A little coverage

I received three Google alerts involving my name this week.  All were related to my work with Occupy Wall Street.  Here they are, with a little commentary added by myself:

New Protest Apps Crowd-Sourced From Occupy Wall Street Hackers” by Tyler Kingkade.

Communities In Space: How Re-Framing Our Spaces Can Reshape Our Future” by Matt Cynamon.

Then we have “BLOG: Creating an alternative currency for the #globalrevolution ‘alternative world’ borg” by Brenda J. Elliott.  The article is somewhat inaccurate so I’ve written the following response.  I’d have posted in the comment section of the article but it’s too long, so here it is.

Brenda,

I’d like to applaud you on the most thoroughly researched post on my work with OWS to date.  There are a few inaccuracies I’d like to clear up:

First, the p2pfoundation isn’t involved in permabank.  At first we were using their wiki to document our efforts because they have a solid platform and community managers but we’ve since moved our documentation to wiki.occupyeverywhere.org.  It’s still very much incomplete and should greatly improve over the next 2-3 weeks.

Second, PermaBank is being written in Python/Django.  We were going to use Drupal to create a working demo but talented Python developers emerged so we’re going straight to the main event.

Third, FLO Solutions Working Group has no connection to the p2pfoundation except that we wrote up a page on their wiki.

Fourth, I don’t have any real connection to floEarth except that I’m friends with it’s creator.  If the project develops I might get more involved.

Fifth, it’s ‘Sarapis’ not ‘Serapis.’  Greek spelling.  I don’t know if you looked too deeply into who/what Sarapis is/was but I think you’ll find it interesting.

The tone of this piece makes it sound as if you’re describing some nefarious plot to take over the world when, if fact, my efforts are simply to help people use information technologies to create their own capital so they no longer have to rely on the currency politburo at the Federal Reserve.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss these issues further.

Thanks.

Favorite Bands of SxSW Showcase 2011 Part 1

I had the pleasure of listening to 850+ tracks from SxSW 2011 Showcase.  Nothing like a week of new music to make working on my computer an absolute pleasure.

Here’s a list of my favorite bands, with the best at the top.  So much great music!

black atlantic
black cherry
bliss n eso
braids
carusella
colour revolt
egyptrixx
el da sensei
two fresh
adam & Alma
analog rebellion
aphasia
the appleseed bast
b. bravo
baths
belleruche
bikini
bill baird
bloodgroup
blu
body language
bright light social hour
capo
cruel black dove
darren hanlon
depressed buttons
dual core
el-g
eli paperboy reed
epcot
french horn rebellion
geographer
the ghost of a saber tooth tiger
the glass
gun runner
harrys gym
horse thief
inspired flight
junius
kamp!
kastle
kendra morris
kevin devine and the goddam band
keys n krauts
karma’s big band
mv (misteur valaire)
norman palm
red queen
shuttle
spl
sun raw
torpedo boyz
tune-yards
unicorn kid
volkova sisters
bear driver
beat connection
chapter 24
christeene
dignan
diva gash
the eastern sea
ebony bones
electra
the fervor
foin bois
geko jones
goddess & she
goldheart assembly
the good natured
grieves
the growlers
holey bonar
headhunter
an horse
hospital ships
the hours
husalah
ingebright haker flaten
john vanderslice
k.flay
kenneth brian band
the kingston springs
lady friends and flowers
leah and the moonlighters
loch lomond
los rakas
maps & atlases
marco morales
midnight magic
natalie prass
semko containe taylor
the shinning twins
sister crayon
slim cessna’s auto club
small sins
smoking popes
spoek mathambo
wordburglar
worm ouroboros

As If We Couldn’t

If you listen to media’s murmuring, you’d think that the American people were ready to give up.  The bankers are too crafty, the corporations too powerful and the politicians too pliant.  We don’t know which way is up, where to turn or on whom to depend.  We’re lost, sad, unhappy, and maybe a little overweight.  For a few brief moments we had HOPE that that America’s most powerful institutions could still solve our problems during commercial breaks.  Yes we can, they whispered in our ears.  Yes we can…

As if we couldn’t. As if the American people couldn’t recognize a lie when it’s told to our face.  As if the American entrepreneur couldn’t maneuver around the obstacles created by international bankers and their confused economists.  As if the men and women in our Armed Forces who committed to defending our Constitution couldn’t stand up to anyone who demanded that they oppress their fellow citizens.  As if our farmers couldn’t team up to develop their own technologies, save their own seeds and reap their own harvests.  As if honest people couldn’t win elections.

“You can fool some people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”  I think Bob Dylan said that.  Americans are getting smarter – not the coastal elites who think reading the New York Times qualifies as civic participation – but the “dumb” Americans who’ve enough common sense to recognize that Big Government and Big Business have teamed up to steal our wealth while misdirecting us with the help of the corporate media.  But they don’t control everything on the internet, and as the veil is lifted, both the problems and solutions become much more clear.  I’m particularly interested in the solutions.

While Silicon Valley gets all the press for their trendy products, thousands of programmers, engineers and developers across the world continue to build the free, libre and open source technologies upon which local economies depend.  While multinational chemical companies receive prestigious awards for monopolizing agriculture, American farmers continue to share best practices, organizing seed banks and reach customers directly through farmer’s markets.  While central bankers act like economic gods with their reactionary monetary policies,  local entrepreneurs continue to discover new opportunities to create real value for their communities.

If you’re looking for problems, you’re going to find prestigious people in glossy magazines whining about the difficulties that lie ahead.  If you’re looking for solutions, you’re going to find unrecognized folks working  quietly and feverishly, as if the fate of the world depended on it.  The time for criticism is over.  The time for action is here.

If you’re interested in the emergence of the new, participatory, local-networked economy, what Buckminster Fuller would describe as “a new model that makes the existing models obsolete,” start reading about free/libre/open source technology and ask yourself this simple question: what if everyone had the tools they need to create what they want.

The best has yet to come.

Political Structure in 3D

Our society spends a lot of time talking about democracy but rarely defines it.  While the term comes from the Greek words ‘demos’ (people) and ‘kratos’ (power,) many political scientists have abandoned it due to widespread misuse and instead use the term polyarchy, which means ‘many rule.’  It was convincingly inserted into the academic lexicon by the the political scientist Robert Dahl in his 1971 book ‘Polyarchy.’

 

dahl2d

Dahl proposes that all political systems can be places on a graph with two axis: competitiveness and inclusiveness.  Competitiveness asks who can compete for political office.  Inclusiveness asks the extent to which people can determine who represents them.  We can apply the concept of ‘polyarchy’ to by asking these questions of two different political systems, those of America and Israel.
America has a two party system which makes it less competitive than Israel, which has a dozens of popular parties which enable more people with more diverse perspectives to compete.  America allows a larger percentage of it’s citizens to vote than Israel does, so America is a more inclusive state.

Dahl’s definition of polyarchy is good, but it’s not complete.  His theory doesn’t account for the most powerful force in politics:  information distribution.  Those who control access to information have tremendous political power because they can amplify certain elements within society and silence others.

Openness (transparency and accessibility) addresses the issue of information distribution.  In a state with positive openness, information flows between government and society in an efficient manner that facilitates public participation in political processes.  In a state with negative transparency, misinformation flows between government and society, enabling a secretive ruling class to exploit the general public.

By adding openness to Dalh’s polyarchy graph as the third dimension,  the possibility of a relationship between competitiveness and inclusiveness arises within the newly created 3D space.  This relationship manifests itself in the graph z=x^3 + y^3.  In this graph, a positively transparent society appears in the top left area of the plane while a negatively transparent society appears in the bottom right area one.

Let’s see what this relationship reveals:

  • A society that is inclusive but not competitive has a negative transparency because a lot of people are supporting a poor selection of leaders, making the construction of false realities essential to convince people  the situation is acceptable.  Ex. the Soviet Union had a vast propaganda machine while the highly competitive.
  • A society that is competitive but not inclusive is highly transparent because each included individual receives an unusually high return on his or her ability to select good leadership leaders.  Ex. 19th century America had a very active, highly decentralized news and information distribution sector (newspapers).
  • A society that is both competitive and inclusive would be extremely open because so many citizens would be have both the ability select from a diverse set of potential candidates, leading to mass participation in the political process.  Ex. Austria has five major political parties and the highest voter turnout in the world (minus nations that make voting compulsory, and Malta, which is tiny.)

We’re in the early stages of ‘participatory’ politics as new tools (ex. OpenCongress) are enable the public to increase transparency and accessibility of information to levels impossible before the advent of networked technologies.  A tremendous increase in government transparency seems to be imminent.  If we turned our 3D graph into a 4D animation, we’d be able to track different societies paths towards more participatory political processes.

We need a common, quantitative understanding of political imperative so our government’s can create purposeful foreign policies that encourage competitiveness, inclusiveness and openness.  A simple way for national governments to advance a foreign policy based on quantitative principle would be to raise tariffs with closed nations and lower tariffs with closed ones.

Trust People, Not Words

If there is one thing I learned growing up the child of ‘branding professionals’ it’s that words can’t be trusted because clever people are willing to twist their meaning to meet their client’s demands.  I believe this simple fact is responsible for much confusion throughout human history.

There is a defense against the manipulation of meaning and it’s simply to stop trusting words and start trusting people.  This is a defense the Eastern masters have been practicing for thousands of years.

Before discounting this approach to life as impractical, ask yourself this question: how can people lie without using words?  All people can do is act.  Your only task is interpreting that action.  This becomes easier as you develop preferences.

I prefer people with the following qualities:

  1. Honest – Openness – Transparency: Are you willing to teach me what you do best?
  2. Dignity – Integrity – Localism: Are you acting voluntarily and with authenticity?
  3. Passion – Energy – Love: Do you feel like you’re exactly where you’re meant to be?

A person or brand can use whatever lovely language they like, but if their actions aren’t embodying these qualities, they’re wasting my time and their own.

Life is too short to be afraid of yourself.

We Have Everything We Need

Earlier this week I created – for the first time – a presentation that explains my life’s work.  I’ve delivered it to a few people in it’s designless form and it feels natural.  In fact, I have to resist grinning as I roll through it.  I’ll post the presentation as soon as it looks as obvious as it feels.  Rest assured… we have everything we need.  😉