ASI W9900771r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#3 March 1987

Section the Artemis Data Book

Moon Mall

[The second in a series of articles on the need to predevelop the SOFTWARE for a Lunar Civilization]
by Peter Kokh

I remember as a young man too many years ago [1955] my first time in Hudson Bay Company ( yes, the original Canadian Trading Co. ) department store in Calgary Alberta. How impressed I was by the great variety of goods imported from all over the British Commonwealth -- an abundance of choices unsuspected by the shopper in Milwaukee's Gimbel's or Schuster's of that era. Things are different now. Today's shopper in any mall in America is confronted with a bewildering variety of offerings from all over the world. No one is limited to the goods and services made in his own city or town. Indeed, to be so limited, even in a great world class city like Chicago, New York, or Montreal, would be quite a come down.

How will it be for the shopper in a lunar or Martian mall the first few decades? The settlements will be small, though growing, and "upports" from Earth's gravity well will be prohibitively expensive. Almost certainly and without exception, they will be restricted to items, and even to mere components of items, that are both indispensable on the new worlds and as yet impossible to manufacture locally. For everything else, the settlers must be willing to make do with local resources and materials as best they can. No one ever said pioneering would be easy. The frontier may be exciting, but like frontiers from time immemorial, it will of necessity have its rough edges.

Will this mean one style, one color only of dishes, for example? One model, one color only for radios, stereos, and television sets? Only one style and color of sofa or chair or dresser? Uniform-like sameness in clothing? Unless we do some resourceful and ingenious planning now the answer might well be yes; and the consumers' paradise of Earth will have no counterpart in the consumers' pits on the Moon and Mars. There will simply be too few people to make more than the simplest variety of goods with no supplemental selection available through the Sears or any other mail order catalog.

Two approaches to this problem suggest themselves: one high tech, one low. For a small factory, changing styles, colors, shapes, etc. of whatever it makes in order to satisfy a variety of tastes usually involves expensive dies, molds, etc., and extensive down-time for setup changes. The challenge here is to design production equipment which is set-up friendly so that limited runs can be made on a dial-a-style or insert-a-card basis with little loss in efficiency. Some modern production facilities on Earth are already being designed in the fashion. I am not privileged to work at one. In this way, just as one can dial a pretty pattern by the turn of a kaleidoscope, a consumer could order a unique set of dishes, for example, or a unique bolt of fabric. At the least, small production runs in each of many styles could be made without extra expense. Without this commitment to design Lunar or Martian factories to produce such kaleidoscopic product lines, life on the new worlds will be very drab.

[In the decade since this was written, computer aided manufacturing techniques have indeed made all this possible.]

Remember, the people back on Earth won't care, and governments will give it bottommost priority. It's up to us to see that such possibilities come to realization.

The second approach which might work well on some lines of goods or be available as an alternative choice to the Lunar or Martian consumer is for the factory to produce (either exclusively or in addition to a regular line) a line of unfinished goods -- ready for the consumer or venturesome craftsman to custom finish for him/herself or for resale. Some examples might be ready-to-glaze ceramic ware, ready-to-upholster furniture frames, and electronics chases sold without cabinets or with unfinished cabinetry, ready to dye, print, or otherwise embellish plain fabric bolts. Such secondary or co-manufacturing or custom craft finishing will likely become an important part of the frontier economy. And the person with crafting skills who can take a common ho-hum product and give it a unique and interesting touch might well enjoy the highest local prestige and social status. Those who do not have -- or refuse to develop -- the talent to custom finish purchased raw goods or who lack the income to pay someone else to put such touches on what they buy, might well be condemned to a home filled with the dull, boring, and commonplace.

Lunar and Martian society will greatly reflect this totally new set of rules in the consumer sport of acquiring a satisfying and personality- expressing collection of goods. On the Moon and Mars will dawn the new golden age of the artisan and craftsman. A "designer" item on these new worlds will mean something quite different from on Earth, for it will signify not a mass produced edition of a product designed by a famous name with high snob appeal, but rather a line of unfinished goods which have been designed to be easily, satisfyingly, interestingly, and kaleidoscopically finishable. And so there will be designer mediums, designer palettes, and designer frames and chases, etc. The designer who leaves the most scope for unique finish-ability will have the most honor.

Prospective settlers may be screened and accepted or rejected not only on the basis of their primary skill and occupation or profession but also on the basis of what they can contribute by their secondary talents, skills, hobbies, and avocations. If the new settlements are to avoid terminal blahs, the population will have to have a very high talent density in comparison with Earth.

We have already pointed out what we must seek to guarantee in the design of production equipment shipped to the Moon or Mars. We must also seek to guarantee a high priority for artistic and craft talent amongst the selection criteria for prospective settlers.

But we can make their lot far easier by doing some experimenting beforehand to develop new means of artistic expression limited to the materials and elements commonplace to the new worlds. Lead, gold, silver, copper, etc., are vanishingly present on the Moon, for example. Thus ceramics cannot use glazes based on the lead oxides; certain kinds of stained glass will not be producible; new forms of jewelry will have to be developed; new stains, and paints, and enamels formulated. Pre-clayed soils will be unavailable for ceramics and water will have to be worked into utterly dry Lunar soils to make fireable clay, etc. If those of use who are into arts and crafts here on Earth take Lunar restrictions as a starting point and through lots of work develop workable new crafts, that will give the colonists a head start. Without such SOFTWARE predevelopment, any Lunar civilization founded on hardware alone will surely suffer a fatal morale collapse. Can you help?

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