that like their bones and ligaments start to get stiff and lose their adaptability, their brains seem to calcify over time. Their ability to adapt to new information and change their understanding seems to end up more like a belief about how the world works which becomes very hard to change. Notice how in general it seems the older people get the less computer literate they seem to be, the harder it is to learn new languages and the more conservative  their views seem to be. What is interesting is that this doesn’t always happen. I know 70 year olds who are better at web development than many of my friends who are under 30, yet I also have friends that are barely 20 years old who seem to already be very set in their ways.  If humans are going to be able to live for 1,000 years then they are going to have to overturn many MANY current assumptions about how the world works. We will need to be able to change the core of what we consider is our identity.

Just like we are going to have to prevent our joints from seizing up as we get older, we are going to have to prevent our minds from seizing up.

I can’t tell you what the future will be like, but if the past and current trends are anything to go by it will be a very different type of world and I want to ensure we all have the ability to cope and adapt.


Some of the links in the content above are to videos. I find that I learn very well through videos and thought I might embed some of the really good ones in case you also love them.


My story

I myself got my thirst for knowledge after reading the book Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder when I was in Year 7. I still remember going up to the teacher and explaining how I knew about the concept of Atoms. However I didn’t learn it from reading a high school text book as they probably thought, but from the philosophical concept of indivisible particles which Democritus had put forth during the classical Greek era.

Representative Democracy can it work?

In Australia and the majority of the Western world we have a form of democracy called representative democracy.  We vote for people who represent us.

Our economic system both expects and requires that people work in their own rational self-interest.

The question is, how can a representative democracy work in our capitalist driven economy?

We are voting for people to represent us, but they are expected to (and most do) work in their own self interest. Think of all the times politicians and political parties have promised one thing to get into power but done another to gain them more money, wealth or power.
It sounds to me like a fundamental system disorder. The two systems clash.


This post is in part a response to https://medium.com/lessons-learned/eea037d61e89 in which Stuart Austin tries to apply the Lean Startup principles of validation to politics. I’m instead applying the systems design thinking which I have learnt through the Zeitgeist Movement. It’s also something I’ve been wanting to write for a few years.

That said I helped create the video below to give Australian’s a basic understanding of politics in Australia and how to vote according to what you value.

Civilisation Breakdown

I don’t think Civilisation will collapse as everyone keeps being worried it will, it is more likely to either break down or undergo multiple major paradigm changes at once.

Henceforth I will try and use the term ‘Civilisation breakdown‘, instead of  ‘Civilisation collapse. It gives me more leeway in being able to say “I told you so!” later on… Not that such bragging rights will matter without the Internet to brag on.

Continue reading Civilisation Breakdown