Categories
Food

Can we open source farming?

The more I learn and work in the field and in the technology that will work on the field, the more I found that farming needs open source tools. From protocols and equipment, to digital tools.

As one of the oldest professions of the Antropocene, agriculture has evolved from the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation. Friends and allies enjoyed the ripe benefits of innovation and them, consequently, evolved new practices and introduced new ideas to the agricultural landscape. But that changed dramatically during the last 70 years. The industrial complex became a race of “the winner takes all” approach. Closed sources, private discovery and very strong enforcing of protection of Intellectual Property made the new agriculture a game of strategy.

For the last ten years, all this innovation got concentrated in four major players: Bayer, ChemChina, Dupont and BASF. And these behemoths have closed the sources even tighter. Proprietary software, close protocols and lack of interoperability result in farmers needing to buy into one of the players and having to commit to it to avoid the pain of migration.

In the last 10 years innovation has been mostly the digitalization of the farm. Digital maps, digital reports, digital accounting. But this is not real innovation, is just a step towards it.

In my opinion, the next big wave that will transform agriculture as we now it today, will be born from the sprout of new open (free) protocols, technologies and tools that will enable easy sharing, strict data ownership to the user that is portable and sovereign, replicable and scalable in different contexts and deployable with simple tools.

There are many projects and groups trying to move the needle forward, but is unfortunate that their traction is still mostly hobbyist and tech-driven farmers (pioneers for sure). I hope more startups and farms keep building on this blocks of open ag. Their competitive advantage will be in the ability to use this tools (and its continuous enhancements) to make tastier, healthier and profitable products from open farms. That is the only way to make farming an open source environment.

PS: If you have/know projects that are embracing open source farming hit me an email to: openfarming [at] yorch [dot] co

Categories
Faith

The problem of too much ambition

Ambition blinds you. It puts blinkers that stop you from seeing other opportunities. Uncontrolled Ambition is a great igniter of greed and selfishness.

After reading to Bob Iger, I came to the realization that ambition is overrated. Is a term of taking instead of giving. Is focused of self-achievement, is not about the big picture, is not about the process. Everything is focused on attaining a certain position, status, prize.

Ambition can also be addictive. After you have reached a point, you want the next one. A mentality that drains your brain to a single arbitrary goal that can’t be measured against your sense of accomplishment. Because, for the one with ambition, there is never enough, there is room for more. More for what? For more ambition. The next step, the next role, the next position, the next possession.

I think that a good antidote from uncontrolled ambition is kindness and empathy. Where you can pour yourself for others, some with different goals in life. Your “drive” can be use to help others instead of fueling your internal Napoleon.

Uncontrolled ambition becomes a cell. A prison of the mind. Check your past wounds, maybe there is the origin for the eager of gaining status. Maybe rather you should be taking responsibility.

Categories
Family

¿Educar en casa un asunto de Religiosos, Hippies y Ermitaños? – Parte 1

Hasta hace unos meses la educación en casa era un tabú. Al mencionar a nuestros amigos o familiares que queríamos educar a nuestros hijos en casa, la primera pregunta era “¿Por qué?” y la segunda era “¿Están seguros?”.

Y es entendible.

El sistema educativo actual es una respuesta a una sociedad industrial que a levantado a una buena cantidad de la población mundial de la pobreza y ha brindado oportunidades a millones (a los que tienen acceso a las instituciones públicas o privadas educativas, por supuesto).

Pero todo cambio con el COVID-19. Todo el mundo ahora piensa en cómo enfrentar esta pandemia en un ambiente que es altamente contagioso. El aula de clases es un excelente plato petri para cultivar un virus que se transmite por el contacto y la gotas de saliva. Aunque todo indica a que los niños poco puede ser afectados, no se descarta que sean transmisores.

Con esta situación, muchos padres se ven enfrentados a cuestionar los principios por los que sus hijos hacen parte de la escolarización tradicional:

¿Cuales son los objetivos de la educación? ¿Porqué nos educamos?

  • Supervivencia
    • No queremos ser esclavos de nuestra ignorancia. Solo sobreviven los que saben (qué comer, donde comer, cómo reproducirse, con quien reproducirse, cómo buscar refugio, dónde refugiarse y buscar abrigo, y de ahí en adelante)
  • Colaboración
    • Cuando distribuimos el conocimiento, tenemos mayor probabilidad de éxito. Especialización y mejor administración de los recursos.
  • Contribución
    • Nos hacemos parte de la sociedad cuando no solo recibimos, sino que damos. De nuestro tiempo, intelecto, y recursos.
  • Superación
    • La auto-reflexión y la comparación nos invitan a aprender para ser mejores versiones de nosotros mismos.
  • Status
    • La sabiduría es considerada una característica suprema.
  • Otro
    • (Agrega aquí tú motivo)

¿Porqué enviamos a nuestros hijos a escolarizarse?

  • Para que puedan desarrollar su potencial
  • Para que puedan contribuir a la sociedad en la que viven
  • Para que sean mejores que nosotros
  • Porque si no lo hacen, van a tener un futuro menos promisorio
  • Para que nos dejen trabajar
  • Porque no puedo/quiero educarlo yo
  • Porque yo fui al colegio
  • Porque el gobierno lo obliga
  • Porque es un derecho
  • Una combinación de todas las anteriores

¿Qué dicen los expertos sobre la educación?

 La educación no consiste únicamente en aprender a leer y escribir, sino que constituye la base del desarrollo personal. Para que el engranaje de una sociedad funcione, sus miembros tienen que tener una educación básica que les permita desarrollarse como individuos para poder convivir en sociedad.

ONU

(All children have the right to go to school and learn, regardless of who they are, where they live or how much money their family has.

UNICEF

El derecho a la educación es un derecho humano fundamental. Recoge los principios de indivisibilidad e interdependencia de todos los derechos humanos dado que la educación cubre aspectos civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales.

UNESCO

¿Cuál es la realidad actual de la educación?

Los padres y madres son empujados a perseguir opciones de empleo que requieren más tiempo y energía para poder avanzar en su carrera profesional. Jornadas extensas de hasta 16 horas diarias son una condición perfecta para desconectar a padres e hijos. El aumento de guarderías para niños menores de 6 meses no se detiene. Estamos cada vez más ocupados. Pero ese no es el mayor problema.

Estamos distraídos. Nuestras carreras profesionales, el entretenimiento, las redes sociales, y otra decena de preocupaciones adultas, absorben nuestra atención. Lastimosamente no tenemos más que 24 horas al día, y nuestros hijos pocas veces reciben más de un 10% de ese tiempo.

Podemos considerar que el motivo por el que nos educamos es en general guiado por una cosmovisión personal (porqué y para qué existimos). La educación que queremos y la cual pensamos en darle a nuestras futuras generaciones, la responsabilidad de tal educación y cómo debe proveerse, también son influenciadas por nuestra cosmovisión. Muchos creemos que nuestra responsabilidad en la educación de la siguiente generación debe ser por el colegio industrial, y por lo tanto relegamos el aprendizaje de nuestros hijos a terceros y sus intereses.

¿Religiosos, Hippies o Ermitaños?

Desde hace décadas, un grupo reducido de padres de diversos orígenes y circunstancias socio-económicas han optado por la opción de educar a sus hijos en casa. Los motivos poco varían de aquellos padres que deciden escolarizar a sus hijos. Pero hay algo que los hace singulares: quieren estar más involucrados. Conocen los curriculums, entienden los intereses personales de sus hijos y se esfuerzan por acompañarles en el proceso. Como en todo hay excepciones, este no es el cáliz de oro.

Esta es la mayor crítica del sistema de escolarización en casa (luego de: “¿Tus hijos no van a tener amigos? ¿Y la socialización?” ) es que los niños y niñas tienen acceso restringido a la información, los padres pueden proveer un curriculum sesgado y ajustado a sus propias creencias, prácticas y costumbres. Lo que se ignora con esta opinión, es que en el sistema educativo tradicional también existen los sesgos y ajustes de los contenidos, basados no necesariamente en pedagogía sino en ideología política. Al final, la educación pública es controlada por el gobierno de turno. Las instituciones educativas privadas son iguales. Por lo tanto, como padres, en la educación industrial lo que hacemos es tratar de ajustar nuestros sesgos y preferencias lo mejor posible con la ideología de turno. ¿Es entonces el sesgo y el criterio de contenidos un problema para la educación de los niños? Depende del criterio del padre con respecto al objetivo de la educación de sus hijos e hijas. Por lo tanto, el problema no es que los padres controlen los contenidos que sus hijos consumen, sino que no puedan ser veedores, mentores y ejemplos de cómo aprender de diversos orígenes del conocimiento con el objetivo último de que los niños y niñas puedan construir una identidad propia con criterio y capacidad de juicio práctico.

NOTA: Este tema es tan complejo y largo que escribiría más de lo que se puede consumir en un artículo. PRONTO Parte 2.

Categories
Food

Robotics+biology is the future of Agriculture

Please keep your WholeFoods Heirloom tomatoes for the end of the article.

The World is facing a great challenge. We need to reduce our carbon footprint, but at the same time keep producing the same or more amount of food, and distributing it around the world. Globalization and the Internet make us know each other (the good and the bad) and trade our food without any consequences. Mostly because we were eating petroleum subsidized food. Unfortunately, the liquid dinosaur bone is not renewable and a big pollutant.

So, people now are trying to figure out how to replace the petro-based-food-system with an alternative that provides enough or more access, and control of the daily apple.

My hunch is that we will see a rise in two technologies that will unbundle a big part of the agricultural production world wide. Robots and Biological Products. This two together will unleash a great untapped principal in the agro-industry: exponential growth. Nature, if leave by itself, will do their best to keep growing, to expand, to do more from less. Biological based practices, like regenerative agriculture, and Biological based technologies, like BioProducts (Inputs) and BioSolutions (On Season analysis), not only will extend the cropland lifetime but also will allow the fields to diversify into multiple crop types. This will change the landscapes all over the world.

Robotics, as a partner in this ecosystem, is a clear path for replacement of labor and improvement in efficiency. The labor of the fields will be delegated to science and art. Robots, as the cost go down, will enable that fields produce in an automated way, with more precision and continuous improvement. We could produce food everywhere.

Most of the current problems of food access are related to impoverished communities that have no access to technologies that enable them to produce more. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, when technology arrives to the fields, the farmers want to leave. Technology liberates them from the toil, and the empty space becomes harder and harder to fill in. And so far, we have been using chemical fertilizers and crop protection inputs, and ilegal low paid immigrants, to outset that trend but that would not be the case in 30-50 years. Robots made of reusable materials, easy assembly and high reliability will be the norm and with the biological solutions and inputs, it will move the humanity to the next step. The abundance of the distributed agriculture system. At that point, hopefully we have started to reverse Climate Change and no asteroid had hit us, otherwise, we will have to start to think of new problems to solve, as we have been for the last couple millions of years.

Categories
Coding FooBar Front End

Premature complexity: an enemy of innovation

For +13 years or more than 12k hours, I’ve been trying to solve problems using code. Of those, I found myself over and over again surrounded of the same principles: “Don’t Repeat Yourself, Keep it Simple Stupid, Write Once Test Twice, etc”. I’ve tried to abide by those as much as possible. But I found my self entrenched in a complex system of thought that started to become a weight around my ankle instead of helping me move forward.

I believe that progressive enhancement is a journey. It is impossible to know every single requirement before hand without expending your whole life in the process. That means that innovation is not a result of a deep thought process but one of opportunity cost. If the problem is big enough, it will take considerably longer to come to a solution, still it will not be a perfect one. It’s the constant reiterative thinking of the problem and its minutia that drives innovation and problem solving.

Sometimes I’ve found myself in intricate system designs or shiny algorithms that make me feel smart but do little to push innovation forward. External complexity, the one that is not intersect to the problem being solved, needs to be eluded as much as possible. Don’t try to build a compiler if your problem is not compiling. Keep the focus, I’d tell myself. But it is hard. Because as we start to work on a single problem, we can start to see the other multiple problems that call for help. Those are on their own way of innovation, great motivations but even better distractors.

Complexity is a natural outcome of mature products. But they shouldn’t be of early ones. Introduction of new layers of complexity should be delayed as much as possible and considered as a way to slow down innovation. Movement and transformation, iteration and ideation, require fluidity of models and technologies that allow for continual improvement. Innovation thrives in low regulated environments, think of complexity as extra regulation added to your solution.

In any stage of problem solving, I suggest to my future self to consider the fastest approach to a professional technical solution, reduce complexity by focusing on the real problem and reject as much as possible any introduction of tangential complexity that would slow down progress.

Categories
Faith

The moral dilema

Full disclosure, I am not a philosopher.

When you think of doing the “right” thing, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? What makes you FEEL good? What BENEFITS you? What is CONSIDERED GOOD for others?

The moral dilema until this day has been unresolved. As we go deeper and deeper in our own motivations and the desires, we found that we know when something is right. Somewhere close to our bellybutton we feel that tingling tickling. Well, so far, no one clearly and irrefutably knows how we learn to feel that way. Some say its evolution, preservation, the build up of millions of years of experience that were passed from one being to its upbringing. For others is a socio-cultural construct, that is subject of the norms and rules of the places where you are born and raised. Another option is religion, that puts the origin of morality in a being alien to the human species.

The postmodernism, the crumbling of the institutions, the access to all information, the lack of trust, the lost of the tribe, the isolation of the self, the journey of self-discovery, the pursuit of fame, the instant gratification addiction. This all are enemies to the question. How should we live? How to find an answer for were does good comes from? It can’t be by our pleasures and passions, those chain us. It can’t be by our intellect and reason, we are limited by our own capacity. It can’t be by our conquest of the self, it alienate us.

I believe that good has a source. That is visible. That can be felt. That is present in the overwhelming sea, the lovers kiss, that children smile, the poor gratitude, the rich empathy, the hug of a friend, the life lived for others. In this world of relatives, good is a constant. That’s how we should live: Finding good in everything, being good with everyone. I believe that if we try hard, this path will lead us to discover the answer for the moral dilemma.

Doing good we find truth.

Categories
Food

The Barn-sized Vending Machine

If we don’t have to go to the supermarket, how are we going to get our food? It’s going to look very different than what we have today.

Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

I imagine in the future we will pick (or get delivered) a subscription box that will contain all our basic needs in terms of food. It will be highly customizable and most importantly highly available.

Think of a barn-sized vending-machine fulfillment warehouses. Users will do their ordering using the internet, and will be able to schedule a delivery or pick up at the store. But before this can happen, here are some behaviors that will need to change before we can move to this future.

Last minute shopping fee

People are used to waste their time doing last minute grocery shopping. This can be adjusted by time-based market pricing like how airlines do. You get charged less if you order ahead of time, pay a premium if you are in a hurry. This will allow for more planned stocking and distribution, which reduces costs and waste.

Non-seasonal based diet

People are used to get avocados during winter. We pay a price in ecological terms for the transportation of goods from a long distance. This can be adjusted by adding extra cost for food produced further out of our place. This would go to conservation initiatives and agricultural research funds that would provide better solutions for local consumption.

Highly Processed/Convenient Food

People are used to eat their meals from a box. The race to the bottom from the food processors has considerably harm the consumers in terms of health and daily practices. People eat while driving in the highway, walk less, eat more empty calories, eat less macronutrients. Overall, we are eating ourselves to death. This can be adjusted with minimally processed alternatives. The return of the cafeteria. A food processing facility of low to mid range that can produce foods in a daily basis for those who can’t/won’t prepare their food from scratch. New processing facilities closer to the people, more in tune with the context. Add to this, a set of partially-cooked meals that require low effort to complete and still have a great nutritional value.

Second priority to local producers

Local producers should have priority over national industrial complexes.This incentivizes the creation of local food networks which in turn are committed and self-aware to the maintenance and care of the land and the community. I don’t advocate for tribalism but for inclusive local groups that are collaborative and involved in regional and national food networks. This can be adjusted with access to local markets to local producers, giving them a space, voice and access to the tools to modernize and share their operations. The new normal is a close communication with customers, but overall a sense of involvement in the forward progress of the new food system.

A new food system is cooking, and many of us are going to be responsible for shaping it for the next generations. What else do you think we should change before we can have a better food distribution system?

Categories
Food

The supermarket experience is obsolete

In 20 years we will think back of supermarkets and will ask ourselves, why it took us that long to replace it? Was the internet too slow?

The supermarket experience is completely inadequate for the 21st century. Let me walk you to the process – in case you have not visited a supermarket in the last 10 years.

The access experience

You have to transport yourself to a place. If you are driving, you need to plea to the gods to find a parking spot. If you are not driving, you need to make sure you know: how do you plan to exit the place with all the bags at the brink of tearing apart.

If you arrived at the door, you need to go take a shopping car or a basket. Only until the last Pandemia they started to clean the cart handles, but before, who knows? So you pick one, making sure you don’t select the conservative shopping cart (it only turns unapologetically to the right), or the liberal shopping cart (squeaks unless you turn to the left).

The search experience

Now, if you are like me, you go shopping with a plan in mind. You enter, find what you need, go to the cashier and done deal. Good luck with that, if you are trying to find something that is not in the middle row of the aisle. I have to give credit to the real life “Alexa”s – the supermarket clerks – that will try to help you, when they are not flood with customers at the cash register, if that is the case, you are on your own.

You try using the top level boards for the supermarket sections. They expect that you know that tortillas are not in the bread section, but in the corner of something called ethnic foods. But the pita bread, is not in the ethnic foods but in the bread section. You are confused. So you end up walking the whole place a couple of times.

The worst pain, is when you have to go across to supermarket to find the two single things you need to buy for french toasts. They put eggs, milk and bread at the back, so you have to walk thru the aisles and figure if you need something else. The worst User Centric solution ever. Put the milk in the front.

Some people just knows that going to the supermarket counts like cardio, and they walk all the aisles in a zigzag pattern. Enjoyable if you are not alone or sad. Otherwise, why do you care about printed blogs of celebrities (they call those magazines), or cat food, or sugar with water and bubbles?

Sweating and still struggling to direct you shopping cart, you keep your journey.

The discovery experience

You want to find something interesting to help you in your daily life? The supermarket is there to help you. You only have to know exactly what you want. Spicy sauce? Great, we have a whole section, but not all the spicy sauces are there, there are others in the refrigerators and a couple in the famous “ethnic” food section.

What about a bottle of wine? You can only choose by name and price. Filter by region? Filter by rating? Filter by pairing with lamb chops? Good luck with that. You most probably will try to find the nicest label you can afford. Hit or miss. Discovering new products at the supermarket only works as an after thought, you see a shiny label a nice box and you think “uhmm maybe I will enjoy this gluten free, vegan, non-gmo, no added sugar, family owned, organic, fair trade, natural toilet paper”, you don’t know nothing about it, no reviews, no extra information, no way to tell if it actually works. Nothing. But you trust the supermarket due diligence.

The paying experience

Imagine you are in your favorite eCommerce website, and you add all things to your cart. You are ready to pay and at that moment the site tells you that there are four people in front of you. One of those is a 400 items filled cart that will need to be scanned one by one by a person that probably might be new to the job that day and don’t know the code for Grapefruit. Ah, I forgot to mention, everything that is not pre-packaged, needs to be weighted at the register. You know you only want to pay for your ultra strong no-sweat deodorant, but you have to wait.

Then, you discover this website offers an “Express” option for people with 15, or 12, or 10, or 20, or 35 items or less. It all depends, no body can tell. But you go there, and there are only 2 people in front of you. Thank God. Unfortunately, one of those, who bought a canned soup, found it is dented and wants one that is in perfect condition. The cashier now needs to find another clerk to go find the replacement. Hopefully that person knows the supermarket better than you. You are still waiting. Good thing, you are not standing in line.

It’s your turn, and the cashier will do their best to pass your products and pack them into bags as fast as possible, they know you are in a rush. Or not. Who knows, it all depends on the weather and the last number of the lotto.

Now, stop imagining a virtual supermarket. You are now in a real supermarket still in line behind the 400 item person. You are gonna be late. But who cares, they know you went grocery shopping.

The transportation back home experience

You exit the supermarket, either with one bag or twenty. You try to remember where you parked. Find your car and open the trunk. Put everything you bought in there. Then, you are done. You can leave.

Oops, no. There is one more part. The filthy cart must be returned. You are a good citizen so you put it back where it goes, unless you are in a rush, you are late for a dentist appointment, or you are plain out dick. In that case, you leave the cart in the most inconvenient way possible for everybody else. In a planter, in the middle of the road, next to other carts left behind by people like you, anywhere except the place where it needs to go. Is the supermarkets problem.

Then, if you have items that require refrigeration, you know you can’t do anything else but drive as fast as you back home. Otherwise, the ice cream will become sundae or milkshake, the chicken will start to rot, and the fruits will ripe.

The review experience

Don’t tell me that you leave reviews for the items you buy at the supermarket. You go row by row, item by item, leaving a review that will help others to have better information about the product. Nobody does. It is not advantageous for the supermarket to allow that.

So, you go online and find a place to cry your pains. Reddit, twitter, your grandma’s facebook. If the pain is not that hard, you just throw the item away. Hoping to remember not to buy it next time. The supermarket knows you might. They have all that data. You don’t.

You hope at least to win the Monopoly.

The re-stock experience

Now, after a couple of days, or weeks – depends on your budget – you need to get more food. Which items? Almost 90% of the same ones you bought last time. Can you go a have them ready for you? No.

You need to start the process over and over and over. You fill frustrated and highly contempt with the fact that we still live in a time where we haven’t replaced that obsolete system. You write an article with the hopes of venting your anger, mostly because you know the milk is almost over and you already did cardio today.

Categories
Uncategorized

You are replaceable unless you bring value

The current post-industrial – technocratic – era will transform organizations. Before, you (as put nicely by Seth Godin) needed to comply. A set of rules, a book of norms, and 100 page manual. Your job was to follow the rules and punch the card. Now, I am starting to see a new type of organizations based on the value of individual contribution.

An organization that considers its existence as a mere game of building a factory out of humans, will find itself empty and bland. Individuals are the ones that bring unique propositions to the problems that need to be solved. Obviously, I am talking about individuals who are capable and willing to bring in value.

Working in an organization where you are replaceable with the next copy out of the 3d printer just points to a place where you shouldn’t be. You are not being/allowed to be a risk-taker, change-driver, good-seeker. And why is this important?

Organizations that will thrive in the future, are not the ones that brought the factory-industrial model to the future, but that will embrace the diverse, creative and disruptive force of the individual. This will create smaller, cohesive teams, that are problem-solving oriented and motivated. In result, organizations will have longer tenures, easier execution of long-term plans, and a sense of uniqueness that is centered on the contribution of individuals that will be appreciated by the marketplace.

But for that to happen, the incentive needs to be equity. Individuals need to reap the benefits of their contributions. Soon all the repetitive, mundane and physically intense work will be done by robots. But for the creative, risk-taking and empathic solutions, organizations will need to be built around the premise of equity distribution and individual recognition.

If you are an individual, make sure to find the place where you can bring to more value. If you run an organization, start to buy robots and hire Hi-value individual contributors.

Categories
Fiction Writing

Why am I publishing a children’s audiobook series?

[1] – Imagination is key

I am a writer. Easy. Also because I believe that stories are one of the best avenues to share good with the world.

When we share our stories we distribute the good. We are giving away a part of us, that also will become a part of others.

I quote myself. Isn’t it great?

Unfortunately, I am publishing this children’s stories only in Spanish, and will be like that until I can get enough money to pay English speaking creators. It is incredible how a person can charge 20x more for the same Spanish content for it to be done in English. But that’s the game to play when you create for the anglo-speaking market.

I believe audio-stories are a great untapped content. And that kids need to develop their imaginations away from visual stimulus. With those two ideas in mind, I decided to write a Children’s Audio Series that connects with the kids, shares values and promotes their creativity thru engaging stories with great quality.

My hope is that with this stories parents and kids can have conversations and play together. That the stories of Princess Vanilla can entertain and develop kids imagination and give parents a great resource to complement the day to day mentoring of their kids.

Curious data: As you might know, I love food, so in this series all the characters are named after elements/ingredientes used in/for cooking. I am sure you’ll love it.

I will share my thoughts and progress using a Substack that you can suscribe to. That way I can keep my personal blog dedicated to my regular stuff like Why I am not a farmer, Food Distribution Systems or growing domesticated humans

If you want to support this effort, and have the stories in English, you can buy them in Spanish and help your kid by teaching the second most popular language in the world.

[1] Photo by Kristin Brown