Briana Barrett is a trained biochemist, life-coach, and teacher turned “cleaning lady and village nut.” For the sake of getting to know her 300 closest neighbors before becoming a mother, Briana practices local living: She works exclusively for neighbors living within a 2-3 block radius of her Fremont apartment. To connect her neighbors to one another, she inquires into their aspirations. These “assets” are mapped/matched on community bulletin boards, accessible in the garage-turned-clubhouse.
“I’m enjoying myself and weaving together the lives of the 300 people immediately around me, strengthening the village in which I’ll start my family.”
Briana chronicles her adventures here at neibghborsonpurpose.com
I was recently part of a professional development training about caregivers’ responsibility to notice and prevent sexual abuse.
After watching videos and the official Q&A, the group discussion centers on touch – appropriate touch. A pastor, attending because he works with elders and in hospice, tells us how in his experience, the hands, outer arms, face, and feet welcome appropriate touch as experiences of companionship and solace. His hand’s physical comfort, they say, is very impactful, very healing, and I believe it on a deep, deep level. The pastor sees how isolation and depression plague our elderly, as if they have become untouchable in our youth-centric culture.
My mind wanders briefly to Dutch birthdays.
“Hell,” he said, “wasn’t always fire and brimstone. In old days, hell was described as extensive isolation, separateness, and a complete lack of touch.”
We all agreed it can be a maddening hell to go through life deprived of appropriate touch.
If you are a sensitive person, or dislike human touch, does the story above still make sense to you? If not, I’m curious where I lost ya, and interested to learn.
For those of us who might not notice all the ways in which our ability, youth, or outgoingness gets us touch: If you were to find yourself house-bound tomorrow, perhaps able to get to your front steps on your own, how might you get your ‘fix’ for the years to come? They say 8 hugs a day!
Yesterday marked the crowdfunding launch of splicious, a social-networking-type application that exemplifies the many apps that can be built on the underlying platform for distributed computing & connecting. Even though splicious will rock in the processing & presentation of what Indie Phone’s Aral Balkan calls “Small Data” (following the compelling sentence “I’m not interested in Big Data – I’m interested in *My* Data”) I think splicious apps are actually bound to become a hit *before* the Internet of Things becomes unwieldy to wannabe-Luddites like me.
In a few months, splicious will NOT just be interesting to developers, because it’s so straightforward to build very attractive things on this platform. I see splicious’ “social network”-type app as the first mainstreamable peer-to-peer, distributed online tool for direct personal and social empowerment. Imagine, for example, being able to find out which neighbors you’ve never met have kids the same age as yours — after validating through authorities that both you and they are not known sex offenders, or whatever other anonymous-but-personal-background-check-like info your neighbors require before they entertain this kind of a relationship — which they have a standing query out for. A less life-alteringly joyful but powerful example: Imagine being able to validate that you are indeed a unique citizen who has yet to cast her vote, without associating your name or meta-identifiers while casting it… and, now imagine you changed your mind, and you’re able to correct your vote just as easily & confidentially. Any program claiming that capability so far has been a proprietary ‘black box’ — uncheckable, unaccountable, and worthwhile to crack/tamper with.
Splicious is about Trust — well-founded, well-developed Trust. Therefore, splicious is about context, accountability, and reputation. And about packaging each bit of information in its own encryption and letting it swim around and mix, like individual seeds on the wind, so there is no worthwhile hacking jackpot of associable information.
Transparency Splicious is built in the clear: all the code is Open Source, and the programming language used is very closely related to the math language that security analysts employ to check the authenticity and security of processes. In other words: it’s relatively simple to check that splicious is coded to do what it was promised to do; no more and no less. Wire it to cheat people, and you will be caught. This (yearsss’ worth of) intricate groundwork makes it easier for app developers (and their lay funders, for example) to spec and build awesome stuff on top of it in any language they like, yet do so both transparently and without all of the vulnerabilities inherent in so many of the industry standards of the past. Here’s one of our brilliant coders talking about what excites him – and makes splicious tick: splicious ask. Scalability and ViabilityTruly distributed social networks have unique challenges on the building/launching/maintainance/development path, to do with scalabilty and financial viability.How can a distributed, anonymous-by-default, peer-to-peer platform like splicious (where there is no central authority, no central hub or storage, no central database to hack in a single swoop) sustain itself financially without perpetual fundraising? I currently see the following 3 ways:
Every time we support each other (directly, peer-to-peer, with the integrated Bitcoin support button, ♥, pronounced ‘honey’) we ensure splicious’ financial sustainability with a small fraction of BTC – completely anonymously, and in proportion to how much value we’re getting out of the service and able to express in this way.
Every time we notice a big or a feature we’d like fixed, done, or made, or a beautification/layout improvement comes to mind, we can add our 2 cents, in the form of informative remarks, monetary incentive, and perhaps labors of love, to the codex of code-to-be.
My Personal Interest Until splicious grows to handle and attract mainstream use able to sustain it in these small and subtle ways (which will be when we have 1 million participants May 18, 2015) there will be an iterative, relationship-building, confidence-building, transparency-&-accountability-based crowdfunding relationship. This, the first of four crowdfunding iterations, is meant to invite impassioned interest from 1000 participants. The next (after proving the promised features are built in spec) will invite 10,000 participants. Then, after the 3rd, 100,000-participant round, the last of four 3-month stints will fund, attract, and prepare splicious for 1million users. Hopefully it will look fun to code-illiterate people like my neighbors, who couldn’t care less about privacy, but who want to have the functionality of labels and location-searches that allow for meaningful local semantics and incremental intimacy to emerge more like nature, and less like instant coffee: by introductions, by getting to know people based on what we have in common, and increasing interaction gradually. I have longed for a tool that accounts for the uniqueness of each relationship, and allows us to playfully and respectfully discover our complimentary needs and desires – ways we fit in each others’ lives and make everything sweeter. Clearly, I’m in love. As a spiritual practice and a sociological experiment, I actually do the face-to-face ‘work’ (play) of getting to know neighbors well enough to appreciate their unique dreams, talents, and desires, and then connect them to one another like a good hostess does – based on complimentary/shared interests. I’m excited for the tool I feel they/we/I desire in my heart; one that allows my neighbors to deny me access to intimate information unless they see and value the use I will put the data to; one that frees me from data-entry & maintenance; one that ensures I can do double-blind and controlled comparisons with data that is offered to me completely unidentifiable/anonymous, and yet is validly unique and connected to someone I can pay in research results/Bitcoin/gifts, and can still ask questions of over time – also anonymously… ah, the list goes on. I’m excited for this tool to become available to me and my colleagues, to help us validate the value of (and fund!) our work, and for it to be a thing neighbors love to use for entirely different reasons: because it is better than e-mail, Facebook, and their personal filing systems combined. Splicious does some really heavy lifting for us all, and is more fun and intuitive than the alternatives.Conclusion I’m in love – not with splicious, but with the world I wish to see, and already see, but need this high-quality tool to display/prove/reflect to itself… to foster high-quality connections with high-quality integrity… to validate, keep safe, and yet highlight, celebrate, & foster that which is good and true and just all around me – in responsible, respectable ways. I’m curious what your dreams are for our social/digital/mental environment?
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:
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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, buttransferred: 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.
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!
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.
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) personalizedadsand (more-like-I-have-said-I-am-in-the-past-)skewedsearch results ‘as a service’ is damaging IMHO.
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 understand one another if we don’t realize that our online worlds (and their offline counterparts) look and work differently. We need a chance of equality & truth — we need each other.
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?
I don’t have answers, and there are more questions. But to me, it seems, individual empowerment is, paradoxically, about context, relationship, and the quality of communication possible with skillful means.
Related post: A Polarized Populace Is Not an Energy Source.
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!
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.
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.”
Beware impostors tempting the young talent to work for the dark side (his message, my word choice). Greenwald: stick with defending human beings.
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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.
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…