Crowdsourced Hydroponic Loops

This is a bit of a spiel/rant… the thing that inspired it is right at the end.

Ok, back to this guy.

He’s inciting violence. I’ve been inciting violence in my mind for a while now… in my mind… and if I get drunk I write it down, but when I’m sober I delete it again because it’s tactically catastrophic. It’s an own-goal. If Machiavelli had written a book called “The Peasant” instead of “The Prince”, he would have said “Don’t give princes an excuse to move the battle to a terrain where they’re massively equipped to win”.

We are from the network. They are not. Everything we do must be a network-response. Otherwise we’re fucked.

Network responses completely blind-side and unbalance hierarchy.

So. Derrick Jensen – doesn’t leave many places to hide – other than his definition of civilisation… which is a way of life based on non-renewable, non-local resources. A city is something that must import resources. So we got to go off-grid. That’s all.

I don’t know if we can do that 100%. I don’t know if we’d want to – or even if we have to.

So anyway. We’ve got to go (some %) off grid… and we have to do it in an urban environment.

I think there is also a moral component to this – it is our duty to turn life’s essentials from scarcities into abundances (you know, like Jesus did)… there are riots kicking off in Spain right now… because there aren’t enough jobs. I’m highly dubious about this idea of “jobs”. I don’t think we need more jobs, I think we need to reduce overheads. I think we need less rent. We need to stop giving money to people who are getting something for nothing. We’ve got amazing technology now – and it’s getting better all the time. We need to create the technologies for a way of life which creates abundance.

Marcin’s open-farm thing crossed the radar again the other day… partly due to a conversation about solar->steam

I like this project – but it’s attempting to make a closed-system on a couple of acres of land. Which is probably what’s required for a 100% closed-system, but we can’t achieve that… what we need is a 60% or 40% or even 10% urban equivalent of this system. Something smaller and lighter and more ikea-like. We have fantastic technology that is exploding in every direction. If we can produce 80-inch flat-screen TVs then we can do this other stuff.

This turned up the other day

backyard farming

It’s a farm-shop in Dalston, London – probably enough to sustain about 4 people in Dalston, but it’s not nothing. When I first moved to England in the late 80s, you couldn’t get grass… the only THC we could get was imported hashish. Today the UK is a max-exporter of marijuana… and it is famously strong. Hydroponic. People are growing hydroponic pot in spare-rooms and attics and cupboards and so on. We can do this stuff.

Even if it isn’t 100% of our nutritional requirements. Even if solar-cells don’t give us 100% of our needs… it’s ok. Some is better than nothing… 1 is infinitely more than 0.

1 is a start. Just a little cash-crop in the cupboard hugely tempers the devastation of 46% unemployment. It’s the difference between nothing and something.

So… finally getting round to the thing that inspired all this.


There’s this site called Pachube that allows for the publishing/collation/collection of real-time sensors. Home-automation stuff. All that sort of thing. This is going to be big… we are at the beginning of a revolution in sensors. An RSS feed for the health of your body… of your local river. Your plant. There have been various TED talks about this… and I think most of those are vapour-ware to be honest, but not this. It’s coming.

Anyway this guy is growing hydroponic peppers – controlling the environmental conditions with an arduino and uploading the stats to pachube.

I think that’s incredibly interesting – it means we can not just crowd-source optimal conditions for growing, we can actually use these optimised outputs to control the machine that controls our plants. We can use the Chilli-guy’s program to control our greenhouse. We don’t need to become experts in hydroponics, we just download the program.


This can theoretically be taken a step further – if we can find a way of automatically measuring the vitality of a plant, we can feed this back into the system… put a genetic algorithm into the loop… and we have plants that are evolving their own environmental conditions.

Maybe plants are more fickle than this… but hydroponics is a way of simplifying the fickleness… and genetic algorithms are weirdly smart, and fast.