Free Learning Exchange

1970, 1996, 2009

Deschooling: Universal Information Network: FLEX: The Free Learning Exchange,
founded July 1970 (incorporated in NYC 1971)
Reported at 1996
Summarized on the InfoAll blog 2009

Freedom of Information

The Paul Knatz chronology at censored report[ed] the purpose of my life as being intended to transform society. My incipient pieces on civilization (AKA: kleptocracy) suggest a duality, even a contradiction, between civilization as we’ve known it (i.e., kleptocracy) and civilization as we must come to know it. My writing has tried (and thus far failed) to transform our spiritual and intellectual being. Founding FLEX

in New York City [1970], was the central, defining act of the political aspect of my life.

The not-for-profit institution was incorporated in New York State [1971].

The ConceptFLEX was designed to use cybernetics to further the democratization of information storage and exchange: initially, for the purposes of education; eventually for all possible purposes related to the informational empowering of free individuals.

Thinking the world together

The Educational Institution

  1. FLEX invited all repositories of tools associated with learning to advertise their holdings together with specifics of availability. Libraries, lecture halls, instrument rentals …
  2. FLEX invited all persons competent to teach a skill to register that competence together with fees expected and experience teaching it. A list of awards and prizes was allowed; certificates and degrees, disallowed. Quality control was a function of #4 below.
  3. FLEX invited all individuals interested in a topic to register that interest. Information was exchanged such that registrants could self-group, forming activities from a bull-session to a class, to a seminar, engaging lecturers, experts, graders … as appropriate.
  4. A.Registrants of Parts I & II were invited to comment on the qualifications of other registrants in the same field, the results published.
    B.Consumers of the skills and opportunities of Parts I & II were invited to comment on their experience with the resources, the results published.

Facilitate: don’t regulate.

2013 06 12 The above duplicates as exactly as I could Ivan Illich’s design for learning networks as expressed in his 1970 book, Deschooling Society. Note that it is the foundation for what we now call an “internet”.
I had been waiting for modem and satellite transfer of information since 1960. By the late 1960s I was writing stories where money had been replaced by satellite-fed credit statements, where groups of strangers rapidly became intimate by voluntary preference data bases: I like to kiss: women: on the mouth, on the breast … I prefer blonds …

Let’s note the diction of the name and elucidate connotations as well as denotations:

As in freedom of choice, as in political freedom, as in free marketplace;
not “free” as in “free ride” or “free lunch.”
What we all do as living creatures, what we all must help each other with as social creatures,
a process, not a thing; not “education” which has been degenerated into a commercial and institutional “product” like a Big Mac,
not “school” which restricts how and when we learn as well as what it costs, controlling and ever raising the price, irrespective of quality.
What we all do as social creatures, what we must all do better:
the more so as we have let our institutions degenerate into
cancerous parodies of their purported purposes;
but not limited to our sorry-ass, neo-feudal tool, the monetary economy.
Additional Implications
From the beginning, it was the published intention of FLEX

Free Learning Exchange

to expand into FIX:

Free Information Exchange

(2011 10 04 Note that so much of what we’re familiar with today, forty-one years later, Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, EBay … FaceBook … is implicit in FIX! You could have had in then, and cheap: and free! un-manipulated.
Of course the government could have stolen it then, instead of waiting and then plagiarizing it.)

  1. Index all cooperating material resources: not just bookstores, libraries, and lecture halls;
    but clothing stores, vegetable stands, automotive dealers, fish mongers, fishing piers, shipping piers … everything not excluded to the public.
    Not just for the town, city, or county; but world-wide!
  2. Index all voluntary human resources: not just teachers;
    but healers, legal advisors, machinists, mechanics, electricians, plumbers …
    Again: world-wide.
  3. Match all interest peers: not just for learning;
    for walking in the park, for discussing the election, to see a movie together, for jumping in the sack … anything.
  4. A. Peer review
    B. Consumer review.

Do away with school,
FLEX is enough.

Free is still free:Exchange is still exchange;

But the word learning expands to

Information: Who’s who, what’s what, where are they, and
what do they demand in return?
Not Gregory Bateson’s nor Claude Shannon’s deep definitions of information
(see Macroinformation)
merely information as we are all familiar with it:
addresses, phone numbers, services and products offered, feedback on those services and products …

Harvard, Columbia, and Yale Colleges came first: their universities grew up around them. Columbia University may in part administer my own Columbia College, but the College is the parent and remains the soul. FIX may have come to administer FLEX, but FLEX would forever, had you supported your own best interests, been the heart.

Do away with government FIX is enough

My home page is intended to be made up of bite size pieces. This is not just because our culture has so shortened the attention span of all but the most dedicated scholars; I want those scholars too to get the gist in a glance. The supporting modules deal with different aspects of the whole.

In the 20th Century the United States ran it’s democracy by 18th-century technology
while the industrial-military complex ran itself by 20th-century technology.
As cybernetics developed who in Washington said,
“Gee, we could use this to upgrade democracy: get rid of the political middlemen”?
Such thoughts come seldom and only from outside the fraternities of middlemen.
(People like Illich and me get booted out of such fraternities.)
Both learning and democracy belong in the public sector.
And the public sector must be taken away from
and kept away from
That’s the only way it could be kept away from the corporations.
We had the chance in 1970. That chance is now gone: forever.


Civilization as we Must come to know it:
We must transform civilization, that is, if mankind is to leave a record in the universe of having been anything but a malignant tumor on an otherwise mostly benign biosphere.
My piece on civilization linked from the above file is still far from complete, but the implications are more and more spelled out throughout this site. Human chauvinism, the idea that everything is for us, that we depend on nothing but ourselves and our magical destiny, must go. We need to temper Christianity and all political -isms with a little Taoism.

FLEX logo:
The FLEX logo was designed by Bob Price. Bob’s wife Gretchen was also an occasional FLEX volunteer. Bob once said he wanted to write my biography. Bob, I wish you had. But I’m doing the best I can on it myself: right at

Cybernetic Networking

2006 03 07

I’m just catching up via DVD on James Burke’s Connections2 series from the BBC. I loved the original series in 1979 but had missed the second installment. Burke traces connections among the punch-hole card programming of the French weavers and the punch-hole card program innovations of the US census takers: and thus, the founding of IBM. Information could be related to mechanics, then could be abstracted by electronics. Government, through the vision of the occasional brilliant contractor or employee, saw cybernetic applications first for the census, then for the military. The census guy founded IBM. Burke then relates how in 1953 Blair Smith of IBM met C. R. Smith, president of American Airlines. The booking of airline reservations was limited by how many people could sit around the file system and use it. IBM saw how the military SAGE project applied to bookings and developed SABRE. The rest is history: business got computerized.
What Burke doesn’t relate, what no one but pk drawing relates, is how in 1970 Ivan Illich saw how SAGE, SABRE … could be applied to education, potentially freeing the public of the school system. In the early Renaissance schools were an efficient way to share resources: the guy with a rare document could read it aloud while a number of interested parties could sit before him, copying. The number was limited to human architecture of the time and to human acoustics. (Could all those people in the back really hear Gandhi’s unamplified voice?) Mechanical printing obliterates those acoustic and architectural limits. Electronic computers obliterate the mechanical limits of the press. In 1970 pk heard Illich, saw deschooling as the satellite-aided SABRE-type internet he’d been dreaming of for a decade, saw such an internet as what the public needed to do its own bookings, publish its own information: make the public independent of school AND business AND government: a true democracy, a true free market. Illich talked about cybernetic community bulletin boards; pk wanted satellite connections for every community bulletin board.
But: the buck stopped with the military and with American Airlines. Instead of funding our own internet we swallow the one shoved down our throats: driven by commercial hysteria.

The Buck Stops Here
Don’t forget that “buck” is a term from poker. The deal is supposed to pass from player to player. The buck is a physical token used to indicate who will deal the cards next. Passing the deal is convivial and frustrates attempts to monopolize cheating.
In Las Vegas only the house deals the blackjack. In DC only the government deals period. Conviviality can’t even get started: and the cheaters’ monopolies get carved in stone.

2011 10 04 I tried to explain this in 1970, I tried describing it online once I had internet access (to spare for private use), mid-1990s and following. Everything of mine online got censored in 2007, now I’m trying to resurrect it. The code for this module was (and is) very complex: I fix problems as I see them.
I expect God to show the originals flawlessly at Judgment: till then you have to do some of the work to see what I’m saying: and to see how you’re been deceived by the thieving culture.

2013 06 12 The HTML style, the layout of this most important post needs to be revised: and editing, always.

DeCentral Menu

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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