How About Dinner at *Your* House?

I know a few people in this place:

It’s supposed to be their turn.  I feel foolish (and, oddly enough, a bit rude) at the idea of inviting neighbors over for dinner AGAIN—before they take their turn.  And it feel stubborn or curmudgeonly not to.  Should I give up?  Remind them?  I feel awful.”

Woah, let’s take a step back: Perhaps you chatted for years, or cut straight to the chase, but you actually had a neighbor over for dinner.  Congrats!  They loved your idea.  They showed up.  You shared food, you enjoyed it, and everyone agreed to do it again. –Didn’t they say it should be their turn next? It was long ago, and now…hands_twiddling_thumbs_fast_lg_nwm

You’re Waiting…

You’ve felt inclined to invite them a second time in a row, to just do tea, or go for a walk together. But you are questioning everything now: is this failure to take turns a cruel social cue?  Did they *not* have fun? like your meal?

Like a good meal left out too long, something smells ‘off’… Are you being taken a bit for granted?  Don’t they know you’ve got a life?!  Don’t they know you’re as busy (implied: and as desirable a person) as they are?

You try to dismiss your secret, tentative judgments. Like food scraps; you refuse to ingest them.  You scrape these kinds of thoughts off ’f your plate and into the compost bin of your mind.  But there’s piles of this crap, and as you deal with the mess, but avoid the source of it, an unspeakable questioning of yourself comes up: you question whether you’re a good judge of character, of authenticity, or of potential.  🙁

What a stressful idea!!  🙁

All this reminds me of my choice of life partner… and dish-washing. More on that later.

Sky’s Full of Pie

Before you accuse your neighbor of promising you pie made of sky, or accuse yourself of being a bad judge of character, consider how new you are at this neighbor-focus. Take a deep breath.

Consider how new your neighbors are at neighbor-focus.  Deep breath.

Oh! how new we all are at actively prioritizing neighbors – neighbors living with us in this day and age!  Deep, deep breaths…

"Scratch the surface of a cynic and you'll find a dreamer who mistook ideals for expectations.”
-____(asking my source for his source)____

Don’t Give Up!

I would bet money that your neighbors DO want to do dinner again—really badly. I bet they had a great time.  I bet they’re sad at the delay, too.  And like everyone, they have a million reasons to feel insecure or hold off on novelty.  Reasons that are Not. About. You. 

Please, help me serve you your own love on a silver platter – a clean, shiny, reflective one.

First, Do Last Night’s (Mental) Dishes

Shall we allow your feelings to get stinky, slimy, and unrecognizable in the kitchen-corner of your heart? Or shall we take 15 minutes now—or next time you do dishes—to salvage the ‘ick’ as precious compost, and cut through the grime to the appetizing truth?

In the midst of a happy marriage, as if cluttering up the buffet of life, I was mildly lonely and upset every day, several teeny tiny moments a day –over dishes. Every time there were dishes, issues about fairness welled up.  They were silent, most times, but they were there every time.  I longed for collaboration, turn-taking, enjoying learning from each other, care…  We had it in many other parts of shared life, but the dishes… somehow brought up my doubts.  I’ll share a process that helped me.  This process could nourish and sustain your generous, amazing inner chef!

1.   Admit What You’d LIKE

Be compassionate with yourself & tender with your perhaps-shattered hopes: besides food, what did you want from ‘their turn’?  Fairness?  Enthusiasm?  Spontaneity?  Perhaps you wanted to see their place, or you don’t really like cooking, yourself.  Do you feel strapped for time unless food is included?  Right on! Write it down! Takes 3 minutes.

In my dishwashing example:

I want my husband’s solidarity and help.  This doesn’t feel like an effective use of time.  I want the structure of knowing which tasks are mine to do, so that I don’t hesitate and can just get started and stay focused on the task (if it’s my turn) instead of wondering who’s supposed to be doing it, when. 

2.   Allow Your Enthusiasm

After writing for 3 minutes, in the same way you’d talk to a friend, leave that spot completely.  Physically move a few feet away from it, leaving a still-beating after-image of your heart right there in the air.

Now, in a new spot just a few feet to the side, inhabit this:
Wow!  You invited your neighbor to dinner!! !  They said yes!  Were you relieved?!  Did you ‘let yourself go’ a bit budgeting for/preparing the food?  Did a little giddy anticipation arise at the threat -ehr- promise of guests, and motivate you to tidy up/clean house?  Did you feel excited about the relationship?  Did you enjoy your time together and laugh?

Using the back, or a fresh scrap of paper:  Write from your pure joy in sharing a meal at your place, without interruption by the other part. Takes 3 minutes.

In my dishwashing example:

I have good memories of doing “the kitchen dance” as a teen; my sister and I put dishes away while my Mom prepared food—all of us moving around and near one another in smooth, protective, intimate moves… I want to recapture the silent magic of family mind-reading with Jacob.

I have had this feeling all by myself… and it’s so nice, I want to share it.

That’s unloading.

As for loading: I like to arrange the dishes in ways I find logical.  I’m actually joyful to ‘get the most out of a load’ using the tips & tricks I’ve proposed.

So all in all, I enjoy doing the dishwasher.  I want others to enjoy it, too …and I derive a lot of joy/pride doing it a certain way that I think others could enjoy, too.

3.   Sit in the middle.

It’s 3 minutes later.  Admire what you wrote as you move out of your second spot, too, leaving the heart of that matter to carry on, while moving slightly.  This is when you sidle up to wishful-you on your one side, and excited-you on the other—and imagine them still there, present, on either side of you.  Perhaps you’re lighthearted enough to extend one arm onto each of their backs, and give your buddies an encouraging squeeze of gratitude for not interrupting each other for once.

Who are you able to be, there, in the middle, with access to both perspectives?  What occurs to the ‘you’ who enjoying this third, attentive, middle-view?  Don’t write.  Just let yourself muse/mumble out loud.

In my dishwashing example:

Thanks, you guys!  I heard a deep longing for teamwork, and I sense some mourning: perhaps things will simply never be the way they used to be.  Sorry—it’s true.

As for fairness… aren’t there many ways to distribute tasks fairly?  Isn’t it wonderful that I enjoy loading the dishwasher just so, and dancing the kitchen into place when it’s done?

Perhaps my pride in ‘getting the most out of each load’ actually inhibits Jacob, because I’m more enthusiastic, more exacting, more motivated…

…Perhaps this isn’t particularly about what I want from my hubby?  Perhaps it’s more about trusting I can afford to be generous?

The Silver Platter I Promised

Reflection grants you deeper access to your own Joy, and serves it, as I promised, freshly, in each moment, as if on a shiny, silver platter. From inhabiting an un-torn middle that embraces both of your perspectives, your heart will be prepared; your words and deeds more fit for human consumption.  So take the time to make that platter shine. See your oh-so-human reflection in it.  Compassion and respect for yourself bring about something magical between you and your neighbors.

If trusting in ‘magic’ feels scary, meditate.  If keeping the exercise short felt too rushed, expand it: You can resolve to attend to only one ‘mood’ or ‘mode’ at a time on the back-burner of your mind while you go about your day.  (You go about your day in the otherwise regular way.)  …Step one becomes day one, step 2 is day 2, and you’ll feel a metaphysical, more than physical, middle-view on day 3.

The Benefit of Emotional Hygiene

What came of it in my dishwashing example?
After sitting with the parts of me that had been tearing left and right—after consciously inhabiting only one at a time, I became more tender and forgiving of myself –more centered.  This made me more approachable, less bottled-up, and more able to hear & believe my husband.  Turns out, he’s human, too, and also had a lot going on inside, that was puzzling him, too.  A few days after my reflection, without a deadline or a resolution to, we simply addressed the subject of dishes in an un-charged way.  It was different from previous attempts.

He repeated something I’d heard him say before, but this time he said it, the process above had cleared so much of my own anxiety, I could hear him better.

He told me he didn’t really like loading and unloading the machine.  He re-iterated that he enjoys hand-washing fragile items and frequently-used things as a nice break from all the mental work he does. I’d simply dismissed as unbelievable before. My guilt in that department turned to enthusiasm about the machine.

I imagined being the sole person in charge of the dishwasher; loading it up like I’m playing a game to get the most stuff positioned just right; doing my beautiful kitchen dance alone as a celebration of my heritage—time to celebrate far-flung family.  And I’d try to drop my guilt at watching him do the hand-wash items. 

Jacob looked incredulous that this would last long, or work, but he loved the idea of not touching the machine ever again.

Of course we help each other a bit, and take over completely when one of us is unwell, but this is now the standard division of labor at my house.  Who’d’a thunk we’d prefer an ‘unfair’ distribution of tasks where we each only do what we like?  This is really how it works now, in our family—we’re both ecstatic about it, and have been for years.

Who knew?

Who knew the awkward, latent turmoil between meals was such an opening to depth and belonging!  I certainly never expected to find, among dishes, a lesson on how wonderfully diverse people can be; how happy, or, indeed, complimentary our quirks.  Such sustenance, all in the space between meals!

If the space has lasted long enough, if you’d like another meal soon, take a risk, and invite them over again, and for support, consider my workshop on the 5 questions.  It’s a subtle-yet-straightforward approach to finding out what your neighbors might be able to mean to you; what they might do for you or others with great joy—to make life sweet, together.  Because even if as those who love to cook often say, the way to a [person]’s heart is through their stomach… you might want to map out some alternate routes between hearts!

 

I hope the steps in this article were helpful to you…?  I’m trying a new of blogging, so let me know how it feels, either via the space below, or by email!

I’m always looking for more questions, more conundrums, and more celebrations to write about. If you have a ‘neighbor situation’, I want to know!

Yelling Nonviolence

Gogol Bordello - Rock in Rio Madrid 2012
Gogol Bordello – Rock in Rio Madrid 2012

I never had a favorite band — and I claimed not to like ‘angry’ music — until my jaw dropped at Gogol Bordello’s righteous indignation.  I am angry! about

  • inequity,
  • seriousness and superficiality,
  • how heartlessly the hardships of displacement or financial poverty are topped off with discrimination by those of us who suffer spiritual/developmental poverty.

‘Angry’ is not really the right word for Gogol Bordello, though: they are WAAAAAAY too much fun – deep fun.  They call their intellectual yet plain-speak, utterly poetic shanty-rants “gypsy punk.”  Whatever you call it, it’s my go-to, my medicine, whether I’m down or ecstatic.  I now have a favorite kind of music, and it yells in NVC, cries over us/them separation, and soothes the soul:

Of course there is no us and them
But them they do not think the same…
– they do not think the same…
– it’s them who do not think!

They never step on spiritual path,
They paint their faces so differently from ours,
And if you listen closely
That war it never stops
That war it never stops
That war!

~Illumination

The humor and self-conscious irony is apparent to those who know GB’s music.

What ‘war’ do you think is inherent in your or my own culture/language-use?

Please share in the comments!

  • How might one point out separation and injustice without perpetuating it?
  • What attitudes work best in awareness-raising, in your experience?
  • How do you avoid making enemy images for ‘them’, cope with the pain of feeling separate, and expand ‘little us’ to include ‘All = Us’?

Touch

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.

I wonder:

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!

Please respond in the comments below!

Finally! A platform putting our Contributions, Data, & Power IN OUR OWN HANDS!

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.

splicious square
click the pic to fund the splish!

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 Viability Truly 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:Bitcoin net

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Every time we invite a friend to connecct via splicious,VRM - CRM we are inviting the mainstreaming of a new paradigm in communication: pull over push marketing, the intention economy, and straightforward accountability to appropriate-level connection.

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?

Please spread the word to fund the splicious *you* wish to see! http://rkthb.co/42500

 

Leadership as Meaning-making in a Community of Practice

MAKING COMMON SENSE
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.

Support the authors here via this link.

 

 

 

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.

Film: 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 http://termsandconditionsmyapplymovie.tumblr.com

 

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)  “Babble-on”

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.

 

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?

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.

This post was inspired by https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152098060379759&set=a.10150091346724759.281668.173437729758&type=1&relevant_count=1  — 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.