Intentional communities are groups of people living together for a common purpose. Building a successful intentional community requires us to leverage our collective resources, knowledge, and experience in order to thrive and grow. A big part of this is having access to the right information at the right time. It’s also critical to select and define which ideas and content fit with your goals and which don’t. While including a copy of Adam Smith or Ayn Rand may benefit your library as cautionary tales, it’s important to focus on cultivating a rich landscape of knowledge and information that actively benefit and improve the community. One of the main points of building these communities is to increase the amount of time people have for leisure and self-reflection and personal development. We must therefore provide lots of good information that benefits the people who consume it.
Why do intentional communities need libraries?
Cyberpony Express started as a project proposal for an off-grid internet connecting our communities together to share knowledge and information and communications without relying on fragile internet and telecom infrastructure. It’s still a work in progress but compiling a library of valuable offline content has been one of the main goals from the beginning. These libraries form a decentralized web of repositories of valuable information which can be distributed on-site via wifi without the need for an ongoing internet connection.
The goal here is partially to survive any potential infrastructure collapse while preserving important information, but also because most off-grid communties are truly off the grid; there is no way of accessing the outside internet or even the telephone networks, so giving people access to information on-site is a critical way of improving off-grid communities in the long-run, even without considering the existential threats to society and civilization.
Having access to reliable information is essential when building an intentional community. Libraries provide an invaluable resource for understanding and researching topics related to building and managing a successful intentional community. With the Cyberpony Express library, people will have easy access to all the information they need in one place, without needing to connect to the internet. This library will contain everything from reference materials such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses to educational and vocational materials geared toward both adults and children. It will also contain entertainment materials such as movies, music, and games.
Limited but similar library projects
There are a number of similar projects by groups and individuals with similar goals of compiling information for individual doomsday preppers, but I haven’t found anything focused on communities trying to start living sustainably now. Here are a few examples of existing projects;
Ardbark: This is a great website full of valuable books and information about permaculture, prepping, etc. It doesn’t have much to say about many of the other important topics for a community library but most everything on here is valuable information that can be incorporated into a more holistic library.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina: 600GB of history books spanning the whole of human history and prehistory.
Encyclopedias: I have collected encyclopedias since I was a kid. I have a whole library of complete sets of various encyclopedias full of information which is often not as up to date as something like wikipedia but nevertheless provides valuable context and background about the world and its history.
Library at the End of the World: This is a large google drive full of prepper books and documents. It’s an interesting and valuable example of many topics that would be beneficial to this library.
Loeb Classical Library: A library of all the major classical texts from the ancient greek and roman worlds made easy for people to read today.
/r/PrepperFileShare: This is another good example of a lot of documents and information that would be a valuable but incomplete addition to a community library. Most of this kind of content does add value, but it generally doesn’t address things like education on life sciences, history of world literature, etc. which are also important topics to cover in a community library.
Variorum Collected Studies: fifty years and over a thousand volumes of articles by leading scholars on the topic of their expertise.
What is the Cyberpony Express?
The Cyberpony Express is a distributed knowledge management system (kms) and long-distance communications platform which serves as a decentralized set of repositories of valuable information which can be synchronized across great distances and then distributed locally via wifi without the need for any ongoing internet connection. This system is being engineered to facilitate point-to-point mesh networking to synchronize the KMS repository as well as facilitating communications between the lands in case of external infrastructure problems.
Leveraging AI to create the initial hierarchy of library contents
We use a lot of AI to build our projects. We asked it to help organize the initial folder hierarchy for the library in order to make sure that all the information in this library can be easily accessed by users, and to make sure we didn’t miss anything or forget any important topics. It also helps with a lot of the code and hardware development around building the long-range wesh network to distribute and synchronize the information.
Here is the initial folder hierarchy we came up with. Personally I think this is a great hierarchy, and while I’m sure it will expand and evolve over time, I think it’s a really great start.
—Reading & Writing Comprehension & Appreciation
—Grammar & Spelling
—Music Theory & Composition
—Arts & Crafts
—Theater Arts & Dance
—Mental Health Awareness
—Addiction Recovery Resources
—Reading & Writing
—Grammar & Spelling
—Marketing & Advertising
—Management & Leadership
—Accounting & Bookkeeping
—Sales & Customer Service
—Coding & Programming
—Software Development & Design
—Nutrition & Dietetics
—English Language Learners (ELL)
—Modern Foreign Language (MFL)
—Natural Disaster Preparedness
—Renewable Resource Management
—Post Keynesian Economics
–Life Skills (e.g. self-care, communication, etc.)
—Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
—Organizational Strategy and Planning
—Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
—Interpersonal Relations & Communication
—Personal Financial Literacy
—Investment Theory & Practice
–Politics & Government
—Political Ideologies & Analysis
—Governmental Structures & Policies
–Building Construction and Repair
–Carpentry and Woodworking
–Mechanics and Automotive Repair
–Herbalism and Holistic Medicine
Creating the folders
I had the Github Copilot AI read through the entire site and this blog post and crease this script which can be run to create all the folders in the hierarchy.
Organizing the content
I don’t want to be a librarian; I just want to dump important documents and files into a folder and have the AI decide where to put them and organize the library on its own. To that end, I created a pipeline where I feed the entire contents of this site into an LLM, and then give it the filename and contents of new documents and allow it to decide which folder to put it in. This is much simpler and easier than having a person working on sorting documents 24/7 and we are able to get a lot more work done very quickly.
This is something I had already built to help organize my meme library, and it’s something I’m working towards getting cleaned and polished enough to share with others. If anyone really wants to see it now, I’m happy to share it, but there are so many esoteric resource issues and environment-specific workarounds, that it really isn’t ready for sharing. Getting the librarian to the point of being a free, releasable AI tool is one of my major goals in the coming weeks and months.