The following articles were authored by Briana Jacoba

Leadership as Meaning-making in a Community of Practice

Leadership as Meaning-Making in a
Community of Practice

Wilfred H. Drath and Charles J. Palus

Published as CCL Report No. 156
© 1994 Center for Creative Leadership
All rights reserved.


Essay on how they came to the conclusion that leadership can be defined as a practice of making sense of common vision, or making meaning in a community.  Important note: everyone is a leader.

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Priority #1: End Corruption

If corruption is real, it is the root problem, from whence all our other problems stem.  When I considered it, everything that has baffled me started making much more sense.  Lawrence Lessig named his initiative to stop corruption “Rootstrikers,” after a quote by Henry David Thoreau:

There are a thousand hacking at the brances of evil
to one who is striking at the root.”

Well, Rootstrikers offers an open invitation in this short video:

but personally, I like this 18-minute TED talk much better:

Lawrence Lessig: We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim on TED

on TED  116,152 views in 9 months.

I hereby subordinate all of my goals to goal #1: ending corruption.  I think Lessig would agree that that has everything to do with unbiased media and data ownership.  I hope the Agency project can serve to unify passionate people who are otherwise living in artificially separated and overly-polarized worlds.  I’m focused on getting money out of media, basically, so media is (re?)instated as government’s checkpoint.


Keep up on Lessig in general here, or daily on his own blog.

Our Data is Our Digital Identity

‘What are you reading?’

‘None of your business.’

‘What are you voting?’

‘None of your business.’


Harsh, but true: it’s nobody’s business.  If you are or know an introvert intimately (like, I’m married to one), you know that their sometimes frustrating policy of “not sharing until they’re ready” is valuable, and well worth the wait.


Waiting until we’re ready to share before telling family/housemates about what we’re reading, listening to, or thinking gives us the chance to pick up what we feel like learning about of our own volition, and not what (at some subconscious level, perhaps) we think would make for pleasant conversation.  Sharing our thoughts and questions when we’re ready makes for more thoughtful conversation, and puts introverts on an even foot with the quick-to-talk (like me), who otherwise ‘dominate’ the airtime/subject/direction, no matter how much we ‘encourage’ the quiet to speak.  If the choices we make, our likes and dislikes, and our thoughts, feelings, and actions are made free from observation by others, and are, therefore, not hampered/clouded by others’ agendas, they teach us more about who we are.  Not only that: in many senses that defines who we are.


Why would it be anyone’s business online?

More importantly: Why would anyone make it their business?

This post is about freedom to choose our own dreams and how we go about discovering our path: it’s about autonomy.


Here’s an article called 

Our data is our digital identity – and we need to reclaim control

written by filmmaker Cullen Hoback for The Guardian.

in which I find the most interesting lines:

I’d love to see users at least have access to information a company has on them, then I’d like for them to have control over that data. But that’s not the priority.”

Hoback’s priority?

A private internet experience will be impossible until we get rid of the FISA amendments and overhaul the Patriot Act.”

I wonder what he’d say of Lawrence Lessig’s priority: ending corruption first.

Terms And Conditions May Apply

Our neighborhood house-sitter was recently outraged when she lost all her data about her clients’ addresses, pets’ names, and the cryptic reminders to herself of how to get into their houses (she didn’t store key-codes outright, but still… it’s sensitive data!)  How?  Through the simple act of clicking ‘I Agree’ on her Iphone when she used Facebook on it for the first (and only) time.  All that data?  Gone.  Erased.  Parts imported to Facebook.  She called it ‘stolen’ – is that the right term?!

  1. Facebook stores data in profile-style, storing information into standardized packets that are useful to it.  As a result of Facebook’s data-transfer program having no idea what to do with information that wasn’t labeled <Name>, <address>, etc.  …euh… information like cryptic notes-to-self aren’t even retrievable through logging on to Facebook.  Even though this data was removed from her phone.
  2. It’s information she needs to take care of responsibilities others depend on her for.  It’s a huge expense to her (time-wise and reputation-wise) to have to get it from all of her clients again individually.
  3. She had no idea, and is outraged, that the terms and conditions for any online medium could involve her clients’ data being not just copied, but transferred: removed from her phone.  This is other people’s data she was entrusted with, and she would never have entrusted it to Facebook has she even suspected that was what they were asking her to agree to.
Terms and Conditions May Apply Movie

It won a few prizes! Watch the 30-minute eye-opener for free at


Boy, does she regret tapping ‘I Agree’ without reading the fine print — normally she’s a real stickler for that: a few months ago, she heard I was using Car2Go, and asked me to reconsider unless I had a fat savings account, because she found the fine print to leave too much risk on the users’ side in many situations users can’t account for.  She’s actually a bit of a spook: she hadn’t even used Facebook for a year-and-a-half until that fateful day, because of the erosion of her trust in them.  This is a friendly, kind, down-to-earth and spiritually trusting woman!


She said this is apparently standard operating procedure for Iphone/Facebook:  at the Apple Store, they said, matter-of-factly

Oh, yeah.
NEVER connect to Facebook
from your phone.”

I empathized until she felt fully heard.  Then I told her I am working on the Agency Network, where your data is yours and never leaves your possession.  She wanted to learn more.  But the most instant action I had for her was education & spreading the word:  I wish she had seen this movie.  It’s short & life-altering, not sensationalized, just great.


You may want to ask those you live with (or connect a lot with online) to watch it with you, so you can discuss and integrate together.  It’s that impactful.

No “Service,” Please

Even if search engines and media are not being used to profile everyone or to spy on business deals (and exacerbate Wall Street-backed problems) …just the ‘service’ of getting ‘tailored to’ through (more tempting) personalized ads and (more-like-I-have-said-I-am-in-the-past-)skewed search results ‘as a service’ is damaging IMHO.


Engraving The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré (1865)

What we need even more than an economy, is a reason to live.  Without belief in each others’ goodness, life would not be worth living, IMHO.  We need to get along, not become more polarized.  With more and more different opinions (which are based on past experiences and the opinions of (imaginary) peers!)

we can’t expect to get along with one another easily if our online worlds (and their offline counterparts) look and work entirely differently.  We need equality & truth  –  and each other.


Just as an example of skewed and unfair realities that exacerbate problems and manage to make those same problems seem rediculous to those (neighbors/acquaintances) who would otherwise be our supporters in our hour of need:  Did you know that people who easily get addicted to gambling are charged for using the same sites that others ‘get to play on’ for “FREE”?!  We’re talking WORLDS operating differently.


This is all the -isms of the past in a new sheepskin called ‘marketing’ and ‘free services.’  Since context is so much of who we are, I wonder:

Where will we ‘meet each other in the middle’ – where is the middle – if we never cross paths online, and offline we fail to imagine how different each others’ world/worldviews are?  How will we even know what each other means by ‘security’ or ‘entitlement’ if our vocabularies don’t mean the same thing anymore?!  How can we practice democracy polarized?

Related post: A Polarized Populace Is Not an Energy Source.

This post was inspired by  — and the lively discussion there.  Solid questions from everyday people.  Well worth a look if you can access it.

Pivotal Keynote by Glenn Greenwald

Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s awesome 50-minute keynote, teleported LIVE to over 6,000 CCC’ers present, and just 4 days later I’m viewer #22,290 (!) … It’s on YouTube (which is owned by what CCC’ers call ‘the Faceboogle,’ which is ironic) so …sorry Spooks!


Here’s Cory Doctorow’s shorter report, and here’s my summary of Greenwald’s points, in quotations whenever possible, in 5 sections:

  1. Since breaking Edward Snowden’s story, Greenwald and colleagues, and people who contact him, have started to overcome the obstacles to communicating securely with one another – huge sea change in the right direction, though motivation had to be high for laypeople (like Greenwald) to become proficient with the most rudimentary of tools.
  2. The appearance of government “reform” / judicial ‘oversight’ (LOL) / congressional committees / intelligence committees is called into existence for PR, but is actually run by pro-NSA people whose intentions are to maintain/intensify surveillance.  ”The answer to whether or not we’re going to have any meaningful reform definitely does not lie in the typical processes of democratic accountability that we’re all taught to respect, but they do lay elsewhere.”  He names a few places/levels in order of increasing proximity to our self-empowerment, and follows with ”but I ultimately think that

    the greatest hope lies with
    the people in this room
    and the skills that all of you possess.”

    please help me attribute this to the artist

    • Beware impostors tempting the young talent to work for the dark side (his message, my word choice).  Greenwald: stick with defending human beings.
  3. It’s true, many would-be whistleblowers and transparency activists cannot rationalize paying the price of the extreme punishments that have been doled out so far.  ”The paradox is that, there are a lot of other people, I think even more people, who react in exactly the opposite way:  when they see [governments] willing to abuse power, they don’t become scared of deterred, they become even more emboldened.  And the reason for that, is that: when you see these governments are capable of that level of abuse of power, you realize that you can no longer in good conscience stand by (…).  It becomes an even greater imperative to you to come forward and shine a light on what they’re doing.” “there’s a really sweet irony, and – I think – cause for optimism – that it is [the US and Britain] who are sowing the seeds of dissent, who are fueling the fire of this activism with their own abusive behavior.”  And he wishes that the elected ‘leaders’ of other nations, whose privacy was served by Snowden’s actions, would be bold enough to act on treaties that obligate them to protect his rights, or moral enough to, based on the debt they owe to him.
  4. The first document Snowden ever showed Greenwald was proof of outright lying by officials

    “by lie I mean advisedly: things they know to be false that they’re saying anyway, to convince people of what they want them to believe.”  Names specific examples.  The recording quality gets hazy, but I believe I hear clear statements that

    it’s not anti-terror, but economic negotiations and -investments that have been heavily spied upon without a warrant.  

    Journalists are supposed to be watchdogs for this, but ”at the same time, the same media that sees it, acts scandalized if you suggest that [officials'] claims should not be taken at face value.  Because their role is not to be adversarial.  Their role is to be loyal spokespeople to the [very government] that they pretend to exercise oversight [on].”  Reporters are bold and “very ‘brave’ in condemning Snowden.”  ”And yet the top of senate lied to their faces, and you will be hard pressed to find even a single one of those ['brave' reporters]“ interrupted by applause  “… express the idea that Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, be subject to the rule of law and be prosecuted and imprisoned for the crimes that he committed.  Because the role of the U.S. media and their British counterparts [has been twisted into] to be voices for those with the greatest power, and to protect their interests and serve them…”

  5. One overarching point, meant quite literally:  The goal of the NSA and its 5-eyes partners of the English-speaking world (…) is to eliminate privacy globally, to ensure that there be no communications (…) that evades their surveillance net.  They want (…) all forms (…) all online activities are collected, scored, and analyzed by these allies.”  ”That’s their goal.”   “They target every form of communication.”


For more context, see the links in my previous post, titled Chaos = Just Plain Love? Chaos Communications Congress.

Chaos = Just Plain Love? Chaos Communications Congress

I riffed that off the quote “Peace is Organized Love” *)


The 30th annual Chaos Communication Congress, 

the hacker place-to-be between Christmas and New Years’, is themed by self-responsibility:

We all broke the Internet
by foregoing our civic duty

not to be a predictable populace.

Of those of us building a ‘GNU’ one (pun intended), many are there, in the flesh, rubbing shoulders.  Not my team, though  :(   We’re developing strong functionality before we develop encryption-levels that will still depend on secure browsers, etc. for a fully end-to-end secure experience.  In my book, it’s good that not all ingredients come from/depend on one team, so that as they become outdated, parts can be upgraded independently.  As innovators, we are ALL working on this together, and must, as users, continue in that vein: no matter what technology seems to ‘solve’ – we are all responsible.


Here’s 2 posts about the keynote at the 30th CCC, by journalist Glen Greenwald (#Snowden, #PRISM).  Here’s my summary, and here’s the report urging you to just watch it by Cory Doctorow.


To end on a similar note as I began, I will give the actual quote:

Peace is organized love. War is organized hate. If we work as hard to bring about the organization of love as we do of hate, we would see the number of wars decrease and the toll of domestic violence.”

*) I’m not sure whether that’s a quote from Dr. Maria Montessori or Gandhi, whose satyagraha, non-violent resistance (the moral force which is always stronger than physical force) Montessori studied.  I consider myself a student of both of these teachers, as well as Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.  Great teachings for sacred activism.




30C3 – Monetas Open Transactions

The 30th Chaos Communication Congress (30C3), which opened with an hour-long talk by Glenn Greenwald is the German conference with Social Swarm, currently in their annual session. Here follows a sample message from their listserve.


In other cases, I’ve seen a long slew of cracks at a suggested system within days, but this one has not garnered criticism yet after 5.  Perhaps because many CCC’ers are together in person, or perhaps silence is a vote of confidence…


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Melvin Carvalho


- end to end encrypted messaging
- uses namecoin for DNS
- allows payjments and invoicing
- desktop and mobile apps
- free software
- chaumian blinding
- integrates with GPG or other PKI


SocialSwarm mailing list
Digitalcourage, Bielefeld, Germany

Food and the Scale of “Nearby”

Please buy it at a *local* store

If you don’t know of Vicki Robin yet, count yourself lucky to now.  She’s world-famous around these parts.  About her latest work, it has been said:

“local” is as much a state of mind as a geographical location.  (Blessing the Hands that Feed Us) is an idealistic yet practical effort, offering tips for creating sustainable communities”


- from the Publishers Weekly nonfiction review of Vicki Robin’s book, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth.

Don’t Just Follow Your Passion

Here’s the last 3 minutes of a TEDx talk titled:  Don’t Just Follow Your Passion; a Message for Generation Y

And here’s a transcript:

The biggest lesson I’ve learned about following our passions, is that it doesn’t mean anything to follow our passions, if it isn’t in the service of others.  And so, we need to spend just as much time discovering what our passions are, as we spend understanding the needs of the community we live in – that’s where the true potential lies.  There’s a quote by a theologian named Friedrich Brunner, who said that your vocation is where your passion meets the world’s greatest need.

“Your vocation is
where your passion
meets the world’s greatest need.”

I like to think of it as simple economics, where your passion is the supply, and the world’s need is the demand, and we need to find that sweet spot – that intersection between the two.  It’s not about choosing our passion, or choosing to *not* follow our passion – it’s really about marrying our passions to a greater purpose in the communities that we live in.

And in just 60 more seconds, Eunice Hii blew me away with her humility.  Awesome.


I will restate this in an affirmation, which I can’t say is true at every moment, but it is my desired reality, which I hope to realize by inhabiting the tension between reality an my intention (that’s what affirmations are for).  I affirm:


I love spending just as much time discovering

what my community needs,

as I spend in pursuit of personal passions.