TED Conversations

Mitch SMith


This conversation is closed.

Sedentary Vs. Nomadic: How can it work?

This is an old question.

How can relations between sedentary and nomadic populations integrate?

We started as hunter-gatherers .. even a troop of baboons can hunt/gather such that they each spend no more than 3 hours a day for survival.

What is it about humans that can be better than baboons? What hours do you put in for survival?

SO we have developed towns and sedentary lifestyles. OK. Can that be saved? Should it be saved?

And if some choose to be sedentary, and some choose to revert to nomadic life - how can they co-exist?

What are the integrative issues? And how might they be resolved?

(edit - to assist the definition of the question: This is about functional community units, not atomised individuals.)


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Sep 26 2013: Marriages across villages was at times seen as 'high treason' and the village boys and youngsters secured their 'potential brides' from any other male candidate abroad, which in many cases led to incestuous related degeneration of health and mental development, as it formed in those times among the ruling class as well.

    In this concern, nomads were seen as potential threat, although they certainly helped here and there to spark for new 'ideas' in closed genetic circles and to recruit for the same into theirs ... :o)

    This phenomena is observable even today and despite the rise in anonymity. It occurs locally around refugee camps or transit camps within the local population if those camps aren't 'encapsulated' out of political reasons, regarding the issue of residence permission.

    This guides me to what I think the worst case future scenario will more likely be. We won't see an increase in nomadism, as this would require the freedom of choice, we are likely to face an increase in refugees, and those triggered by a multitude of reasons of which many won't be 'reversible' anymore.

    Rising seawater levels, infertile lands, shortages of drinking water, famines, riots, civil wars, wars, etc.
    This combined with the downslope of fossil fuels and no sufficient alternatives, of which the tendencies are more than obvious, the usual 'patches' of first aid and development programs won't function any more (in case they did before). We would face the emigration of whole nations, who won't stop at customs for laking a visa and I am not certain for how long mainstream media was able to frame all of them as 'terrorists' to justify our border-defenses to 'Gatling gun' them down in endless numbers ...

    And as the 'fossil force' of the defending 'rich' nations were constantly weakening as well and their 'banners of humanity' crumbling against its very meaning, things may turn even more ugly from there ...

    What nomadism could become in an post 'Mad Max'ian' era, I don't know.
    • thumb
      Sep 27 2013: hi Lejan,

      Many thanks for your insight!

      So it seems fruitful at this point to make a list of likes/dislikes between the groups.
      I think it's best to start with likes/dislikes
      If we start with threats/opportunities cost/benefit. Then we fail to identify sub-conscious reality - and the biological truth contained in it.
      The Renaissance assumed people to be "rational" and failed to identify the biological reality contained in the "irrational".
      We should not make that mistake.
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: Hi Mitch,

        I like to contribute to your list if I can, but so far I am not quite certain about the context in which to put both groups in relation to one another and in what point in time.

        Are we looking at the current situation and for all types of nomads?
        Or are we looking in the past/future of it?
        • thumb
          Sep 27 2013: Well .. all data schema analysis begins with collecting the data.
          After that, one can normalise the data through targeted classification.

          So .. a wild pool of observation can come from any area that yields data - past, present, geographical, anecdotal, empirical, speculative, historical, legendary, popular etc.

          This is where crowd-sourcing can be very powerful - adjoining previous study later allows the new analysis to identify previously unobserved structures - such observations can advance comprehension .. and often does.

          Here, I am crowd sourcing ;)

          I'll open a new comment to collect data. (not a lot of engagement here, but everything helps!)
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: All right then, lets get crowdy ... :o)

        Sedentary = S, Nomadic = N, Likes = L, Dislikes = D

        SL: property, estates, continuity, predictability, security, fences, stone buildings, agriculture, laws, home security, ramparts, ditches, near by castles,

        SD: nomads, property tax, close neighbors,

        NL: freedom (space), security, hospitality, change, save camping grounds, stable weather, open skies, helpfulness,

        ND: settlers, borders, fences, steep slopes, marshlands, quicksand, xenophobia, rough terrain, ditches, deep rivers, torrents, wet season

        to be continued ...

        Note: In many cases the negation or inverting of 'likes' count for 'dislikes' and vice versa.
        • thumb
          Sep 27 2013: Hi Lejan - I've opened a new comment to collect this.

          Perhaps I should re-do the entire conversation thread?
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: No problem, just didn't see the new opening. I'll ft my data in.

        Regarding a new thread, thats up to you, as I am used to non-linear and fragmented data pools ... :o)
        • thumb
          Sep 27 2013: I note that the complexity MOOC is re-starting.

          I only got half-way through on the last one - the netlogo application kidnapped me, and it took about 6 months to digest that into my lifestyle ...
          It's here:
          Well worth enrolling!

          Apart from that .. it is massively fruitful to simply stare at the "logistic" graph ..
          Helps even more to render the formula into a program and understand how it works.
          Much of what is presented to us as logarithmic, is actually logistic when you do the math past the point-of-accumulation.
          Not something that is easily said to those who rely on casual knowledge.
          One could wish for a better audience, but, the results are universally intuited for all those with open minds - all across the spectrum.
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: I just figured, that following your mind experiment in stating what I like/dislike about 'them' collides with my inner directive not to generalize on any group or collective of people.

        I could easily say, that I like town people IF they are friendly, but I can not say, that what I like about town people is, THAT they are friendly. Because that would falsely conclude, that all of them are.

        Would those restrictions ruin your database?
        • thumb
          Sep 27 2013: No.

          It's also got instant results such as you just demonstrated.

          I think I better do the mind experiment in a new TED conversation.

          Gotta adapt to current reality - and it can change radically in one instant.

          Did you get the MOOC enrolment address?

          It's nice to be able to do this kind of stuff so publicly - TED has a "lurker" proportion about the same as any other online forum - only about 1% actually contribute - but the effect is multiplied.

          This is the basis of "memes" - we can play it, or we can game it.
          "Play" is far more enjoyable than "Game" ;)
        • thumb
          Sep 27 2013: BTW - the word "trust" tends to be the resting place for most of social investigation.
          Understanding it as an attractor might be useful in understanding the non-linear components of social "emergence". Economy for instance.
          Most things are so breathtakingly simple that they fly under our radar.
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: Good, so I'll stay tuned for your new TED experiment then.

        Yes, I got your link, thank you! It seems quite interesting, even though I have to admit, that I am pass my high times in higher mathematics, especially that part concerning fractal geometry ... ;o) But if my memory isn't fooling me, those equations enfolded their complexity by iteration, and slow steps I may still be able to follow ... :o)

        But spare me logarithmic scales, as those not only deny any intuitive access, they make even fractals appear to be of linear nature ... :o)

        I am not sure which, if any, multiplication effect TED offers for 'memes', as this is my one and only experience in an online forum, but it certainly opened many playgrounds for me to play on and also to learn while doing so. Because thats what playing is about, isn't it?

        By the way and regarding nomads, a countryman of yours, Tim Cope once did a very interesting documentary about his 3 year journey by horse crossing Mongolia, in which he not only became a nomad, but also came to meet and live with the original ones:

        • thumb
          Sep 28 2013: Hi Lejan,

          I must admit that logarithmic math is barely comprehensible to me, however, it is a way to discern dynamics over massive ranges - from micro to macro.
          The Logistic map is iterative and shows how a system will evolve as the main driver increases. It is also an example of a self-limiting system. It was originally applied to population growth calculations. Not all systems are self limiting - many are mutually limiting systems, but they all seem to result in chaotic behaviour when the drivers pass a certain point (the point of accumulation).
          You can gain a lot of insight when you extrapolate these insights over behaviour observed in many areas - from weather to markets.
          If one can identify a system driver, one can play round with the system using microscopic adjustment. Influence on how people "Frame" their perceptions is one of these critical drivers. TED just happens to have access to one of these critical "nodes". When you get a feel for the "ghost-lines" in chaos images, you can see them at work in media - sometimes it takes a few years for them to emerge globally, but they are discernible if you know how to look for them.
          I will review the documentary link - I will also make some time to review material on Australian aboriginal tribal structure - which was stable and intact up to 200 years ago .. so far I see that cultural compliance to geography is the reason that culture developed in the first place - we forget that at our peril.
      • thumb
        Sep 27 2013: The whole aftermath of the global banking crisis is about 'trust', better to say, the lack of and confidence in it. There was even a time, in which the concept of the 'honest merchant' was more than just a concept. It was actually the 'least common denominator' within any business in those days. But just like in many other fields in our so called developed societies the corrosion of morals is only related to the incentives we allow to be gained in corroding them. About the consequences we can read in the news, if we know how to interpret them.

        My personal experience with 'trust' within my professional and private life was disappointing so far, and I can assure you, that if it comes just in the right timing and magnitude, it does support the idea of isolation. The given increasing numbers of people who experience this modern loneliness may indicate what else we have allowed to corrode in between us.

        A nomad tribe would have already been disintegrated if it was among their people as it is among ours. Australia may still be different, as the history of white immigrants is still young, and so is your solidarity maybe, hopefully as well. Europe just sold theirs by sticking to a currency which does not unite but separates. As usual, everything boils down to business and its cost is our trust...
        • thumb
          Sep 28 2013: Right now I am exploring the missing constraint of tribal unity.
          The assumption that people can form massive unified populations is a deadly mistake.
          If you use the wrong building-blocks you end up with what the old Bible called the "Tower of Babel".
          Unification can only be a unification of tribes. When you try to apply tribal dynamics to personal issues, or personal dynamics to tribal issues, it causes conflict and suffering.
          Trust operates within a tribe - beyond that, one has to use a different measure.
          All of this reduces to the meaning of the word "advantage" - every organism requires sufficient advantage to survive from one moment to the next. At a certain point, excess advantage becomes a chaos driver.
          As social animals, there is a stable balance of advantage between the individual and social levels - this is called "morality". If you shift the advantage morality to the individual it will result in chaos, if you shift it to the community, it will also be chaotic. The correct balance is determined by adaptation to geographic/ecological factors - not human edict.
          In terms of market related trust issues, it helps to look at the works Karl Marx - he identifies the structural fallacies driving much of the economic instability (David Harvey and Richard Wolff are great analysts on this subject) .
          Most of all - "trust" is a continuum from trust to distrust - it directly relates to the continuum of advantage/disadvantage and operates in the individual/tribal balance of morality.
          When you introduce the boundary of the stable tribal unit - you will see that morality does not operate beyond that boundary, and that markets/economies also behave differently inside and outside of a tribe.
          These factors are missing from global discourse - and no progress will be achieved until the reality of our tribal nature is fully acknowledged.
      • thumb
        Sep 28 2013: Hi Mitch,

        without doubt, logarithmic math is of much use, but for me to understand, to 'feel' what's going on in the numbers, I rather use a zoom function on linear coordinate systems. Luckily, todays software allows for just that to visualize in real time ... ;o)

        What you say about tribal structures sounds very interesting, even though I have troubles at times to understand you in detail. Here it would certainly help to meet in a good pub one day to sort things out for me over a stout or lager, or two ... :o)

        What I don't see at the moment, is why 'massive unified populations' could not be formed out of unified. yet also self-regulating tribes? Germany for this part, is a collection of 16 separate states, which in themselves are collection of different regions, districts, etc., which themselves are a collection of towns, villages, etc. Any 'zoom level' has certain similarities and differences, but what unites them is a shared belief and agreement in a certain set of rights and rules, which - at least so goes the story - are democratically and dynamically reviewed and adjusted if necessary. And as it covers about 81 mio. it was to be considered a 'massive unified population'. So far it can be said, that at least among those separate states, no civil conflict, no war has broken out,which was way different in the past and before the forerunner of modern Germany was formed. Unfortunately, this didn't prevent Germany to fight their neighbors, yet regarding the 'inside' it seems to have worked out some how.

        I think the reason for conflict in between groups is related to 'identification' and 'differentiation / exclusion' and this regardless their sizes, but it seems those mechanism are inbuilt in our human nature as they keep emerging throughout our history.

        As I am not familiar with the history of native Australians, it would be interesting to know how different tribes behaved towards each other. Has there been violence or did they coexist in peace?
        • thumb
          Sep 28 2013: I think the German social model is the most successful one at the moment.
          For instance, Germany is the first nation to begin serious energy-networking between distributed renewable sources. very impressive!
      • thumb
        Sep 28 2013: David Harvey and Richard Wolff are certainly worth to study, what I already did. And to my own surprise as I didn't expect this, I found a highly intelligent and active group of concerned citizens in the hacker community in Germany, namely the Chaos Computer Club. Theses people really care about the true meaning of democracy! Great resource, great people ... great tribe! :o)
        • thumb
          Sep 28 2013: Tribal affiliation is obvious in the internet .. observing them is what inspires me to investigate further.
          Hackers are a great power .. tribalisied hackers are a damn good idea - so long as there is a strong "totem" a tribe cannot be so easily seconded by national or criminal war-lords.
      • thumb
        Sep 30 2013: Hi Mitch,

        the German social model is fading faster than ever. Germany today ranks lowest in Europe in social fairness regarding education, which determines the future of many generations. As everywhere, the 'middle class' is eroding away as more and more people can not support a decent living for their families by a single, permanent job, as they could in the past. And the Euro-Desaster is going to force even stronger austerity measures on the people, as it is in whole Europe at the moment.

        At the moment Germany still is on the winning side within the given crisis, because we do not allow Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and others to free themselves off the Euro and thereby devalue the dept they have at German banks. And to make things even worse, we allowed whole Europe to enslave their people to pay for all the risks and losses of the private financial sector and to ensure their business in the future. This enslavement got installed by the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism, which only stabilizes the influence of the usual 1%. And Germany had a driving force, if not THE driving force in this to happen. We sold democracy over private interests!

        This 'energy change', as we call it, was triggered exclusively by Fukushima, as if we were lacking enough imagination what the term 'worst case scenario' really means. Shortly before this incident, Angela Merkel, our chancellor, was even about to prolong the operational approval for our oldest nuclear power plants for decades, as if no danger was related to this technology whatsoever. Mrs.Merkel is a physicist by education by which it is unlikely that Fukushima was necessary for her to understand the scope of risks related to this technology, which only reveals the opportunistic character of her sudden change in mind and politics.

        How much arrogance is hidden in between the lines about the lessons learned in between Fukushima and Chernobyl, as Soviet technology was seen as inferior as 'their' system in comparison ...
      • thumb
        Sep 30 2013: Due to our arrogance and lack of imagination, we needed Fukushima to blow up, which was build and maintained by the Japanese and which are respected in Germany for their technology, for us to realize, that there are alternative sources for energy, which doesn't endanger whole generations in case of an accident.

        Surprise, surprise, Germany finally learned something in risk management in 2011 ... but lets wait and see what will come out of this...

        I am supporting the decision made to free ourselves off nuclear energy asap and to substitute it by renewable energy. It is going to be a difficult task and so far it has been put 'on hold' due to the recent election, as the consequences of it are not always a popular topic to talk about while campaigning.

        What has been settled already is, that 'highly energy depended' industries will be freed of their contribution in covering rising energy prices, as their usual argument has been put forward to remain 'competitive' in global markets, which therefore is crucial as an exporting nation.

        But what makes it impossible to combine their contribution dynamically in relation to their annual benefits, is beyond my understanding but fits the usual tendencies to protect those beautiful 'job creators' .... :o)

        The infrastructure necessary to realize this 'energy change' will be pricey and so far its seems, that the tax-payers alone are going to cover it. If the European economy crisis is going to stop that change in its tracks remains to be seen, but there is a high risk that this is going to happen, the very moment Germany gets affected by this crisis as well. We'll see ...

        I for my part am willing to pay more for my electricity bill, as long as I know the energy is green and sustainable and that I am not subsidizing the profits of private companies which have been freed of their share to make this energy change happen.
        • thumb
          Oct 1 2013: This is one reason why I am now looking at tribal dynamics.
          The tribe represents a distributed power schema - by default.
          It distributes everything, but acknowledges a limited collective.

          The limit of collectivism represents a major rift between left and right wing politics - a rift that is healed when you introduce the tribal limit as the upper point of collective advantage for humans.

          But that leaves inter-tribal dynamics largely unexplored .. so far exploration has been assuming city-state or nation-state boundaries.
          I think that there might be value in reviewing the old explorations from the time of tribes - i.e. the old testament, the Quran and whatever literature came out of the Mongol empire.

          So .. more on the reading list :)

          Just now I'm a bit distracted with the meme experiment .. it is based on this, and other conversations, The release of the IPCC report made it important to act quickly -
          and I'm keen to see it develop!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.