ValueFlows, Holochain and the “agent-centric” internet economy- a podcast series

I first discovered the ValueFlows project while searching for movements aiming to replace the current world economy with more sustainable and humane ways of organising. With apps like Buycott having found traction and new blockchain-based platforms like OriginTrail gathering momentum, the rise in consumer demand for transparent and trustworthy information on the products and services we buy seems set to skyrocket in the near future.

But consumer-curated platforms like Buycott & Good On You and even the next generation of blockchain-enabled supply chain tracking systems only go so deep. We need more than just guesses from third-parties or even information that lets us see inside the products we buy— we need information to show us what's going on externally, too. That includes the health and wellbeing of those involved in the production process as well as their communities; but much more critically it also includes the negative effects and impacts our production system has on the natural environment. And we need these capabilities delivered in a way that allows organisations to experiment with and own their own systems; not as part of a one-size-fits all global solution.

I think this recent interview with my friend, former colleague and collaborator Thomas Miller is the clearest and simplest I've ever been able to communicate the purpose of 'open value networks', the promise of Holochain and ValueFlows; and why I believe methods like this are the most likely means of salvation for our species. (more)

Steps toward the new resource economy

(A report from the first Holochain intensive / unofficial ValueFlows festival.)

Last weekend the first ever Holochain intensive was held on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. You'd be forgiven for wondering why that location was chosen - we don't usually get much attention from the tech industry down here compared to places like California - but for whatever reason there's a significant number of Aussies interested and involved in the Holochain ecosystem. Basically it happened here because enough of us came together to make it happen.

I'm dubbing it the "unofficial ValueFlows festival" because REA accounting was particularly dominant over the weekend, front and center in a lot of sessions and the thing that most people there seemed to be focused on. As the resident "expert" I wasn't really prepared for how many of the presentations and workshops I would be facilitating or how many conversations I would be having about it. This is largely due to Holochain's founder Art having been turned on to REA by Bob and Lynn of Mikorizal and championing those concepts to groups interested in building on the platform. (more)

An intoxicated Invasion Day conversation about ValueFlows and Holochain

For me today, ValueFlows feels like a simple concept. But I still remember my early days coming to terms with it, sitting in a co-working space in Athens with a bunch of Spanish speakers and trying not to be down on myself for understanding & contributing so little. Underneath the simplicity runs a great deal of complexity, and I've not always been the best at cutting through that to explain how it's all relevant to people. The same goes for Holochain's architectural decisions & theoretical underpinnings.

But last night was one of the better explanations I've channeled, so... I present it here for the opportunity to remix it with your own. How do you explain the importance of these systems? What real, tangible outcomes are you looking for in the world? (more)

Beyond partisan politics in distributed systems

Devcon4 was a blast- at least, the bits I was well enough to attend. I've been fighting a pretty serious illness for some months (ticks are the worst), but my housemate has a diagnosis now so hopefully the end is in sight for me. It was less about attending the conference and more about catching up and swapping notes with people, anyway. I stayed with the Circles UBI team (who are all amazing) and managed to bump in to Frankie from MetaMask & the Scuttleverse again, and meet some members of the 'Dark Crystal' team (which is a super exciting project- stay tuned!)

I also managed to catch up with Vinay Gupta in the corridor after Stewart Brand's talk and had a nice little chat with him. It was really quite delightful and it seemed like we both got a lot out of it. Turns out we're all a lot more reasonable in real life... who knew? :p (more)

Breaking through the blockchain echo-chamber: what I learned from arguing with visionaries on the internet

It's been a harrowing and lengthy internal debate for me trying to decide whether to publish this post. On the one hand, I've annoyed somebody very influential and this is likely to be seen as "poking the bear". Or it could be viewed as the plaintive whining of a someone with a fragile emotional constitution. It might not be a great career move.

On the other hand, it's clear to me that something is very wrong with how things unfolded. There are aspects of power imbalance, racism, privilege, suppression and misinformation at play here. It's not ok. The world should not be like this. Innovators should be supporting innovation, not stifling it.

It's been said before that blockchain is a 1% conversation, but in my experience the percentage is even smaller. There are a lot of hidden interests in the space— particularly people with huge financial investments and a lot to lose who don't take kindly to being challenged on their versions of progress. Not even by those who travel in their circles. If I am being attacked and silenced - as a white male software engineer - then what hope is there for anyone in a marginalised group to be heard?

Maybe all that writing this will achieve is that I look a bit silly, make an enemy and my life gets slightly more difficult. Maybe I've already made an enemy and writing this will make no difference at all. Who knows. I'm sure all of us involved are already more than a little ashamed of some of the things we said. I can only hope the overall outcomes of this piece will be constructive rather than destructive.

Because in the end, I have to go with "fuck it". This article isn't for that person. When I sit back and ask myself, "why did it matter so much", there's only one way to go with this. This article is for others with big ideas and small voices who would let themselves be pushed out of the debate. So I'll try to leave emotion and names out of it, and discuss what happened in the abstract. These themes affect all of us. It's important. (more)