If you took the time to break down our entire modern civilization into the 50 industrial machines required to make this society tick (with plenty of our current creature comforts), which gadgets would make it onto the list? You'd have to go as low on the chain as possible—to things like bulldozers and bakery ovens; that is, the things that you'd need to make the other things that would eventually make things like iPods and bread.
Well, as you might already have guessed, a group of guys got together to make a list just like that. The result, Open Source Ecology, is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters building the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). The GVCS is an open source (read: free to access, and "doable" by any person skilled with his or her hands), low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts.
The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the developing world.
A modern, comfortable lifestyle relies on a variety of efficient Industrial Machines. If you eat bread, you rely on an Agricultural Combine. If you live in a wood house, you rely on a Sawmill. Each of these machines relies on other machines in order for it to exist. If you distill this complex web of interdependent machines into a reproduceable, simple, closed-loop system, you get a series of basic items, such as a backhoe and windmill turbine (click here to see a full list with images).
Mind blown yet? Find out more here.