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Personal Musings

A catch-all section for contributions that are more personal than project-specfic.

My next couple days...

Having analyzed the Fairfield farmers' market, read through the three articles given to me by Jim and Timlynn, and tied up some loose ends with some postings on the website, I expect the remainder of today and tomorrow to be centered around two goals:

  • Researching and blogging about agent-based simulation platforms
  • --and--

  • Reading "Fields that Dream," "Fields of Plenty," and, as time allows, "The World is Flat." I also hope to continue with "The Story of B" at some point, but that may have to wait.

After doing some reading at

After reading Longitude - What It Means to be an Entrepreneur: The Remarkable Story of John Harrison at, I have a few thoughts on how the content of this blogging relates to our Local Food Economy Game project

"John Harrison stood up to, and held his ground in earnest opposition of, the Powers That Be. In the Big Is Good World, the Powers That Be define the rules of the game and are its referees. It is unbelievably difficult to 'reinvent the game' when competing against those who have that much control over Life As We Know It."


An update on what I've been doing

  • Still trying to get a hold of The World is Flat. Seems to be permanently checked out at the college library...
  • Regarding our "problem" domain, I have been doing some research online on the local food economies of Grinnell and Fairfield. Not surprisingly, given the small size of the two towns, there is little information available on the internet; the two best articles I found are linked in my blog entry "Facts about local food."
  • I e-mailed Jon Andelson about setting up a time to meet with him; I hope to do that this week. When I meet with him, I'll try to get some biographical information that we can use on the website in introducing him as a potential collaborator.

A couple interesting links and a question...

I've been doing some research in the library, and found a couple things that are probably of interest to Jim and Timlynn, but may be of general interest as well.

  • A list of Professor Gordon Bigelow's (author of "Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics," published in Harper's magazine) scholarship is located at:

    I've been scouring the College library looking for any publications, but so far I've been unsuccessful...I'll let you know if anything turns up.

  • The Institute for Social Network Analysis of the Economy ( is very interesting and relevant. I've skimmed over a few of the articles in their resource section; through the links on the site I found an article called "Re-thinking the Network Economy," by Stan Liebowitz, which I will read today.

A general look at the three books

To throw the contents of Mirror Worlds, Serious Play and Linked into two sentences while being ridiculously general..."mirror worlds are a type of simulation that map out the networks of our lives. To understand our world, we must simulate it." To be somewhat less general:

  • In "Serious Play," Schrage says that we need to innovate to understand ourselves and our business. In "Linked," Barabasi writes from a similar vein of thought: we need to map out our networks to truly understand them. Without these maps, we do not understand the complexity of networks (the importance of hubs, the existence of the power laws, etc.)

Thoughts about modeling programs...

A goup of applied researchers at Systems Sciences has developed Economic Simulation Models. This simulation modeling platform looks like it might be interesting to play around with. But I expect that it might be insufficient for the entire project as it is not really a simulation software.

From the website: "The package, or modeling language, permits an analyst to build a network model of an economic system and find equilibrium prices and quantities over time. The network model can include nodes that represent natural resources, conversion processes, markets, and demand centers. Intelligence built into the nodes generates market-driven production, pricing, and capacity expansion decisions for each node that affect the behavior of other nodes in the network."


Some thoughts about the type of simulation that we will be creating

Various thoughts about the content, design, and use of the simulation game:

A few ideas relating to David Gelernter's Serious Play :

  • It would be convenient for the simulation to have a searchable database of all the information contained in it. For example (depending on how specific we make the models), one could search for the "price of apples at McNally's and Walmart."
  • Just a quote from Gelernter relating to the "topsight" that the simulation should give us (p. 183): "Topsight is an elusive goal. The simplest way to get it--the immediate, obvious, child-like way--is to recreate a big scene in little. Then I can soar above it--tower over it; literally see the big picture. Naive, childlike, effective. Microcosms are satisfying becuase they give you the sense of comprehending the whole thing, or understanding how the parts fit together and what it all means."

Some thoughts about Grinnell's food economy

From Wikipedia (,_Iowa)

There are four grocery stores serving Grinnell.

* Hy-Vee Food Stores - Located on the very far southern edge of town. There is no sidewalk or other way for bikers and pedestrians to get to Hy-Vee. Hy-Vee offers drive-up service upon request (you drive to the side of the store and they will load your car with your packages for you). Hy-Vee is open on Sundays.
* McNally's - This locally owned independent store is the most centrally located grocery store in town. It has the widest selection of gourmet food products as well as a large alcohol section. This store caters to the college crowd and to those looking for upscale or smaller-market products. McNally's has carry out boys and they will also deliver. McNally's is open on Sundays.


The World is Flat

Now that I have finished "Field that Dream" and "Fields of Plenty," I will continue with my reading of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat." As I make connections between the book and LFE and/or Sohodojo content, my thoughts will go up here.

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