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

We talked about the political underpinnings of different systems, and my takeaway (his contention) is that it's all just software in the end and so the political arguments are mostly a moot point. It's much more about the apps people choose to build on them. I say "mostly" because a mainnet blockchain can't escape its technocratic values (rents go to the geeks); and a Holochain app that's accessed through the HOLO system can't escape its communitarian ones. Beyond that it's still just a matter of "best tool for the job", and I still think Holochain wins in most applications. I was also surprised to hear him agree with me that he thinks Scuttlebutt probably has the best embedded community values of all, given his outspoken criticism of reputation systems. I guess it has the "right" sort of reputation.

Since then he's started a thread similar to the rather antagonistic one I felt was necessary to draw out some of his values. He's completely unapologetic about his viewpoint now, which is actually a great thing. Discussing these topics in the open was what I always wanted, and it will help us collectively come to greater awareness about the battles that are being fought here. There's still a lot of value in what he says, even if dangerous objectivism & utilitarianism still runs through it; and to be honest I agree with most of it.

I can't see us surviving if we elect some tech mogul as dictator of the world, though. And I think the likely outcome of a "one size fits all" global system is a different kind of imperialism that will kill diversity and culture world-wide. But hey, it'd still probably be a better situation than the one we're in. The reality is that our movements can't succeed without each other- Vinay and people like him need to work the global angle to make all the material and energy flows in the current system visible; and at the same time people like me need to be working the hyper-local angle and connecting those grassroots movements up to the global ledgers. Once connected they can find each other (and their materials), and eventually wean themselves off the dependency on global production and capitalism. If that last step fails, I suspect we'll likely just accelerate production and consumption more than is manageable and burn ourselves out of existence.

I hope we can both come around to sharing this viewpoint eventually- but I'll only engage with that process through love now. Being contrary and provocative has served its purpose (and certainly taken its toll on my health) and the debate is proceeding much more smoothly and respectfully from here forward, it seems.

Spending this week at Damanhur to see their doctors about the tick thing and their esoteric healers to get rid of some of this dank energy I've accumulated in recent weeks. It's great to be back in this beautiful place.