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December 28, 2013

Straight is Top Down

By Rob Kall

I'm on a tiny backwater island.. The roads are crazy. They go Up and down big hills, with wild twists and turns. Driving three miles takes 15-25 minutes. I tell the cab driver how scary these roads are. He replies, "We think that your giant expressways are scary. And a realization slaps me in the face. Curving, winding, up and down roads are bottom up. Straight roads are top-down. The insight expands.

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www.flickr.com/photos/10710442@N08/3425859361/: Long & Winding Road" alt="From www.flickr.com/photos/10710442@N08/3425859361/: Long & Winding Road" width="300">

I'm on a tiny backwater island ... The roads are crazy. They go up and down big hills, with wild twists and turns. Driving three miles takes 15-25 minutes. I tell the cab driver how scary these roads are. He replies, "We think that your giant expressways are scary."

And a realization slaps me in the face. Curving, winding, up and down roads are bottom up. Straight roads are top-down. The insight expands. Straight is top down. Rounded, curves and fractals are bottom-up. Winding roads respect nature and flow with it. Straight highways demolish nature and communities.

My friend Dustin points out that straight roads take top-down central planning and they make for faster, more efficient travel. He's right.

But they also encourage centralization as opposed to decentralized, local living and doing business. Straight roads are factors that erode localization.

Straight is rare in nature, particularly living nature. Even a horizon is really an arc of a giant curve. And the needles of sea urchins, shafts of feathers and quills of porcupines, echidnas and hedgehogs are dead keratin, not living flesh, but even these are arcs. Life is curved.

When we create THINGS with straight lines and sharp angles we are imposing top-down structures.

Back in the sixties and seventies, there were hippies and straights. Straights went with the system, followed all the rules and lived top-down lives of normality -- in the materialist, social milieu. Hippies challenged rules and questioned authority.

In today's world it is often easier to embrace straight lines. Top-down, centralized mass production makes straight things because they are cheaper and easier. Those straight parts lead to straight products, straight architecture.

Researchers have found that a preference for curves is wired into the brain. Straight lines actually increase the activation of the amygdala -- the part of the brain that signals fear or threat.

Benoit Mandelbrot used mathematics to explain the fractal geometry of nature. Fractal patterns re-iterate at multiple levels of viewing. Now that's bottom up.

How do you apply this idea? Straight lines signify a conflict with nature. They may suggest some authoritarian decision to disrupt the natural order, to chop up or demolish existing local communities and neighborhoods. When you see straight lines, beware. Thinnk about the systems they've interfered with. Think about the top-down powers who have decided that they were worth subjecting a previously curved and probably fractal locality or thing to.

It may seem to cost more to create with curves and fractal characteristics. But most top-down, technological, modern construction and manufacturing practices ignore the costs that affect people and communities. Add them into the mix and those "savings" may quickly disappear.

I'm writing a book about Bottom-up. This will be a chapter in it. I'd love your thoughts, arguments, suggestions and insights on this.

I'm adding some notes from a TED talk:

Daniele Quercia, in a TED talk titled Happy Maps, shares how he discovered, after a month driving the shortest route that his GPS mapped for him, he took an alternate route that was much prettier, quieter and more pleasant. That set him on a tech path which led him to develop a new approach. He did a bottom-up crowd sourcing platform-- a web game-- a mapping project, asking many people which of two pictures looked more relaxing, more beautiful, which made them more happy. Using the data from this he worked with colleagues putting together maps -- "a cartography weighted for human emotions"-- that were a bit longer, but more beautiful, more quiet or which made them more happy.
Quercia observes that the shortest path can "rob people of fully experiencing the city in which they live." He wraps up saying, "If you think danger is dangerous, try routine. It's deadly."



Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 


To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.


Follow Rob on Twitter & Facebook. His quotes are here

Rob's articles express his personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

Join the conversation:

On facebook at Rob Kall's Bottom-up The Connection Revolution

and at Google Groups listserve Bottom-up Top-down conversation

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