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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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: