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Coastal Mapping by Commons

Coast in any geographical region, are the important areas with which the ocean (sea) and the land come together to create a completely bio-diversity rich and culturally long standing social communities. Coast are also through which nations connected each other as primary means of trade through shipping, and thus in many ways are the entry points of goods and instantiating points of logistics and transport. Since Neo-liberal area, free-trade policies that are in force in many nations globally, coasts are also increasingly becoming the places of exploitation, violence, alienation, hyper-consumption based fisheries disappearance, market based production techniques, non-seasonal synthesised demands for fisheries all round the year, etc… are all some of the most influential parameters that needs to be considered to create resistance and to initiate conservation, restoration practices of both livelihood and biodiversity.

This situation has complex ecological and social connections, which pushes to resist any exploitative policies, implementations, mechanisms, construction of industrial facilities like ports, factories, desalination plants, industrialised salt and shrimp factories, etc…. Any landscape, today has the chance of conservation by building rapid scientific and ecological awareness using historical narration of facts, stories, memories and enriching the local population with the knowledge with idea of securing the commons, measuring, and creating self sustaining practices to engage in a bargaining position with the market as well as the state, and in addition to the global capitalism.

Thus any enclosure can be resisted by securing the commons through self measurement, evaluation and control. For instance, in the case of coast, mapping becomes a huge skill and resource that needs to be acquired by the coastal communities by organising themselves. Learning of skills to map their own commons which they use for day to day activities like ship parking, gear house, auction centres, drying areas, knitting areas, sport, festive areas, burial grounds, etc…. This measurement has to happen at constant phase - periodically by the local communities with self evaluation strategies notifying themselves about the change happened since last measurement or histories of measurement - which will help them think to take corresponding unified action.

In this sense, it becomes our responsibility to share the required tools, skills, practices and learn their practices of fishing, navigation to re-innovate certain tools and techniques to suit their needs. This becomes both mutual re-skill exercise that involves sharing of practices, culture and thus appreciation and wider dissemination of each others necessity at times of emergency and need shall be understood.

What needs to be known ?

  1. What is the area of coast ?
  2. What are the colloquial names of the coastal ranges ?
  3. What are all the regions (districts, villages, hamlets) covered in the coastal range ?
  4. How the coast is zoned according to inter-tidal zonation ?
  5. What are all the gears used for coastal production ?
  6. What are all the products produced usually ?
  7. What kind of seasonal changes they encounter ?
  8. What kind of languages, vocabulary they commonly use - that resemebles current scientific understanding of natural phenomena ?
  9. What technologies they current use ?
  10. What is their social composition ?
  11. How Men and Women organize their labour contribution ?
  12. What is the state of Education ?
  13. What is the state of Health Care ?
  14. What do they have to save themselves from disaster, emergency conditions ?

What Sea Farming Fishers & Knowledge workers share in common ?

Upon observing the above comparison chart, one can understand how there is a difference in fishing methods & process (means of production) in practice differs strikingly between commercial fishing and small scale artisan fishing. All free software activists immediately will recognise how production of data and code are different from corporate lead projects to community based collaborative projects. In both the cases the methods and practices are completely against each other. The former has profit making, exploitative, mining as primary agenda, while the later has livelihood, symbiotic lifestyle and production.

Interestingly many socially participatory open projects in contemporary knowledge domains such as free software, open data, open hardware designs, algorithm making, open designs, etc… have always used “Ship building” analogy. For instance, linux kernel and GNU ecosystem building all these years are considered as a huge ship in making with participation and contribution of source code from all over the world. Even when such analogies were used in popular conversation, debates, etc.. both software making and fishing in sea are have not connected very much.

There are some works on using free software, maps by fishers for sea/marine uses

Some other projects like :

can also be put to use for both land, coast, and ocean usage if proper features, data are made available.

Thus upon exploration we can see that both the communities who seem not to have any direct relationship, now revealed to have some common culture of understanding and producing information overlapping in the navigation, maps and instrument areas. Another important overlap is that both communities have always continuously strive for commoning, use commons for recursively maintaining the commons. Both the commons are being alienated through exploitative capitalistic tactics and strategies. The unique commonality between is that both use commons to reinforce commons further. This culture of commoning must be continued in order to preserve the livelihood, social resistance against enclosure of commons, biodiversity etc…

This brings us to further question, on how to do it ? where to shart ? and what else can be produced/innovated by the knowledge workers who can able to produce algorithms, instruments, softwares, and also assist in generating data commons from the fisher folk itself. For instance :

  1. Better long distance capacity antennas
  2. NMEA compatible protocols for data communication
  3. Maps that are localized in vocabulary, measurements and meaning
  4. Resource sharing for Resource governance
  5. Live Tracking of Boats, SOS
  6. Water proof, Salt proof electronics and dash boards with Charts, Maps for Navigation
  7. Pressure measurement, monitoring & control for sea divers
  8. Coastal common mapping for securing against enclosure.

Assertion of :

Commons (land, water, culture, utility) through :

commons (landuse, wateruse, ecology services…) by :

commons (locality first participation) using :

commons (map labour, tech., skill)

is a socio-political exercise to start with people in coastal villages.

As knowledge commoners we can realize that we can do so much innovation in this field. It would be an act of solidarity as well as a good intellectual as well as an activism exercise, further instrumenting free software principles for social good, for working class, for marginalized. We can start with mapping the optimal administrative unit which can be scaled by a team of mappers, field survey practitioners, and whenever possible domain experts such as anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, economists, technologists, historians, etc… Establishing a social connection with the local youth becomes inevitable and must be smooth for long term plans. Potentially free computing movements like us can ask for grounds to disseminate the socially participatory tech. building in local schools and colleges. For instance, Continuous Avalanche Mapping (CAM), Community Mesh Networking (CMN), etc…

Continuous Avalanche Mapping

In otherwords a workflow to inspire mapping in local youth, there by conducting the mapping skill between generations with political awareness of commoning - yields a continuously monitored changes in the vicinity of the villages serving a common database of records as soon as it happens. The local youth must ideally become the observors, monitors of enclosing forces in the name of development, religions, etc…. It must be constructed and delivered in a way that the exercise of mapping must not allow for internal social fragmentation or stratification. Participation from all ages and genders can happen when approached through institutions like schools and panchayats. Ideally, we must expect that the youth in the village will be contributing to OSM and local geo portal the changes they observe through photo proofs, audio, etc… by busing their android mobile phones with applications like Street complete that are easy to learn and gamified to occupy leisure time. The local governance must also able to recognize the mapping effort and encourage it as a socially vital activity.

To all these happen, reliable technology, workflow, support community and data are needed to start with.

1. Collaborative Mapping

Mapping a village or any region has to be engaged partly social and partly technical. The survey skills required for mapping have nowadays optimized and easy to do when engaged through a method called “participatory survey” instead of a more conventional bureaucratic style “surveyor” responsibility and power. This method provides mapping with the following benefits :

  1. local participation ensures every utility, amenity, commons mapped precisely : Iterative Participation
  2. error in mapping will be reduced if mapped by more than one “surveyor” : Error Reduction
  3. revealing connections and patterns between places of cultural and historical significance : Maps that record stories
  4. share the region for mapping based on priority notified by the local community : Cup caking
  5. youth engagement will enable easy knowledge, skill sharing along with political awareness : Knowledge & Practice
  6. provides youth and local elders with a sense of ownership and broadened view of the place : Ownership & Responsibility

The following Free Software tools will be really helpful :

sa-cmc.txt · Last modified: 2021/03/29 05:05 by cosmo