About the Author, and About this Blog — Updated

I’m long overdue updating the bio that sits in my right sidebar. Here is the update. If there’s anything else about me you want to know, just ask.

self portrait

I believe human civilization is in its last century. While we have a responsibility to do the best we can to make the world a better place while we’re here, and to help our descendants cope with the mess we are leaving them, it is really too late for the world to be ‘saved’.

I continue to hope that governments and corporations can be persuaded to behave in a more altruistic and enlightened manner — e.g. working towards Sustainability in a Generation. But whether they can or not, I think the more important political, social and economic activities of the next half-century will be grassroots, bottom-up actions: The creation of sustainable intentional communities, sustainable natural enterprises, and peer-to-peer collaborative information and education networks about how to live sustainably. We will in effect be creating new, self-managed political, social and economic systems to replace the completely dysfunctional hierarchical systems that we currently live under. This is consistent with Bucky Fuller’s advice: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

I believe in creating these new bottom-up political, social and economic systems despite the fact that I think it is too late to save the world from the old ones. At best, what we will accomplish is to have created some ‘working models’ that will be useful by post-civilization society. That’s not much, but it’s better than doing what we’re doing now, or doing nothing at all.


This weblog is a journal of my search to find better ways to live, and make a living, and a better understanding of how the world really works. It has six converging, overlapping categories of essays, articles, synopses and stories:

  • Preparing for civilization’s end: Articles about sustainable living, how our civilization emerged and why it is no longer viable, what we can learn from nature and from history, building community, activism, alternative economies, animal sentience and how to prepare ourselves, and our children and grandchildren, for civilization’s twilight and aftermath.
  • Working smarter in the meantime: Articles about sustainable business and how to find meaningful work in a world where most work is not. And some useful ideas and tools from my own business experience to make you more innovative, better at business research, more effective at getting things done (and done well), more collaborative, more appreciative of complexity, and more aware of what is really going on and what is needed in the evolving economy.
  • Using weblogs and technology: Why blogs and other social networking and collaborative learning tools are so important in a networked non-hierarchical society, and how to use them more effectively.
  • Understanding ourselves: Our culture, what drives us to do what we do, feel what we feel and be what we are, and what we can learn from science, the arts, holistic approaches to health, great writing, and stories.
  • How the world really works: What the political and economic news really means, the news you don’t hear, how the political and economic systems really work and why they’re so dysfunctional, and the role that the media, the education system and our frames of reference play in how we understand the world.
  • Stories: My short stories, poetry, memoirs and other fiction writings that try to imagine what is possible, and try to explain things that essays cannot, in ways that essays cannot.


My genius — what I do uniquely well, and love doing — is imagining possibilities. If you have a set of intractable business and/or social problems, I can draw on 30+ years of business experience, an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, an extremely creative yet pragmatic mind, exceptional research and collaborative skill, and a knack for taking an idea or solution from one discipline and seeing how it could apply in an entirely different one, and come up with ideas, solutions and approaches that will address these problems, better than anyone else can do this. And then I can provide you with processes and tools and coaching that will show you and your co-workers how to make this continuous innovation process “part of the way we do things around here”.

My experience and understanding of complexity science and systems thinking have also taught me what (including most ‘conventional wisdom’) doesn’t work, and why, so I can help you avoid the mistakes all your competitors have made and are still making. I’m up on the latest business techniques and knowledge, from customer anthropology to tapping the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’.

I’m an expert on: Knowledge management (e.g. personal productivity improvement, just-in-time knowledge canvassing, knowledge harvesting, personal content management, the cost of not knowing, adding meaning to information), business innovation, all aspects of entrepreneurship (e.g. researching unmet needs, the innovation process, finding partners and allies, organic financing, viral marketing, building networks, strategic improvisation), social networking, information architecture, the virtual workplace, complexity management, cultural anthropology, business valuation, business sustainability, collaboration strategies, the future of business, the new economy, capturing employee and customer intelligence, differentiation strategies, and personal effectiveness coaching. I’ve written, lectured and presented at conferences on most of these subjects. You can find many of my writings on these subjects in the business category of this blog.

E-mail me for more information on my competencies, experience and credentials.


[In the movie Serendipity , Jeremy Piven plays an obituary writer for the New York Times, who is charged with having to say something about friend John Cusack on the occasion of his wedding. Inevitably, Piven’s character frames the bio as an obit, making the point that there is probably no better format to tell about one’s life in a few words. So herewith, my obituary, self-constructed. No morbidness intended.]

Dave was born in 1951 in Leicester, England and grew up in Winnipeg, Canada, a shy, slow learner who suddenly developed some social graces and language skills at the age of 17, and in the process evolved from an incoherent and withdrawn C student to a scholar with an overblown ego. He was then, and remained throughout his life, defined by words that start with the letter “I”: immature, insensitive, inarticulate, and idealistic.

His immaturity caused him to be socially awkward, impatient, unfocused, inattentive and sometimes too intense, but also made him irreverent, open to new ideas, and imaginative. His insensitivity made him a poor listener, left him with an unreliable memory, and caused him to misunderstand most of what others said to him, thought about him, and wanted from him, to his lifelong impoverishment. His inarticulateness prevented him, usually, from gaining the recognition and achieving the results he would otherwise have attained. His idealism made him impractical and ultimately unhappy, but also gave him vision, ambition and courage. He believed that civilization culture damaged, alienated and psychologically imprisoned everyone.

He was interested in and modestly knowledgeable about a vast array of subjects, and that breadth combined with an unusual self-taught creativity enabled him to see how ideas, information and innovations in one discipline could be applied in interesting and sometimes exciting ways in a completely different discipline, a skill that was intermittently valued in both social and business circles. He did a reasonably competent if somewhat disengaged job at providing for his family and surfacing some useful and innovative ideas in his career as Director of Entrepreneurial Services and Chief Knowledge Officer for a big professional services company. His collected stories, poetry, essays and other written works can be found in his on-line journal How to Save the World and in his eight published books:

  • The Only Life We Know, a prescient novel about the “strange, diverse and surprisingly idyllic life on Earth after a future eco-collapse” (he was off by 30 years in the date of the eco-collapse, but his vision was remarkably accurate, considering it was written in 2007)
  • Finding Meaningful Work and The Natural Enterprise, a two-volume work about establishing your own satisfying, socially and environmentally responsible business in collaboration with people you really care about (2007 and 2008)
  • The Cost of Not Knowing, a book on the failures and promise of Knowledge Management (2009)
  • The Generosity Economy, a book explaining how the faltering market economy of the day was giving way to a new, collaborative economy based on service instead of self-interest (2010)
  • Working Smarter, a book on improving your personal work effectiveness (2012)
  • A Legacy for Your Children, a book explaining how to create sustainable intentional communities, sustainable natural enterprises, and peer-to-peer collaborative information and education networks about how to live sustainably (written at the start of the Second Great Depression in 2016)
  • Learning from History in a Time of Madness, a book written for “the generations after” with ten lessons about the greatest mistakes made by civilized humans (2024)

When he was 55 he listed the following as his regrets in life to date: Spending thirty years as a wage slave instead of living simpler; not making more friends and lovers; not loving himself more and looking after himself better; not spending more time in wilderness, in nature, with animals, and in play; spending too much time in information and entertainment activities that didn’t matter; getting angry and upset with others, and about events over which he had no control; eating meat; not creating a natural enterprise with others; wearing clothes; and not learning to be more self-sufficient. He made up for all these regrets in the final 20 years of his life, establishing the Sustainable Living Collaborative in 2010 and helping to create many of the models of community, enterprise and economy that our post-civilization society was built on and has flourished because of.

In his latter years he lived in a lovely community on protected wetlands in Caledon, just NW of Toronto. He was survived by his wife, her two extraordinary children (who he always said he was “privileged to have grown up with”), and two equally extraordinary grand-daughters.

He credits his wife with making him everything he was.

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12 Responses to About the Author, and About this Blog — Updated

  1. Percival says:

    People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of people. Sooner or later we’ll get it right, but within a hundred years? I know it’s a nice even number, but it’ll take longer than that. Do you realize the billions of people, and in every nook and cranny of the globe? We’ve infested the planet and there’s no big can of Raid.

  2. theresa says:

    That is a scary comment percival especially since Dave’s blog often makes the point that there really is a big can of Raid being sprayed into the environment. True, that stuff just kills the weakest, leaving the toughest, meanest and least civilized to reproduce. End of Civilization?

  3. I loved the movie Serendipity. I think maybe everyone should write or at least read their own obituary now and then. Maybe we’d live better. :)

  4. laodan says:

    Let’s summarize.1. CREDOI believe human civilization is in its last century. 2. ABOUT THIS BLOGThis weblog is a journal of my search to find better ways to live, and make a living, and a better understanding of how the world really works.3. MY DISTINCTIVE COMPETENCIES (IN CASE YOU WANT TO HIRE ME)My genius — what I do uniquely well, and love doing — is imagining possibilities. 4. ABOUT ME: MY OBITUARYHe credits his wife with making him everything he was.I’m sorry Dave I can’t but see the same contradictions as earlier:- The game is finished.- Let’s find a better way of playing.- Hire me, I’m a genius, I know how to play.- My wife helped me living a simpler life instead of spending thirty years as a wage slave…Notwithstanding those contradictions I feel somehow deeply bonded with you.I don’t know how to say this. Yes, modernity, in less than 500 years has succeeded to bring humanity to the brink of collapse. (seen from a historical perspective modernity is indeed only a fraction of a second in the process of human evolution) That’s a fact. BUT there is also something in modernity that I can’t detach myself from. Is it freedom? I’m not sure. But perhaps it is just that.What I mean to say is that humanity is like oscillating between its two poles: individuals and societies. For most of the past history society had the upper hand and the individuals counted for nothing. By freeing the genie of individualism modernity debased society and unleashed atomization (the individual as naked king). In conclusion of this process we are assisting at the demise of societies and the moral, cultural boundaries that they had established are vanishing. So here we are:- societal demise- atomization- will there be a re-tribalization? Well I hear your words but I did not see the tribe.From another troubled mind, with love.

  5. lc singh says:

    There is a reason to be a pessimist and there is a better reason to become an optimist..I made a movie called Banaras; see it if yo can get hold of a copy.You may also visit my blog http://banarasthemovie.blogspot.com We have to change.

  6. Martin-Eric says:

    Dave: reading your autobiography in today’s blog gave me one of those AHA moments. It forced me to look at myself from the outside at a time when I needed it the most. Thank you!laodan: I think it’s fair to say that current economic trends are poluting this planet beyond tolerance levels. I also beleive that deconsumption and a more responsible lifestyle is a necessary step towards making this less painful. However, one should remember that the end of civilisation is not the same as the end of humankind. Instead, one should think of it more in terms of the collapse of an Empire. History reveals that no matter how wrong things went before an Empire collapsed, nature always recovered, even if it meant eradicating a human infestation in countries and areas where deemed necessary. Some people die, but humanity itself lives on. So, while it’s definitely gonna hurt, especially for those who chose to stay in densely populated areas, the coming events can be lived through for anyone prepared. Think of it as knowing that a tornado has been announced by the meterological forecast and being prepared for its coming. Same thing here. By the time the crime victim rate and food price reaches critical levels, you’ll know that the time to move out of the city is a big “now or never”.

  7. Niran Sabanathan says:

    As for people predicting the end of the world. Most of this has been based on prophecy and reading the “signs”, not rational thought. Given civilizations hunger and greed for cheap enegry (oil) and the fact that our whole lifestyle is based on this one cheap energy source, the comple disregard for the environment and a polly-anna belief that it is ever bountiful and resilent, despite humans depleting resources to the point of no return (altlantic cod stocks, sahara dessert, passenger pigieons etc…), the head in the sand approach to global warming (if I’m not looing, it doesn’t exists and a fundemental disregard for human and animal suffering in the face of cheap goods, and convenience, I think the human civilization experiment will likely be terminated soon or at least drastically altered. Note, not the end of the world but rather the radical change of human civilization. So while there may be billions of people in every nook an cranny of this world, how well do you think the earth can support the population if mondern agriculture fails – no oil, no pesticides, no transport, altered global climate – who the heck knows how this is going to affect agriculture. Lets not forget the immediate human response to declining resource , especially those with weapons – steal from someone who is weaker (eg: Iraq) so this translates to a global free for all. This is a story that civilization has repeated againg and again (Rome, Egypt, Sumatra, Iraq, Rapanui) and no matter how old the story gets, we just want to repeat it on a bigger and bigger scale.As for increased freedom in the modern world – I am a little perplexed by the supposed power of the individual – in a society that allows a whole 2-3 weeks of vaccation a year (North America), that destroys the very nature of democracy by corporate pandering, a school system that indocrinates rather than educates, well at least I get my choice of 56 flavours of ice cream (false choice) but heck I can’t even tell if my food is genetically modified, because of the GM lobby against putting such information on the label. Freedom is a carefully created illusion in this modern world – lots of little choice, but nothing of any real meaning.

  8. Gary says:

    “Have a little faith man! Too many negative vibes.” (know the movie??)The world as we know it may end, civilization as we know it ‘will’ end. Both will morhp into something new and better – if not just different!”And that’s the truth……..puuttttthhhhhh”Ruth Buzzy

  9. Evan says:

    My only way to cope with any or all of this is to “be the green I want to see in the world”. If it’s artificial, I do not want to buy it, use it or eat it. It’s a small thing. Two of my heroes Black Hawk and Chief Seattle were wise before their times and during their times-paraphrasing: We are the Earth and the Earth is us.

  10. Mark Matchen says:

    Great minds think alike. And I do mean, Great Minds. See who else is questioning human survival over the next century.http://answers.yahoo.com/question/;_ylt=AtjblpXOSMXPaKrJ2N9lui8jzKIX?qid=20060704195516AAnrdOD

  11. Sandy says:

    I can’t wait to read those books. The Only Life We Know sounds like a wonderful novel, inspired by Ishmael. Finding Meaningful Work and The Natural Enterprise both sound like books I would use as texts in my college courses in management. Do you have a publisher yet? An agent? If not, someone should snap you up! I recomment Berrett-Koehler in SF…

  12. Chris says:

    don’t despair, Dave. It doesn’t do any good at all. Keep on fighting the good fight!!!!!

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