The Olive Tree and the Fig Tree

While technology may change, human behavior does not. At least, that’s what reading the collection of Aesop’s Fables suggests. The characters and motivations in the parables, attributed to Aesop after he died in 564 BCE, remain relevant today.

Aesop 2021 projects these well-known (and not-so-known) stories into an age only a stone’s throw from our own. When cynicism and pessimism abound, hope becomes a rebellious act against the tyranny of the default. Each story recasts a fable’s lesson from our upcoming solarpunk future as a software tale.

The Aesop 2021 project is part of the Never Break the Chain March Writing Challenge. The original sources were translated by George Fyler Townsend and provided under the Project Gutenberg license. Addition reference provided by a Library of Congress interactive book adapted from the public domain book “The Aesop for Children: with Pictures by Milo Winter,” published by Rand, McNally & Co in 1919.

Below is the latest installment.

A picture

Both Olive and Fig software collective were incorporated as distributed trees, chartered with authority to grow and prune project branches in autonomous fashion. However, they operated very differently. Olive had issued a newsworthy amount of tokens and was flush with operating capital. Fig remained bootstrapped, cautiously only adding people when need arose.

When a flurry of cascading economic shocks occurred, Olive found themselves overstaffed, misaligned, and no longer able to mint new coin. Branches broke over their own overhead and infighting ensued. But Fig, accustomed to operating under careful constraints, continued about its business.

Original Fable

THE OLIVE-TREE ridiculed the Fig-Tree because, while she was green all the year round, the Fig-Tree changed its leaves with the seasons. A shower of snow fell upon them, and, finding the Olive full of foliage, it settled upon its branches and broke them down with its weight, at once despoiling it of its beauty and killing the tree. But finding the Fig-Tree denuded of leaves, the snow fell through to the ground, and did not injure it at all.

Moral of the Stories

In software as in life, appearances can be deceiving. What may seem like a weakness or disadvantage in one context may turn out to be an advantage in another. Good times can develop bad habits, becoming liabilitites during bad times.