Librarians Share Benefits of Controlled Digital Lending

Librarians and advocates gathered in the Hart Senate Building to talk to policymakers about Controlled Digital Lending

This summer, representatives from the Internet Archive joined librarians and advocates in Washington D.C., to talk with  policymakers about how Controlled Digital Lending, or CDL, helps their communities. The resounding response from Congressional offices was that CDL “just makes sense” and they want to support libraries that embrace technology to fulfill their public service missions.

As technology advances, so too does the ability to lend books efficiently, easily, and broadly, specifically with CDL. With CDL, a library digitizes a book it owns and lends out one secured digital version to one user at a time. It is the digital equivalent of traditional lending. CDL is not intended to replace or circumvent a library’s existing e-book subscriptions but instead serves as a powerful tool for bridging the gap between print and electronic resources for readers and researchers alike.

Lisa Weaver, Jim Michalko, Michael Blackwell, Tom Blake, Lila Bailey and Michelle Wu

Through powerful stories, librarians explained that CDL is benefiting specific communities by:

  • Providing access to rural patrons who find it challenging to physically check out a book;
  • Protecting materials from damage in natural disasters from fire to floods;   
  • Saving the cost of transporting books to other branches to be loaned;
  • Allowing access to rare, fragile books or those out of print and not in circulation;
  • Preserving vulnerable cultural heritage materials for indigenous people;    
  • Supplementing materials at K-12 and university libraries that are suffering budget cuts;
  • Providing historical context and fighting misinformation online; and
  • Increasing access for people with disabilities, the elderly and students in off hours.
Dave Hansen, Meredith Rose, Mark Malonzo, Mary Minow, Kyle K. Courtney, Chris Freeland and Michael Colford

The concluding message to Congress was that libraries are using CDL today and communities and librarians love it.  We were told that Congress wants to hear more. To tell your story of how CDL has helped your community (e.g., did you find the genealogy you were looking  for or the book you needed for a school project?) and why you love CDL, leave a comment below or contact lila at archive dot org.

Posted in Lending Books, News | 14 Comments

Remembering the First DWeb Camp, July 2019

By Frances Sawyer

Kanyon Sayers-Roods welcomes participants to camp.

With a sharp yip and a deep ‘Ohhh’ cried into the Pacific evening sky, Kanyon “Coyote Woman” Sayers-Roods welcomed hackers, activists, artists, policymakers, and engineers from around the globe to the California Coast, traditional land of the Ohlone & Amah Mutsun peoples, to share in a week of learning, building, and dreaming a better web. 

Held on a farm near Pescadero, California, the first ever DWeb Camp brought together more than 375 campers from six continents to workshop, relax, build, and strengthen the community working on the decentralized web. The camp followed in the footsteps of the 2016 Locking the Web Open Summit at the Internet Archive and the 2018 Decentralized Web Summit held at the S.F. Mint, but with a new spin: what would happen if we brought this deep conversation about technology to a sublime, wind-whipped farm on the coast and over the course of a week, built a temporary, remote, networked community of ideas and ambition in nature? 

It was a week of radical creation! A little bit Burning Man, a little bit Chaos Communication Camp, DWeb Camp proved raucous, thoughtful, experimental and energizing for all involved. 

Here are a few highlights from the week: 

The Mushroom Farm 

Volunteers build the tents, creating a small village in only a few days.

After scouting a half dozen sites, Wendy Hanamura, leader of the DWeb organizing team had a feeling: The Mushroom Farm, could become the perfect place  for this gathering. It didn’t matter that the farm didn’t quite yet have strong Internet connectivity. Or that the bathrooms weren’t scaled to 300 people’s needs. The philosophy and ethos of the farm and its stewards were absolutely aligned with those articulated by decentralized organizers — it was time for our communities to grow together to help foster deep connections within ourselves, our communities and the planet.

A few miles south of Pescadero, in sight of the waves on Gazos Beach, The Mushroom Farm was once home to one of Campbell Soup’s industrial mushroom farms — producing 70,000 pounds of mushrooms per week. More than a decade ago, it was sold in a distressed asset sale and, in the intervening years, its 700+ acres have been nurtured back to life to create a gathering place for disruptive thinking on renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, technology, and wellness. 

Nadeem Kassam, owner and visionary behind The Mushroom Farm, joins the volunteer crew for a delicious picnic dinner made from local produce.

Home to native, perennial grasslands, an experimental vegetable and hemp farm, old warehouses filled with redwood beams, and more, as a site, it channels a strain of futurism that has long been cultivated on the western edge of the U.S. For DWeb Camp participants, it proved the ideal setting to encourage long-form thinking, open dialogue, and reflection on the evolution and design of technology. 

The Big Build: By Community, For Community 

Katie Barrett, Wendy Hannamura, Ben Hanna, and Joanna Antigone Nastos (camp names: Mama Badger, DreamWeaver, Twizz, and Miss. Frizzle) smiling at the beginning of a new camp day.

Four days before most participants arrived, a crew of 50+ volunteers descended upon The Mushroom Farm to muck the bathrooms, set up three sprawling tent sites, paint signs, prep food, build the camp’s shared spaces, and put the final touches on the site before the crowds arrived. 

These volunteers provided the final push after months of preparations by The Mushroom Farm, DWeb organizers, experts from Custom Camps and the Internet Archive.

Together, they created an ethos of openness and respect, articulated in the DWeb Camp Pillars

These pillars were affirmed in those first days as participants from across the globe —old friends and those who had never met— forged deep connections in the process of building the camp. From posting friendly warning signs about local ticks and poison oak crafted by Companion-Platform designers Calvin Rocchio and Lexi Visco to working with the chefs (including several Esalon kitchen alums) to enlarge the outdoor kitchen, volunteers went to work to establish a sense of community that would last throughout the week. Each night, the volunteer crew gathered for a hearty meal of local produce and cheeses, getting excited to welcome the hundreds of newcomers later in the week. 

Installing the Mesh 

Against this stunning natural backdrop, what’s the first thing the builders of the next web did? They built a mesh network, of course! 

Jenny Ryan of People’s Open Network helps make buttons to identify camp volunteers.

Several weeks before the crowds arrived, Network Coordinator, Benedict Lau of Toronto Mesh and an army of volunteers, many from People’s Open Network, scampered across the Mushroom Farm from the Mesh Hall to the campsites with zip ties, cables, routers, and wireless radios to build a working mesh network throughout the camp footprint. With 6 nodes across camp, this network allowed for full peer-to-peer connectivity for camp participants. 

This early team of volunteers laid the groundwork of six nodes for the system and throughout the week, construction continued as more users were added with each arriving device. As participants arrived, they were given an introduction to the network, joined with the open credentials, then given the tools to teach others about its operation by our team of Network Stewards. On the final day of workshops, the team led the installation of the 7th node, completing the “Mesh Playground.” Soon, all were up and running full speed ahead, linking phones and laptops across the camp to Raspberry Pis in the Mesh Hall, running decentralized apps such as a Matrix Homeserver, and opening a Secure Scuttlebutt Pub on the local network — a decentralized web come to life! 

Soon, supporting the mesh and teaching people about their own experiences in building community networks were leaders from around the globe: Nico Pace and cynthia el khoury, coordinators from Association for Progressive Communications helped gather community network leaders from around the world. Soledad Luca de Tena, a director at South Africa’s first community network, had flown in from Cape Town. TB Dinesh, a mesh specialist, came from Bangalore. Hiure Queiroz, Marcela Guerra and their baby Amina travelled together from Brazil. All week, Luandro Vieira smiled as he typed away and troubleshooted the network expansion, leveraging his experience in building a community network in Moinho, Quilombola village Brazil. At their side were co-creators from People’s Open in Oakland, Toronto Mesh, Guifi.net, the Internet Archive, and more. They highlighted the LibreRouter, an important open hardware being launched to address long-standing hardware problems for rural connectivity. 

Opening the Gates 

Map of DWeb Camp

With the campsite and mesh ready to go, the gates of the Mushroom Farm opened Thursday afternoon and the first eager participants arrived. They had signed up without quite knowing what to expect, but as head Weaver, Kelsey Breseman noted, “anything you can be excited about without knowing what to expect is cool.” 

As they entered, participants were assigned a campsite and immediately welcomed into imaginative world created by the organizers. There was the Mesh Hall, the whirring, technical heart of the first ever DWeb Camp. Cables flying (neatly), drones disemboweled on tables, Oculus headsets, white boards covered with concept designs and welcome signs for mini-workshops on just about any decentralized topic imaginable. 

Trav Fryer made a photo booth connected to Scuttlebutt so that participants could take selfies to share with their friends via the decentralized social media site.

A bit further into the campus hub, and the blockchain courtyard contained a photo-booth where participants could take a selfie with a Secure Scuttlebutt-networked camera, paint a sign about their project, or sit in the shade beneath verdant natural awnings. A few steps further, and the Universal Access Hall, where comfy low mattresses lined the walls and participants sipped tea while joining one of hundreds of small group conversations. 

Hidden in different pockets throughout this space, experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation talked policy, Secure Scuttlebutt creators imagined a new form of decentralized social media, and representatives from Consensys, Holo, Orchid, Web 3, Coil, Gun, Dat, Web Torrent, Jolocom, Protocol Labs, and Solid held court on infrastructure design, new protocols and data structures. There were spaces to talk about archiving where the Internet Archive showcased its model of a miniaturized version of its collection and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative demoed their latest thinking on data infrastructure and political risk. 

Outside the hall, the sprawling outdoor picnic area crests the bluff alongside a hang out area with a make your own name-tag button station, an outdoor kitchen, and picnic areas with countless ongoing conversations, all framed by a bonfire pit and the Dome of Decentralization. In this space, participants settled into the whimsy, the creativity, the ethos of the land. Then, for the next three days, leapt into thinking, experimenting, and creating against the backdrop of the relentless pounding of Pacific waves. 

Many big conversations too place in the shade of the Dome of Decentralization in the camp’s outdoor living room.

Experiments Galore! 

Jasper shows off how to fly a drone.

In such a setting, experimentation reigned!

Participants brought ideas, projects in prototype, and ready to break demos, excited to have their solutions picked apart by their brainy peers. A thirteen-year-old boy, Jasper, chaperoned by his dad, worked with older coders to create a 3D map of the farm using customized software and patterned drone flights. Tables in the Mesh Room held rotating conversations about projects across the network stack: Kyle Drakeshowcased his recreation of Geocities, complete with MIDI sound files playing happily in the background. Just across the room, Bryan Newbold invited participants to print or take away some 10 million journal articles. Throughout the week, the ten DWeb Camp Global Fellows were easy to find, leading discussions on building community networks and P2P apps and sharing their experiences as local leaders of decentralization. Every once in awhile, these conversations were interrupted by a new murder as a campus-wide game of ASSASSINS played out. 

Bryan Newbold hosted a data swap where he shared more than 10 million academic articles in his collection.

The energy of the hacker space permeated the whole of the conversation and constantly reminded participants that the theories discussed, values articulated, and ideas for a better web were not simply abstract wish lists, but services that can and should be built. 

Old Guard & the New 

For the young creators in attendance, there was inspiration and caution offered by a host of the early pioneers of the Web. Sir Tim Berners Lee was in attendance, offering the history of the World Wide Web. Mary Lou Jepsen, who held senior product roles at Google and Facebook, hosted a conversation on privacy and the emerging central role of big data in the biomedical field. Brewster Kahle hosted a data swap, diving into conversations about the Internet Archive, archiving, and the evolution around the decentralized web conversation. 

Mary Lou Jepsen leads a conversation on practical telepathy and the importance of privacy in a world where more and more personal data is collected and put to use.

The last evening, an impromptu gathering of the “Old Guard” as they self-branded took place long into the night. What was it like when the web was just starting? What worked and what didn’t? They told and retold the origin stories of the field, leaving younger participants with the tingling feeling that history was not so removed, but pulsing, present and a part of us.

Wayback Wheel & A New Ethos for the Web 

Participants gather for an informal discussion on climate change beneath the Wayback Wheel awning.

The southern end of the campsite was framed by a very sacred space, the Wayback Wheel. This piece, a beautiful canopied structure framing an open fire built by Joshua Tree, originated at Standing Rock and then traveled to Burning Man. Only before DWeb Camp did it find its home on the Mushroom Farm. Oriented toward the cardinal directions, this piece was programmed throughout the week by the artistic-technological educator Andi Wong and proved a centering sculptural home for conversations around the values of decentralized technology and building a world with respect for the elements and earth. 

At the Wheel, the camp worked to center indigenous voices — beginning with Kanyon’s opening welcome and threaded throughout with indigenous and tribal representation from across the globe present. There Andi also hosted hands-on activities for the children in attendance, whose ages ranged from a few months old to teens, helping them make art and create their own world within the camp. It also corralled conversations with Earth Species Project founders, Brit Selvitelle and Asa Raskin on whether and how we could use neural nets and machine learning to understand animal communication. Over cocktails one night, about 20 attendees gathering to discuss the rapidly changing climate — and the role technologists have in contributing toward solutions. 

By design and thanks to the supportive setting, this conversation about values permeated throughout the week. In a dynamic, well-attended talk in the Hyper Lounge, Asa Raskin and Tristan Harris from the Center for Humane Technology gave a talk about how lightspeed advances in technology (and particularly ad-based business models) have overwhelmed our natural evolutionary defenses. Later, they listened intently to a group of Web 3.0 builders and brainstormed solutions to making more human-centered technologies. These global ethicists came to learn  how decentralization could play a role in that better future.  

Asa Raskin and Tristan Harris give a talk on ethics.

The importance of these big conversations were wonderfully framed by Mai Ishikawa Sutton in her blog post, “Transforming Ourselves to Transform Our Networks” at the beginning of camp. And perhaps the greatest gift of DWeb Camp to its participants was that it created a relaxed, thoughtful space that could build the trust needed to have these hard conversations. 

Onward: Homeward Bound with a Call To Action  

The Kids of DWeb Camp hosted their very own parade to kick off the closing ceremony. Throughout the week, their creativity connected them to each other and the land as they made art, met new friends, and learned about where food comes from from the farmers.

Whether dancing away by firelit to SF Airship Acoustic, sharing stories over a cup of hot cacao, or laughing riotously during the talent show, participants at DWeb Camp fostered the relationships that will only strengthen this movement toward a better web. The space offered by the Mushroom Farm and cultivated by the DWeb Camp creators and all its partners proved natural home to the kind of slow conversation that creates lasting friendships. It was a place that returned those of us engaged in decentralization to our first principles and democractic ideals, clarified by sunshine and sharpened by the cold and salty Pacific. 

Now, participants have scattered across the world — they have become, again, decentralized — but the community built above the crashing waves of Gazos Beach is living on, imagining, designing, and building a better shared future through technology and community. 

The DWeb Camp Crew!
Posted in News | 18 Comments

Summertime in the Internet Archive Stacks

Around the Internet Archive headquarters (and most of the United States), it’s summertime, meaning high temperatures, a lot of kids out of school, and a sense of taking it easy and being up for some relaxing and fun walks through the Internet Archive’s collection of material. Here’s a light, hopefully interesting set of materials at you might want to make part of your hot days and nights.

DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie: The Summertime Mixtapes

Jazz and Boogie have been putting out free mixtapes every year for almost a decade with the idea of being played out on a radio durring summer. Called simply the “Summertime Mixtapes”, they’re a lovely platter of good tunes for a good time.

Wellesley Recreation Summer Concert

Five videos shot during the Wellesley Recreation Summer Concert in 2018 are a perfect blend of good fun and community spirit. Stretching into the hours are all sorts of bands, announcements and performances.

Eaton’s Spring and Summer Catalogue 1917

It’s too late to order (over 100 years too late) but the Eaton’s Catalogue for 1917 had all manner of summer fashions for sale and you can look over some lovely scanned images from that time on our in-browser reader. At the very least, you should check out some of the excellent choices in hats for beachwear.

Cooking With Gelatin

For cooking with gelatin it’s hard to beat this 1907 cookbook for the variety of jellies and gelatins you can make, called the “Cox’s Manual of Gelatine Cookery”, but unfortunately there’s no photographs or illustrations, and it’s all about the unique sights and colors of gelatin culinary delight, so illustration from Cox’s is getting pushed aside for this Jello ad:

And Now… from You

That’s what I’ve found in a short stroll through the Archive’s millions of items… maybe you’ve stumbled on some great movies, hot music, and fantastic books that bring you back through summers past or which will be just as great in the present day. Feel free to leave comments with your finds!

  • Jason Scott, Free Range Archivist
Posted in News | 3 Comments

The Mueller Report – Now with Linked Footnotes and Accessible

The Mueller Report, orginally released as a scanned image PDF, is now available as a text-based EPUB document with 747 live footnotes and is conformant with both Web and EPUB accessibility requirements.

The Mueller Report is arguably one of the most important documents in American politics. However, when the report was made available to the public by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the morning of April 18th, 2019, the formatting left much to be desired.  For one thing, it was initially published as a PDF image file with no text, which meant it could not be searched. That version of the report can be found here.  An updated version of the report, with searchable text, was published by the DOJ on April 22nd at the same URL and with the same filename (report.pdf).  More importantly, while the report had 2,390 footnotes, only 14 of those referenced links to live web pages. In addition the report contained many formatting issues that made it less than accessible to reading disabled people and was not compliant with US federal law 508 accessibility standards.

The Internet Archive sought to help make the report more useful by adding links to as many references in the footnotes as possible, as well as help make it more accessible to the reading disabled community. To do this, we teamed with MuckRock to crowdsource the identification of web-based resources referred to in footnotes.  We then worked with a team of interns to carefully research every footnote and, in some cases, the multiple references each one contained.  We identified 733 external resources (added to the 14 available in the original report, for a total of 747 links) which we archived via the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, and uploaded to its collections. We included links to archived webpages to guard against the ephemerality of web-based resources. In particular referencing archives guards against link rot (when URLs go dead, e.g. return a status code 404) and content drift (when the content associated with a URLs changes over time.)

In addition, the report has been made fully conformant with both Web and EPUB accessibility requirements, as well as meeting the U.S. government’s Section 508 requirements. This includes proper heading markup and other accessibility markup, to facilitate the use of assistive technology, proper image descriptions for users unable to see the images (including the redactions), and accessibility metadata. It is now fully accessible for the print-disabled, which includes blind, low-vision, dyslexic, and other users with visual impairments. This work was done by Publishing Technology Partners and codeMantra.

The production of this enhanced EPUB edition of the Mueller Report was done in partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Their editors added the links we found, as well as the accessibility changes that had been identified, to a high quality EPUB edition of the report that they had previously created and published. We are happy to share that updated version here.

This version of the report still does not have links for every footnote.  That is because many of the underlying documents and interviews cited in the report are not yet available to the public, and in some cases the footnotes are points of clarification and no external resources are relevant.  We are monitoring open FOIA requests for documents that are currently unavailable and we hope to add more links to updated versions of the report as they become available.

We also know there may be some errors or other omissions in our links and edits and, as such, welcome any suggestions of additional resources that should be linked to references in the report. We also invite suggestions of other public documents that could be made more accessible.  Please write to info@archive.org with your thoughts. 

Posted in News | 3 Comments

DWeb Camp Profile: Mary Lou Jepson on the Future of Practical Telepathy and Learning from Pioneers

Some people are tasked with seeing into the future to offer us a sense of what it may hold. Mary Lou Jepsen is one of those people. Her curiosity sparks and ignites with the slightest provocation and manifests itself in the tech products that transform our lives. 

This week, her curiosity is bringing her to DWeb Camp. 

In anticipation of this gathering of engineers, designers, policymakers, and utopian dreamers, I connected with Mary Lou Jepsen to talk about how she is currently thinking about the transformations happening in the technologies where she spends most of her time today  —  the rapidly evolving field of brain-computer communications — and the possible implications of the decentralized web for privacy, healthcare, power, and society. 

In short, I asked her — what does the future hold? What kind of web do we want? 

Our resulting conversation was wide-ranging and touched on everything from ethics to sensor miniaturization to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to — maybe most importantly — whether one day soon we might be able to converse with our dogs. 

Designing, Building, & Producing at Scale 

It is clear Mary Lou Jepsen thinks at scale. She did her postgraduate work at MIT and Brown in optical sciences and in the process, built one of the largest holographic displays in the world. It was the size of a full city block. She then took on product leadership roles at Intel and joined the MIT Media Lab’s faculty with a focus on graphical displays. 

The power of technology deployed at scale has always driven her work. While at the Media Lab, she partnered with Nicholas Negroponte to found One Laptop per Child (OLPC) with the audacious goal of making an affordable, durable, low-power-consumption computer that could transform the educational lives of children globally. Key to that solution: leveraging the massive global supply chains and manufacturing capabilities of the tech industry. Her first at-scale dive into technology for good, OLPC shipped millions of these laptops, bringing in over $1 billion in revenue. It was work that earned her a mention on the Time 100 list in 2008

“You have to leverage that one in a hundred kids are a genius and that most kids can figure out how to use the laptop.” Jepsen said. “A kid stops learning when they stop asking why, when the explanation for something becomes solely because ‘we’ve always done it that way.’” 

The education that kids can open for themselves with even a simple connection to information demonstrates the transformative power of technology.  It’s a power for good that we can’t lose track of in the midst of today’s current backlash against technology. 

“On a whole, you can’t dismiss all the positive things that have happened,” she says. “Even looking at desperate poverty, it’s been halved. There are incredible statistics of global achievement.” 

“How do we throw what we have into the next thing?”

Jepsen has thrown herself fully into understanding hardware development and global manufacturing systems for high tech products. Doing so meant living life as a trans-Pacific nomad, sleeping on factory floors throughout Asia and diving into product strategy, design, and engineering in Silicon Valley. 

After OLPC, she founded Pixel Qi, centering the screen and graphical display in hardware design and building off the low-power designs from OLPC. She then joined Google X, advising across their portfolio on display and consumer electronics. From there, she moved to Facebook, where she drove the development of the graphical display and wearable head mount of Oculus’ VR system. Each role placed her at the cutting edge of optics, consumer electronics, and mass production. 

In a parallel research ecosystem, scientists were making vast strides in neuroscience as they worked to understand brain disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, brain cancer, and depression. These are diseases that impact hundreds of millions of patients worldwide, with more than 6 million dying from stroke alone each year. What is really going on in that mass of neurological tissue? How do we image the brain and, in doing so, devise treatments to improve neurological outcomes? Can we even read, through a scanner, someone’s thoughts? 

It is inevitable, Jepsen said, that these fields — consumer tech and neurology — will collide. Our collective curiosity demands it. 

“We could say nope, we don’t want to know how it works,” she said. “We could make a law against it. But it’s hard to imagine that beings with brains won’t want to know how they work.” 

Her contribution to this collision is Openwater, a company Jepsen founded to 3-D map the body and mind through portable, wearable devices that use holograms to perform the equivalent of an fMRI. 

It’s worth checking out her TED talk and demo of the project to grasp this system in greater detail. In short, Openwater proposes to take the way that light and sound travel through tissue, leverage recent strides in sensor miniaturization and processing capacity to measure and record those patterns, and use holography to image internal brain structures based upon those measurements. By interpreting the created images, Openwater expects to develop insights into how a particular brain is damaged — and ultimately, what it is thinking.

MRIs, the current go-to means of brain imaging and diagnosis, rely on clunky, expensive machinery. At Openwater, the product prototype is designed to be affordable, portable, and mass produced. 

As the technology advances, Jepsen expects users to be able to “read/write” using the light and sound stimuli. In non-tech shorthand, the wearable could be used for both diagnosis and treatment. If this is realized, the use cases are countless. Jepsen riffs through a few scenarios: it could help those with depression understand their illness and seek treatment. Or it could offer those who are neurodiverse new ways to communicate. For example, it may help a person who has had a stroke regain language facility.

Jepsen jokes — with dead seriousness — that she even imagines a device, a little hat, worn by a dog. Could we enhance the dog’s communication? How about give him a memory bank? Or how about taking the technology to dolphins and whales to truly understand the depth of their intelligence? 

“It sounds like crazy-person talk,” she admits. “But it’s not.” 

On a more immediate note, one early use case the team has identified is helping emergency medical professionals determine the type of stroke a patient is experiencing. Clot strokes and hemorrhagic strokes are both treatable, but if a patient’s stroke type is misidentified and they are treated with the wrong medication, they can die. A portable device that can distinguish between these stroke types can vastly improve health outcomes. 

As Openwater’s technology develops, Jepsen knows the medical benefits will have the power to transform lives. There will also come a time when we eventually can read someone’s thoughts with this technology. She recognizes that the troves of data unlocked in the processes have significant implications for society. Who holds power when you can read someone’s innermost thoughts? There will be reams of data about everything: about logic and emotion, about the input we get into our ears, eyes, and brain. There will be the ability to add input as we learn to write into brain-computer systems, perhaps changing what a person does or says. 

As we race toward this future, Jepsen notes that now is absolutely the time to ask the hard questions and define what responsibility means at this new frontier. To ask questions about the storage, distribution, privacy and ownership of data. These questions are already being asked, particularly by many involved with the development of the decentralized web. Jepsen sees DWeb Camp as an opportunity to bring these questions to the front and develop community around their answers. 

Jepsen doesn’t yet know what the answers are, but perhaps, she notes, it involves involves technical solutions. And perhaps it includes a new declaration of human rights. 

With the Pioneers

The importance of these questions brought our conversation back to DWeb Camp, an idyllic and raucous gathering of individuals working on decentralized web protocols and applications. Widely citing the failure of Web 2.0 to provide certain protections  — of people, communities, economies — this community is building new protocols for a better web, the web we want and deserve. 

As a student of the future, Jepsen has been following the DWeb movement and understands that the systems that may come from it may have profound implications for the storage and sharing of data. In turn, they will impact how our technology and society is structured. 

What is the architecture of the next form of Internet? 

From her perspective at the cutting edge of brain-computer communication, she has a few priorities to offer for consideration at the camp.

Privacy 

The recoil against technology has been reverberating throughout the tech ecosystem as users begin to understand just how deeply individual privacy has eroded in recent years. The countless small pieces of data vacuumed from our click-trails have become proprietary to the companies that collect them and, when paired with immense processing capacity, become incredibly valuable. 

That flood of data will build exponentially as technologies like Openwater go mainstream. Coming from a healthcare background, Jepsen sees the importance of addressing privacy head on. At first this would entail giving medical data standard sensitivity. Later, however, it will have to account for the stark responsibility over data that is synonymous with people’s private thoughts.  

How do we insure that only those who wish to share their thoughts with have access to them? Can we create a distributed system in which access to personal thoughts is as ephemeral as desired?

Experimentation 

Any time you type into a Google search bar, several dozen experiments are being run on you. “Why isn’t it the same in the doctor’s office?” Jepsen asks. There are legal guidelines, like HIPAA, that govern sharing medical data, of course, and provide key patient protections while facilitating research. 

Jepsen however, offers the hypothetical of whether, through the decentralized web, within these bounds each hospital could be its own archive. Hospitals could process information around treatment trajectory, cost, money, time — even pain and suffering — to help meet the needs of patients more immediately. We could, she insists, understand so much more about disease if we could readily take the information we have about disease and put it to work.  

Energy and Resource Use

The amounts of neurological data, as mentioned, are immense. So is the energy and processing capacity needed to make sense of it. How can we ensure that the system we create does not condemn us to further resource exploitation?

Jepsen readily admits that, as a multi-disciplinary/anti-disciplinary outsider to the decentralized web community, she doesn’t yet know if the decentralized web is moving in these directions. What she has identified there, however, is a wealth of deep thinking, experimentation, and project design that, as so many trends in technology before, has sparked her curiosity. 

“I am going to learn. To ask questions.” she said, her curiosity flaring, excited by the very idea of new community and new ideas. “I bring a different healthcare, hardware, education background. How to bring in this different background and think with the pioneers in this area and hopeful contribute to the community building around it.”  

The Future We Want

“How do we define how to be responsible?” Jepsen asks.  

We understand that the future we want is different from the future we have. Perhaps decentralization is the answer. Perhaps it is not. But simply asking the question points to the importance of gatherings like DWeb Camp: informal, long-form, community-driven moments to hit pause on the pressure of shipping product to think about the social and ethical implications of what is being created. 

“These are the tools of our time. It’s how everything gets done, it’s like oxygen to us,” Jepsen said. “We can’t breathe without Internet and Wi-Fi. It’s even hard to be on a plane without it!” 

As vital elements to our contemporary lives, we should all contribute to shaping these tools in development to ensure they reflect our collective values. We are in the middle of a moment in which we now see dark and daunting implications of technology. There are, Jepsen points out, a series of “telling and chilling stories” today from Brexit and Myanmar to rise of the alt-right in the United States. These examples fill the news and are cited as proof points to a runaway machine, controlled by no one and beneficial only to extremists. 

Conversely, the positive impacts of technology are now so seamlessly integrated into daily life that they are easy to overlook. But she notes that global poverty and violence are on the decline and opportunity for education, security, and meaningful work never more present. Much of this progress is related to technology’s advance. 

“Technology is a great enabler,” Jepsen said. “Historically for all humanity it brings good and bad. We need to be clear eyed in thinking of the future for 20, 50, and 100 years of the product. How do we define how to be responsible?” 

Responsibility must be a group project. It is a community coming together to articulate shared values, technical learnings, and hopes for the future. 

“Camp is a really good setting for it,” Jepsen said. “There is more time. You can get into non-confrontational conversations and develop a rapport with someone you facially disagree with. You can listen in another way. Sure, we’re all technologists, but that’s just the first piece of anything we create.” 

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Mary Lou Jepsen will be offering a workshop on Saturday July 20th at DWeb Camp entitled “Towards Practical Telepathy — How to Store Private Thoughts.” Join this discussion as she and others dive into how we might structure data storage and sharing for big, personal, sensitive data sets and discuss what role a decentralized system may or may not have in enabling this future. 

For extra learning, check out her TED talk and presentation at the Long Now

Mary Lou Jepsen is the Founder and CEO of Openwater

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Thank you for the donation of 78rpm records from a Craigslist poster

Mark Ellis alerted us to a Craiglist post of a storage locker of records being offered for free in San Jose in 2 hours. The owner wanted them gone. The Internet Archive sprang into action and our truck rolled.

Lots of people had responded to the ad that wanted specific records for free, but not that many that wanted 78rpm records. We love 78rpm records. We preserve them and digitize ones we do not have for the Great 78 Project.  At the end we got 1 pallet full of 78’s, maybe 2,700 discs, and they are queued for digitization.

Thank you to Joey Myers for posting on Craigslist, to Mark Ellis for alerting Jason Scott of the Archive, and the Archive staff that jumped on it.

Posted in Announcements, News | 7 Comments

Introducing the 2019 DWeb Camp Global Fellows

One of the most promising aspects of the decentralized Web (DWeb) is that it’s a movement that envisions a world in which anyone can be empowered to build their own communication networks.

But DWeb is about something more than just internet connectivity. For many, the DWeb movement has grown beyond the idea of creating a decentralized World Wide Web. The term has come to include all manner of decentralized infrastructure across all layers of the network stack.

What this means for people who live in areas where internet connectivity is scant or nonexistent is that it’s no longer simply a matter of connecting them to the mainstream global internet. People can build local networks and web applications that fit the needs and desires of their own communities.  They can redefine the utility of networked communication by listening to what people need and designing tools and applications to address them.

We identified some of these remarkable social-tech innovators and have invited ten of them to join us at DWeb Camp. They are coming from all corners of the world to share their experience building decentralized networks and applications. Our hope is that they too will learn about tools and approaches to decentralization that can help inform and support the awe-inspiring work they do on the ground.

The following are bios of this year’s DWeb Global Fellows.

Angelica Blevins + Zach Mandeville

Angelica and Zach are artists, coders, and solarpunks living in New Zealand. They met over a mutual appreciation of each others’ work — Angelica’s comics and Zach’s zines — which sparked a romance that led to marriage. Their path to decentralized tech came from burnout and depression, caused largely by Web 2.0 and the damaging extractive quality it has on artists. As they sought technical autonomy in how they developed and shared work, the initial joy of creation was sparked again. The internet was no longer a trigger for depression, but a wellspring of joy. There was also a strong mystic history and presence in these technologies that both were drawn to, and wanted to fuel more.

Zach Mandeville and Angelica Blevins

They are now active community members in Scuttlebutt and love building arty and dumb things in Beaker. Their passion is in helping our decentralized spaces support artistic communities as much as it supports technical ones, to draw out the magical element already present in our code, and to help spread the empowering joy they found in these spaces to people who feel outside of tech culture.

Hiure Queiroz

Hiure Queiroz

Hiure holds an undergraduate degree in physics and a Masters degree in materials science from the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA) and is a founding partner of Sítio do Astronauta in São Paulo, Brazil. Hiure is a very dedicated researcher, responsible for some important technical developments and solutions currently provided by Coolab. He is interested in the study and development of science and technologies through the promotion of seminars and workshops inspired by the do-it-yourself culture. In these meetings he introduces handcrafted tools, simple materials and electronics in order to potentiate the construction of things which could function to facilitate solutions in everyday life.

Kanyon Sayers-Roods

Kanyon Sayers-Roods

Kanyon is Costanoan Ohlone-Mutsun and Chumash; she also goes by her given Native name, “Coyote Woman”. She is proud of her heritage and her native name (though it comes with its own back story), and is very active in the Native Community. She is an Artist, Poet, Published Author, Activist, Student and Teacher. The daughter of Ann-Marie Sayers, she was raised in Indian Canyon, trust land of her family, which currently is one of the few spaces in Central California available for the Indigenous community for ceremony. Kanyon’s art has been featured at the De Young Museum, The Somarts Gallery, Gathering Tribes, Snag Magazine, and numerous Powwows and Indigenous Gatherings. She is a recent graduate of the Art Institute of California, Sunnyvale, obtaining her Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees in Web Design and Interactive Media. She is motivated to learn, teach, start conversations around decolonization and re-indigenization, permaculture and to continue doing what she loves: Art.

Luandro Vieira

Luandro Vieira

Luandro is a developer who does regular contributions to projects aimed at decentralizing communication such as Libre Router and Secure Scuttlebutt. He’s been living in Moinho, quilombola village, in Brazil for over five years building a community network with his neighbors.

Marcela Guerra

Marcela is a craftswoman with a focus on technological appropriation and object-making through workshops and immersive experiences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from UNESP in São Paulo, and is part of the collective Sítio do Astronauta, which investigates and develops non-disciplinary technologies that amplify learning skills and enable artistic expression.

Marcela Guerra

Since 2016 she has lived in the Souzas neighbourhood in Monteiro Lobato, São Paulo, Brazil where she contributes to a number of local initiatives: the “Cassava Festival,” an independent festival organized by the Souzas neighborhood community; the “Espaço do Fazer”, an open laboratory for research, creation and development of projects, located inside the Pandavas Institute; and the “Associação Portal sem Porteiras”, a non-profit association that seeks to develop alternative forms of accessing and producing information.

Currently, Marcela is the chairwoman of the Associação Portal sem Porteiras and member of its communication council, where she explores experimental methodologies to help enable the community to develop a critical sense in the processing of information produced by new media.

Merlin Van Lawick

Merlin was born in Dar es Salaam of Dutch, English and Mwela, Tanzanian decent. His diverse heritage has aided his open-mindedness and respect for cultural diversity. After finishing his A level education, he made up his mind to pursue a unique path outside of university, in which his fulfillment is a commitment to others and to the environment. He is presently in charge of developing the Pugu Environment Center, affiliated with the organization founded by his grandmother, The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI).

Merlin Van Lawick

Merlin is committed to the emerging decentralized application technology and the potential of transparent, open-sourced and consensus tech-based solutions. He co-founded Afriplains Digital Technologies with the intent to provide resources to young talent. He recognizes that this emerging technology can address not only socioeconomic challenges and public empowerment but form an interconnected web between diverse cultures, eventually moving toward an evolution of a better-connected global consciousness.

Soledad Luca de Tena

Sol Luca de Tena

Sol has spent her life living and working between South Africa and Spain, and calls both countries home. She has over a decade of experience in strategic project management within technology development, capacity building, social impact and policy — with a focus on utilizing technologies to address environmental and social challenges. She develops collaboration networks between often diverse interests, including communities, academia, industry and administration, and shapes projects that respond to critical needs. Sol is passionate about creating positive, meaningful change through equitable, sustainable interventions.

She is currently a director of Zenzeleni Networks NPC, South Africa’s first community network, as well as the vice-chair of the Internet Society’s global Community Networks Special Interest Group (CNSIG).

TB Dinesh

Dinesh, as part of Janastu and Servelots groups, has been exploring tech engagements for “Indian/South needs” through a rural research lab (iruway.janastu.org) near Bangalore., India Research activities have been generally oriented towards Web content accessibility issues for the low-literate users. Decentralized local mesh networks, indigenous archives, and Web Annotation tools frame the context of his work.

TB Dinesh (“T B Dinesh” by Kiran Jonnalagadda is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Dinesh returned to Bangalore from Palo Alto about 20 years ago for the development of “Pantoto Communities – community owned community knowledge” — software that helped non tech-savvy domain experts at small organizations do knowledge management without depending on high-cost tech resources. After meeting a number of people and organizations working on a wide range of societal issues, Janastu and Servelots became an R&D body for these groups. While the Pantoto idea is still active in spirit, its now being imagined as decentralized archives with Web Annotations tools to help link data, re-narrate content for low literates, and to enable mesh-based participatory services.

Tzu-Tung Lee (李紫彤)

Tzu-Tung Lee

Tzu-Tung is a conceptual artist focusing on decolonizing art and political hegemony (tzutung.com). She surfs between performances, web-art, on-site installations, experimental films and creates her works in contemporary art, academia and political domains. On 2019, she co-found ARThon, Taiwan first hackathon for artists, and its trans-disciplinary community Tinyverse (arthon.cc).

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Correct Metadata is Hard: a Lesson from the Great 78 Project

We have been digitizing about 8,000 78rpm record sides each month and now have 122,000 of them done. These have been posted on the net and over a million people have explored them. We have been digitizing, typing the information on the label, and linking to other information like discographies, databases, reviews and the like.

Volunteers, users, and internal QA checkers have pointing out typos, and we decided to go back over a couple of month’s metadata and found problems. And then we contracted with professional proofreaders and they found even more (2% of the records at this point had something to point out, some are matters of opinion or aesthetics, some lead to corrections).

We are going to pay the professional proofreaders to correct the 5 most important fields for all 122,000 records, but can use more help. We are pointing these out here in hopes to interest volunteer proofreaders and to share our experience in continually improving our collections.

Here are some of the issues with the primary performer field: before-the-after that we have now corrected from the June 2019 transfers (before | after) that we hope to upload in the next couple of weeks:

Jose Melis And His Latin American Ensemble | Jose Melis And His-Latin American Ensemble
Columbia-Orchestra | Columbia-Orchester
S. Formichi and T. Chelotti | S. Formichi e T. Chelotti
Dennis Daye and The Rhythmaires | Dennis Day and The Rhythmaires
Harry James and His Orchestra | Harry James and His Orch.
Charles Hart & Elliot Shaw | Charles Hart & Elliott Shaw
Peerless Quartet | Peerless Quartette

Some of the title corrections:

O Vino Fa ‘Papla (Wine Makes You Talk) | ‘O Vino Fa ‘Papla (Wine Makes You Talk)
Masked Ball Salaction | Masked Ball Selection
Moonlight and Roses (Brings Mem’ries Of You) | Moonlight and Roses (Bring Mem’ries Of You)
Que Bonita Eres Tu (You Are Beutiful) | Que Bonita Eres Tu (You Are Beautiful)
Buttered Roll | “Buttered Roll”
Paradise | “Paradise”
Got a Right to Cry | “Got a Right to Cry”
Blue Moods | “Blue Moods”
Auf Wiederseh’n Sweerheart | Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart
George M. Cohan Medley – Part 1 | George M. Cohan Medley – Part 2
Dewildered | Bewildered
Lolita (Seranata) | Lolita (Serenata)
Got a Right to Cry | “Got a Right to Cry” Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers
Blue Moods | “Blue Moods”
Body and Soul | “Body and Soul”
Mais Qui Est-Ce | Mais Qui Est-Ce?
Wail Till the Sun Shines Nellie Blues | Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie Blues
Que Te Pasa Joe (What Happens Joe) | Que Te Pasa Jose (What Happens Joe)
SAMSON AND DELILAH Softly Awakens My Heart | SAMSON AND DELILAH Softly Awakes My Heart
I’m Gonna COO, COO, COO | (I’m Gonna) COO, COO, COO

Posted in 78rpm, Music, News | 9 Comments

Lessons Learned: The DWeb Summit UX/UI Workshop

Go to the profile of Iryna Nezhynska

Guest post by Iryna Nezhynska

What should the user experience be for the Decentralized Web? 

This is a short recap about how designers from blockchain and decentralized tech organizations all over the world gathered at the Decentralized Web Summit — Builders Day to ask important questions about the future of the web. First published on the Jolocom blog October 5th, 2018, this piece, Part 1 of a 2-part series, has been updated in anticipation of DWeb Camp’s “set-up-your-mind” session. We hope to jump-start conversations at the 2019 DWeb Camp ahead.

If the number of thoughts triggered by the Decentralized Web Summit 2018 in San Francisco was any indication of how much passion I would like to contribute to the burgeoning blockchain industry, then… Decentralized Web, my designer’s heart and mind are completely yours!

In 2018, more than 750 tech thought leaders interested in building the web we want — and the web we deserve — gathered at the old San Francisco Mint for the 2018 Decentralized Web Summit. There on Builders Day, I joined the UX/UI session as a storyteller so I could later share with the world what puzzles we tried to unlock at the time.

What happened on Builders Day?

On Builders Day there were no panels or talks. Instead, 100+ of the top builders of decentralized protocols and apps, along with leaders from the law, governance, the arts and global rights formed 13 working groups to discuss the roadblock issues to building a new decentralized web.

Our group, led by facilitators Michelle Lee from Protocol Labs and Amy James from Alexandria.io, got lucky number 13. Personally, I felt super proud that the session on design was the only one facilitated completely by ladies, so I simply couldn’t resist starting a tweet with lyrics: “Who runs the world? Girls!” 

There was no advance registration for sessions. Instead organisers turned the group-forming process into a short trade show of topics (Dear Reader, note this! — it’s an idea worth stealing for your next event). Each topic had its own information stand where attendees could share their thoughts, frustrations or challenges they currently face within that area.

This first round of chats helped facilitators get a feel for the audience in advance, and the questions we noted down during the “trade show” became our starting point for the afternoon sessions.

Breaking the Ice

Following the trade-show, Michelle Lee suggested an icebreaker game I cannot fail to mention.

We created an imaginary axis across our space anchored by two controversial opinions. After Michelle read each statement related to the session topic, then participants arranged themselves along the line :  What did they think? How strongly did they feel? Was there agreement? 

The prompts hit at some of the thorniest questions in our field: 

  • “For any decentralized app that appears I can build a centralised one that performs faster.”
  • “Users don’t need to understand decentralisation to benefit from it.”
  • “We need to abandon UX of centralised web to create excellent experiences for the decentralized web.”
  • “In the last week of work, did you create for end users or for developers?”

The physicality of this exercise brought to life the strong feelings many of us feel about these answers. After each question, we also dove into explaining why we felt the way we do. A few of the more interesting answers:  

Question: “Users have to understand how decentralized technology works to benefit from it.” 

Our working group agreed unanimously that people need to understand that something is better. They need to see the difference in benefits and understand the implications of using one technology over another. However, they don’t need to know all the details.

Question: “We have to abandon UX of the centralised web in order to create better experiences for the decentralized web.”

One strong answer: Can you imagine throwing out decades of practices developed by our UX heroes and mentors?

This surfaced the memorable realization that we don’t need to abandon everything at once  and that  different approaches to UX will emerge organically. We should not wait for users’ behaviour to change on its own. Instead, we should kick-start the process by building on behaviours that are familiar to people already so that they can more easily try out new things. And then, step by step, introduce new, better patterns of experience design.

The behaviour of users will change once they recognize differences between current apps and dapps. They will sit back, rethink, and change their behaviours. Only then we should adjust UX practises to meet these new patterns of behaviour and help people adopt decentralized products faster.


Going Deeper: Ideas We Put on the Table

Well, not on a table — on a whiteboard. And not only ideas — all things that bother us that day. Some of the brainstorm questions kept us running a discussion for the next 4 hours until the final call to join the closing keynote. They are also our (designers’) homework — we will not successfully move forward if we don’t find at least first hypotheses to work from moving forward.

I think it’s very important to remember that when it comes to adoption of new technologies our design decisions influence and literally “embed” new behaviours into people who adopt this technology. So the key question to me is: “Do we design to change or not to change behaviours that people earned using the centralized web?” 

I’m very curious, as DWeb Camp fast approaches July 18-21, 2019, how many of these challenges will appear again as the questions that keep the cogs in our brains working late into the night. I hope this recap of discussions from 2018 will jumpstart our process, and accelerate the learning we need industry-wide.

Look out for Part II of this blog which will cover a few additional questions and ideas in more depth. 

Posted in Announcements, News | 5 Comments

Getting Ready for DWeb Camp: A Conversation with Kelsey Breseman

Earlier this week, I spoke with Kelsey Breseman, a rockstar engineer and entrepreneur working to solve climate change, protect public access to scientific data, and build a better web. Equal parts concrete problem solver and utopian dreamer, in her spare time, she wanders the forests north of Seattle and revels in VERY long walks. 

In July, she will be leading a workshop at the Decentralized Web Camp. Here’s our conversation, edited for length and clarity. 

Kelsey, fantastic to meet another climate nerd working on the Decentralized Web. Thanks for speaking with me!

Let’s start with climate. You’re currently working on a book to introduce engineers, entrepreneurs and other change-makers to the subject, as well as working at an environmentally-focused nonprofit. When did you realize this was what you needed to work on? 

I had a classic tech start up after college. It was a very ‘S.F. Bay Area young engineer’ feeling. I was pulled into a job, it could have been a career, I was making money — but I wasn’t satisfied. 

Part was the hours. It wasn’t physically good to my body. Part was that I was doing user research, and the demographics were not the demographics I was interested in serving. Maybe, I thought, the tool we were making wasn’t that transformative. It was not a bad tool or bad community, but I want to spend the majority of my time on something that really matters. 

I did the thing where I quit without a plan. 

I wanted to find something to work on that would have an impact, and something I might be good at. Climate change was the obvious direction — it’s really big and it needs a lot of different initiatives, including engineering. It needs different people and different solutions, all acted upon at once. Climate change is a set of enormous shifts that will happen globally. Entrepreneurship thrives where things are changing.

I had a few different ventures in the climate entrepreneurship space, but though this was values-aligned, I kept hitting the same issues as before in terms of physically wearing myself down. So I was really pleased to stumble across a listing at EDGI, the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, asking for remote, part-time work for someone experienced in engineering, open source, project management, and taking initiative. The non-profit has much better leverage and contacts than I could make on my own in terms of impacting climate policy, and I help the org design and execute on projects at the intersection of environment, technology, governance, and justice. And I’m finally able to balance my time to do everything else: keep bees, bake sourdough, find intense physical adventures, and volunteer with activist movements. 

How does it all intersect with the Decentralized Web? How did you get connected to this big, ambitious project?

I found out about DWeb a few years ago, but my biggest involvement is through EDGI.  EDGI started around concerns that the United States government could decrease access to public environmental data, especially data that they produce, particularly in politically motivated ways. As a starting point, the group of academics, volunteers, and otherwise ordinary citizens who became EDGI coalesced around the mission to —just in case motives get wonky— ensure that as much of that data as possible was archived somewhere. Then the next step was to think about how to increase access to that data. 

That next step centers the question: “What it looks like to have an unbiased approach to data ownership?”

One of the most interesting efforts at EDGI is the Data Together project. We’re interested in Decentralized Web — how people own the data they need and use. We bring together people building DWeb protocols to enable data storage and answering, what does it mean to create virtual citizenship in that space? That’s what is bringing me to camp. 

So you think a lot about what being a “good citizen” means on the web. What does that look like?

Being a good citizen — we as Americans see our civic duty as voting and taxes, and being “productive” in the sense of having a job, and that’s all. That hasn’t always been the case; a truly committed citizenship is more. 

Data Together is largely hyper-educated tech people. Together, we discuss ways to design tech to be good stewards of data. This is informed by EDGI’s broader work, including a formulation of Environmental Data Justice, and also informs EDGI’s work, especially in archiving.

I don’t think we’ve come up with conclusions, but the act of talking to each other about ethics and values matters. Centering conversations around what are we trying to do as ‘citizens for good’ is important and massively useful. 

We look, for example, at case studies where people thought they were being unbiased and fell short. For example, Bitcoin was designed to be just technology. No policy, no society, etc. But because of voting based on mining ownership, which were owned by those with capital, they couldn’t actually get away from power structures. 

DWeb Camp, to me, is a place where we can practice this active, creative kind of citizenship. The radical act of gathering together in nature, setting up our own infrastructure for a week, and asking these big questions of each other. 

I’ve always had a weakness for utopian society. That feeling that we might be creating something fundamentally new, and deciding what the rules will be.

Gatherings where you bring folks together in space is to foster connection. The meaningful casual interactions — sharing food, seeing who wants to stay out late and look at the sunset, making space to be human together— create a motivation to work together on the technology. 

DWeb Camp is rooted in the idea of intentional community. How might we engage with data, with money, with people? How do we do that in a way that creates a different world? I’ve been describing DWeb Camp as Burning Man for nerds. I don’t know what to expect — and anything you can be excited about without knowing what to expect is cool. 

Exactly! And right now, DWeb Camp is full potential, energized by a remarkable set of thinkers and engineers who are bringing it to life. 

I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering on open source projects. The technology may be what draws you in, but it is the community that keeps you involved. You show up on a call because you want to see the people and share in their work. As Liz Barry said on a recent Data Together call, our polity is the set of people with whom we can share dreams. 

This is a gathering of those dreamers. 

So thinking about what will happen at camp when everyone is gathered together, you’re offering a workshop that you’re calling a “Technical Salon.” What’s the plan and why should people attend? 

I have wanted to give this workshop for years. I’m really interested in communities and how to foster a sense of connection between strangers— so this is an experiment.

In the technical salon, you don’t start with your name, where you’re from, or where you work. Instead, you put three things you’re interested in talking about on your name-tag. You come into the space with, more or less, your heart on your sleeve to declare what you want to talk about.

My hope is that this will help people to connect more deeply, more vulnerably, right away, by meeting immediately over the things that matter to them. 

I’ll certainly be there, and am sure others will too. 

Thanks so much for sharing your work on climate, DWeb, citizenship and more. See you later in July!

If you would like to join Kelsey and other marvelous thinkers at DWeb Camp, learn more and sign up here. July 18-21 at a Farm near Pescadero, CA.

________________________

Kelsey Breseman is an engineer, entrepreneur, and community builder. She spends as much time as possible outside in the woods, thinking about and experimenting with different ways to save the world.

Posted in Announcements, News | 9 Comments