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All Local Heros need a Gig Side Kick

Five months ago during my preparation and ramp up to gardening season, I started thinking about what it would be like to have a partner, a side kick, a secretary to keep me honest and on task.

Somebody who could review old journal notes from previous years and give me hints about what seeds I should be starting, what worked well, what didn't, and why.

I started thinking I'm likely not alone and that other hobby and market gardeners likely feel the same way. I then expanded this, likely anyone bootstrapping a small business "enterprise" could use a side kick. Small craft brewers, artists, sign makers, the list goes on and on.

As you might know I'm deeply interested in systems like computer science and permaculture. Computer scientists often try to model complex natural systems. Often natural systems give us clues on how to make computers perform certain tasks.

One reoccuring theme I find between computer science and permaculture is the idea of inputs and outputs.

Brewing wine from berries requires the following inputs: boiling water, berries, sugar, yeast, and yeast nutrient. Combined all these inputs together in the right way, wait for a certain time, and the system returns an a tasty, alchoholic, product with a long shelf life as an output. The spent berries go straight into the compost for next years garden. Natural systems and unnatural systems model after natural ones, have no waste by-products (pollution). Every output of one process is always an input of another.

Only when we mess up the natural order of organic systems do we end up with polution. Polution is simply a holistically bad output. For example, when we artifically produce outputs, like plastics there is no natural system to take it as an input, it becomes polution and makes the system sick.

To fight off the production of unnatural outputs, like single use plastics, we need to create other human managed systems to use the pollution as inputs. For example, I'm insulating my shed with bags of single use polyethylene wrappers that wrap my families purchases. I'm keeping the valuable (although un-natural) resource out of the waste stream and using it to shrink the tempurature swing deltas in my shed. When we model the material world as inputs and outputs we can learn how to best use what we have on hand.

We can boost each of our local economies by providing proper tools to the local makers.

This is why today I'm announcing GigSideKick to flip the script on globalization and large enterprise giants.

GigSideKick is a "field" journal app to track inputs and outputs. The primary goal is to collect the right amount of data with the least amount of friction, have an intuitive user interface, and a user experience which mostly stays out of the way. In addition to tracking inputs and outputs, the user will optionally set ETAs on processes set in motion which will power reminders.

Each local hero deserves the unfair advantage that a smart and capabile Side Kick provides.

This type of input/output journal will not interfere with the task at hand, and would only require a few button presses. The data created from such a journal is important for the user's future self, and if properly aggregated and crowd sourced, the data will enable a powerful recommendation engine.

For example, a person subscribing to a "garden" knowledge pack might get the following recommendation: "gardeners in your area are known to typically start on average of 24 zucchini seeds this month, which typically result in 18 viable zucchini seedlings in 6 days", "How many will you start?"

  • None
  • 12
  • 24
  • 48
  • Other

In the background, the app would also track human labor (which itself is valuable input), track inventory of parts, work-in-process, and finished goods. Finally the app's data would power a local marketplace to help the maker trade and sell finished products. After all, if you produce a surplus of apples without a system in place to use them, the apples will end up as an input to the compost pile instead of the bellies of deserving humans. : )

I believe we must give power back to local communities and economies. We, the side gig heros and local businesses operators, need all the help we can get to compete in today's global economy.

Local makers have many often un-exploited unfair advantages. We do not need to ship our goods which means we should have lower margins. We need to figure out how to market our products (outputs) to local people looking for our superior goods.

Another often untapped unfair advantage is the sale or trade of our by-products. We can even trade our waste! For example as a gardener, I would gladly trade a heaping bowl of same day cut, "beyond organic" salad greens, for your bucket of leaves, coffee grounds, sticks, sawdust, or grass clippings! It's honestly the timeless addage of "one mans trash is another mans treasure". Your waste is a very useful input to the correct system and local people trading outputs is by far the best thing we can do for our planet.

I plan to document my journy of building this vision, I hope you join me.

Like always, please feel free to leave comments below, I always respond.

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© Russell Ballestrini.