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  In my book, it’s good that not all ingredients come from/depend on one team, so that as they become outdated, parts can be upgraded independently.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.

Is Your Data Public Property?

There are arguments to be made that trusting the world at large is best, and not to let fear dominate us or hamper us in exercising our rights to free speech.  There are counter-arguments that say we must not be foolish and tempt abusers, or forget that some of us are not free to share, will be oppressed or discriminated against based on outdated biases, gossip, stories and police records that shouldn’t matter anymore and things that should be forgiven or forgotten after a period of grace.  Basically, the latter argument states that we are not all free to exercise free speech, due to fear from each other, future employers, or, in some cases, (potential) government(s).  Which is absolutely the case, when ‘we’ is international.


With that question as backdrop, and not arguing one way or the other for or against Big Data, I recommend reading this article regarding the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for her decades of research on the Commons.  The article explains the word ‘Commons’ and the misunderstanding known as ‘the Tragedy of the Commons.’


What technological abilities do you wish you had, that would enable you to offer your data as part of the commons, yet put you in a position to help make the rules?

When All You Have is a Hammer…

“When all you have is a hammer,” the saying goes, “…everything looks like a nail.”


So far, this blog looks like a discombobulated series of advertisements for Agency.  In reality, I must curb my enthusiasm, and focus on the one thing I need Agency to do for me.

What’s that?


Well, for a while, my neighbor-interviewing has been on hold.  I have this fantastic, tiny handful of open-ended questions that, in my experience, result in profound trust-building between myself and each neighbor, and a shared awareness of what treasure troves of meaningful connection-points we each and all are.  I come out of these appointments knowing who I want to connect that neighbor to, why, what they will get out of it…  I even know that no computer would ever make the connections my heart is able to make, and if it could, that it wouldn’t have the sense of timing and feel for appropriateness that you or I do.  After these interviews, I feel physically grateful to be alive, here, now.


But I’m afraid to betray their trust by not being able to connect often enough myself to foster the lost community I see.  I’m afraid that I’m not able to afford the time to connect with enough people to connect each of us to enough others to enthuse us all to keep in touch.  I’m afraid that, if I do a half-good job, I’ll get neighbors connected, but not connected enough to trust each other enough or to save each other enough time, to make my efforts redundant/obsolete.  I’m afraid to have an online community of any kind, because ‘open’ ones spread the energy and attention of the enthused too thin and too far, while closed ones put us in boxes that “the community builder” defines –  be they profile questions or ‘neighborhood’ boundaries.  I’m afraid, also, that any central database with the intimate information I get in interviews would be a vulnerability I’m unable to be sufficiently responsible for.


More than afraid, I’ve been frustrated.  These interviews are magical.  Neighbors say things that, when I immediately repeat back their own sentence, surprise them.  I’m bringing up old dreams.  I’m fostering new relationships.  I’m practicing an old art while asking new questions, pointing out wise ways of being in our world — by reflecting my neighbors’ own words.  I needed a medium in which to neutrally capture and through which to gently remind neighbors of their answers, their desires, their perfectly possible dreams.  I want to remind them of themselves as human resources surrounded by human resources, and support the development of our ideas, one-on-one, and – later – with other neighbors.  I know that a regular check-in from someone who truly cares does wonders, and I’ve been frustrated that I had no support-medium that could make this avocation sustainable.


But more than frustrated, I’m determined.  This process is teachable.  If I can reach a critical mass (I’ve done the math; it would be a part-time/full-time job for 1 year, preferably 2) a critical mass of neighbors will spontaneously interview one another and, of those, a critical mass (minimum estimate 2-5) will be as passionate about this as I am, wanting to do it as a part-time/full-time job for a while…  And I’m determined to – even if I don’t get paid during my pilot years – support my apprentice-colleagues, and their apprentice-colleagues, and theirs, and theirs – at least with healthcare, but, in order to not select for previously-privileged persons, preferably with an income.  That’s right: I’m determined to make Purposeful Neighborliness a temp job.  It might be like taking a vow of poverty (though no less than it takes to stay living where one lives) for 2 years.  It might be best to only allow people to do this for a ‘term’ of 2 years.  But this way at least all of us who want to, can give 2 years of our lives to this without fearing we might have to move, or stop doing our rounds due to self-sacrifice that borders on martyrdom.  Therefore, this profession needs to earn money, or justify funds being donated.


The profession of ‘listener’ needs to validate its existence, show its impact, qualify its practitioners.  Even if NOP becomes a non-profit – even if alumni eventually sponsor the whole thing – to fund growth at the rate I think the practice will, we have to do more than pull heartstrings: no racism-perpetuating images of ‘underserved’ populations being ‘served.’  And I will not grow it ‘strategically’ – grassroots only: no debates with socially-impoverished NIMBY-donors justifying a focus on some neighborhoods over others: this is a systemic healing for a systemic ailment that cannot be blamed on anything or anyone in particular.  This kind of Listening can help us all, but only if it’s done with the heart, voluntarily, by someone who is actually a neighbor… who is not suffering in the process.  THEN it has results – far-reaching results in realms like depression medication consumption, caring enough to compost, and the obvious, like caring for the elderly and making us all safer.  I’m determined to prove this, and earn the funding, versus beg.  Therefore, we need testimonials – lots of them.  We need evidence of the far-reaching results – lots of it.  We need data – lots of it.


I’m not only determined, I’m excited.  Although I see less meaningful, tender, psychologically and physically vulnerable data being harvested (see Big Data) and used, sometimes for our education, sometimes to scare us, sometimes to benefit the already-privileged and widen gaps, or to benefit organizations, but not the individuals whose data it is… Although I see that happening, I am excited to have found a way of storing – and sharing access to – data, that keeps the ownership of the data in the hands of the individual it belongs to, so that the person whose data it is, consciences the choice to share/withhold, and creates the terms and conditions that will benefit humanity, in order to allow anyone access.  Neighbor-wise, it protects those of us with an unreasonable ex, with family members of vulnerable age or capacity, and those of us who don’t usually speak for fear of unwanted attention… without making us 100% anonymous, or irresponsible for our words.


So I see a medium with which to paint our success, fellow neighbor-listeners.  I see a medium that honors the tender privacy in which our and our neighbors’ insights first blossom.  I see a medium with which to document, celebrate, and facilitate OFFLINE successes without making them public/naked.  I see a medium that allows our neighbors to share intimate wishes with us, with others, in the safety of relevant anonymity, yet be personally approachable for support from those with complimentary needs (people we Listeners know and connect them to, but also by others) directly.  All because of the ways that Agency works, making this, and many other unprecedented things, possible.  So it’s only natural I’d be tempted to point out other use cases on my blog.  But I’ll try to curb my wayward enthusiasm – which might actually just be wayward anxiety, nerves that my application has to wait on other, more profitable applications.  That I must dream longer, wait longer, or do something meanwhile, work harder, prove more, to deserve investment that an application solving HIPAA-problems would get in a heartbeat.  Hmm…


I’m in it for the long-run: I’m in it for the Now.  I’m in it for the dream, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, the dream of the beloved community, all standing strong together, not against an enemy, but through light and darkness nevertheless.  And I’m blogging to help the dream of Agency become reality.  Investors, donors, programmers, designers, journalists… welcome.  The world needs all kinds, and so does Agency.

Indra’s Net

I’m fascinated with identity, connection, and the importance of right relationship.  In thinking about interconnectedness, images of diamonds, whose faces are all facing other diamonds’ faces (so that the whole looks like intricately fractured glass, or densely clustered bubbles, or cells) often come to mind for me.  When I speak of these images, because of my emphasis on the reflection/exchange going on at/through each surface, Indra’s Net often comes to mind for others.  It’s a nice image to share.thiele_leslie_indra_midas


Indra is the king of the Vedic deities.  Over his palace, it was said, hangs a net that stretches in all directions to infinity.  At each node of the net, where the gossamer strands intersect, hangs a beautiful jewel.   And each facet of every jewel provides a reflection of all the other jewels.  The ancient sages insisted that the jewels hanging from Indra’s net are not enduring substances.  They do not have an essential nature.  Rather, each jewel is the manifestation of relationships of interdependence.  Each jewel exists only as the cavalcade of reflections to which it contributes.


All the strands of Indra’s net are connected.  Sever one, and the whole is weakened.  This is the upshot of interdependence.  But the jewels on Indra’s net also mirror each other.  They are, in the end, nothing but the aggregation of such reflections.  Relationship, not an individual essence, is their core reality.”

– Leslie Paul Thiele, who teaches political theory and serves as Director of Sustainability Studies at the University of Florida, speaking in this ROROTOKO interview.

Trusting the Media

Hypothesis 1:

A social network, a B2B network, CRM software, the press, etc. 

is only useful to the degree

that we, the users, 

trust the neutrality of the medium itself.

For example:

  • storing sensitive legal/medical/business information centrally (encrypted or not), or e-mailing it (unencrypted), tempts hacking.
  • what we do/don’t post says how we want to be seen by our connections, any future employers, and by the world at large.
  • “Our big, global volunteer community (the people who make Wikipedia) have always felt that advertising would have a major effect on our ability to stay neutral, and ultimately ads would weaken the readers’ overall confidence in the articles they are reading.” – Wikipedia FAQ


Hypothesis 2:

Any medium

is only trustworthy to the degree

that we, the users,

enjoy control, ownership, and autonomy.


For example, Protunitya B2B application built on the Agency platform, featuring

  • zero centralized storage + zero Xeroxes (unlike email) = zero reward for hacks
  • reputation-tied fact validation, the right to be forgotten, and complete control of who sees what
  • users as owners of our data, and of the medium itself



Privacy AND Transparency, BOTH

Like I said in my previous post, many of the conversations around Privacy and Transparency juxtapose the two in a dichotomy, and there’s good reason for that.


However, digital information is a lot like other information: it’s not EITHER public OR private.  It has an infinite variety of in-between states: digital information is compartmentalized based on who has been entrusted with it.  Incentivizing trustworthy behavior, and making the publication of sensitive information something that requires conscious effort, is not just a legal (top-down) struggle.  It’s a responsibility we ALL have toward each other at one level or another.  Any business making desirable, responsible behavior the easy and natural behavior online, is as much in the social ‘medium’ business as they are in the social ethics business.


If you’d be willing, I have 3 questions I have to ask before I’ve built up properly toward a punchline that may just leave you inspired.  That’s my goal.  (How’s my driving?  Please comment.)   To imagine the digital world worked more like the real world…

  • What if your identity to anyone you relate to online, and their identity to you, could be as unique as the relationship itself?
  • What if your digital information were not lumped into self-describing ‘profile information,’ and, instead, it were atomized into redundant, equally true, different-looking bits of information (e.g. DOB / birthday / horoscope / whether or not you’re over 21)  –each appropriate to share with different contacts, who you’ve granted permission to use the information for reasons unique to the relationship?
  • What if transparent access to any individual bit of your information were something you could decide to only grant someone insofar it’s relevant to the relationship?


If this were the case, information could be shared directly on the basis that it is relevant and valuable to the relationship.  (For credibility, of course, the data snippets should each be verified; no lying.)

I hope you follow my line of reasoning in these questions, and add it up with my previous post… and come one step further with me, to taste my excitement about a world in which what I tell you about myself stays between you & me, and what I tell you about my neighbor requires her approval, first.


What if we all had the ability to not share information permanently… but to merely validate information for a period of time; merely grant temporary access to a digital ‘proof’ of a tiny sliver of your identity at a time…
and what if doing this, and retracting that permitted access again when it’s obsolete to the relationship,
were as easy as, say, dragging and dropping an appointment on a calendar?


Welcome to Agency.