Photo: Jay Springett
Vinay Gupta is a man between worlds, and he’s got a lot of arms. Born to Scottish and Indian parents, he was programming from a young age. But looking back on the advent of web-culture in the late 90s, he found that he wasn’t satisfied with the thought of sitting around on .com cash and helping to empower the same old corrupt systems of power and influence just because they’d now found homes online.
No, no. Vinay packed up and went west to the American desert. There he did work with the Rocky Mountain Institute (he was on the editorial team for Small is Profitable and Winning the Oil Endgame by Amory Lovins et.al.), spent years meditating and learning Nepalese magical practices, and found himself on the playa trying to live out of a cardboard box. That struggle with the box lead him to make observations about a sort of pixelated version of the yurt, that ancient and highly efficient house of the high Mongolian desert. Thereby: the hexayurt.
Now it’s been ten years of struggle for Vinay, and he’s shown his invention (and the many conclusions that follow from it) to .biz high-rollers, .mil doves, and .org worldchangers. He has become a worldchanger. We caught up by email in October. Read the rest
The hexayurt is an update on Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome and is a sturdy, affordable, easy-to-build temporary shelter. The geometry has been adjusted slightly to make it easier to build domes from materials like plywood, insulation, plastic, cardboard and more. The hexayurts are made from only one kind of triangle: an 8' x 8' isosceles triangle, rather than the strangely-shaped triangles which are standard for Fuller-style geodesic domes. They are not strictly geodesic, either, but it doesn't seem to matter much in practice. The slightly stiff, angular lines look a lot like any other dome.
The most common place to see hexayurts is at Burning Man. The first one was built there in 2003, and was only a little bigger than a tent. There now range in size from 50 to nearly 500 square feet. A typical year at Burning Man will see a hundred or so of the silver huts lined up on the playa. Read the rest
Crisiscamp London co-founder Vinay Gupta discusses his "hexayurt" project -- as seen in the Worldchanging book -- in light of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, and how relief tents are a "bandaid on a gunshot wound":
Relief tents are a lie: they last for a year. By the time the tent has rotted and the people are homeless again, the eyes of the media have moved on to some other disaster, and everybody says the situation is fine. "Transitional sheltering" is supposed to take over from the tents, but it's always, always, always too little too late. Nobody can afford a thousand bucks a family anyway. Not for all of them. NGOs, being fairly small compared to the size of the problem, generally count the successes rather than the failures anyway.
(Thanks, Mark!)Previously: Haiti: HOWTO set up a plug-and-play hospital - Doctors Without ... Haiti: News roundup, one week after earthquake Boing Boing Cruise ship docks at private beach in Haiti for barbeque and water ... Haiti, HAARP, and conspiracy theorists Boing Boing Spherical video of Haiti Boing Boing Haiti: Inflatable Hospital photo gallery Boing Boing Haiti Earthquake Update: AIDG's Catherine Lainé, live from Haiti ... Haiti: Update from Doctors Without Borders team in Port-au-Prince ... Read the rest
Vinay Gupta has a fascinating article on WorldChanging that characterizes limited liability corporations as a form of government subsidy (because otherwise, these companies would have to take out expensive liability insurance). Gupta posits that thhis creates a "perverse incentive" to do bad things, like pollute, and wonders aloud what would happen if LLCs were phased out:
What if we phased out limited liability? Suppose, for example, we made shareholders liable for up to 1% of their assets in corporate bankruptcy cases - you can lose up to 1% of your net worth to cover the unpaid debts of corporations in which you own stock. Would that change shareholder behavior to less risky investments? Would it cool the economy - or increase corporate responsibility at no cost to the tax payer?
Could regulating the degree of investor protection become one way of pulling corporations back into line when corruption becomes rife? Would ENRON have happened if shareholders had been even partially liable?
I'm not enough of an economist to really understand the implications of this idea, but I'd like to open the floor up to discussion: is viewing limited liability as a subsidy to the investor a valid way of thinking about it, and is reducing that subsidy to the investor a plausible way of making our economy a little more risk-averse and therefor environmentally responsible?