Subject: Re: [NYCGA Internet] Against Encryption (& what amounts to info hoarding): Transparency = Public Legitimacy = OWS Movement Growth
From: Dan Phiffer
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 04:35:03 -0400
To: "internet_working_group@googlegroups.com" <internet_working_group@googlegroups.com>
CC: internet working group <internet_working_group@googlegroups.com>, "ows-digital-strategy@googlegroups.com" <ows-digital-strategy@googlegroups.com>, "ows_solutions@freenetworkfoundation.org" <ows_solutions@freenetworkfoundation.org>

Just to be clear, signing email is different from encrypting it. It's like a wax seal that says it wasn't forged or tampered with.

Forging email is really easy and could be an easy vector for internal disruption. It'd be pretty trivial for me to send an email as Felipe saying "hey you know what, I changed my mind about this encryption thing."

-Dan

On Oct 27, 2011, at 2:18 AM, felipe ribeiro <felipetr@gmail.com> wrote:

Am I the only person who is concerned that the widespread use of encryption justifies the paranoid surveillance state in wanting to tap everything? Excluding logins, etc, why hide ANYTHING? I would say the more we document what we are doing and make it accessible, the more knowledge we share, the less of a "threat" we are, the stronger we are. With OWS, we have nothing to hide. We ARE law enforcement, in the purest sense of the term. Grandma is with US, We The People.

I've probably pissed off alot of people on this list over the past 3 weeks, arguing that we're not doing enough to document what we are doing. And the understandable (but I would argue, incomplete) response is: "We're BUSY trying to build shit that works for OWS to use! The more time we spend on chatter/documentation, the less solid code we can write each day."

here's my argument - the code you write is AS IMPORTANT, but NOT MORE IMPORTANT, than the abundant documentation for the RATIONALE for that code, in terms of the intention, the behavior you want to encourage or discourage, - not just the hows of your process, but the whys. For our power lies in our transparency. Remember that phrase, "we hold these truths to be self evident"? If we document well what we are doing, our goals as a movement - our reasoning, or moral imperative, if you like - is beyond reproach. No one can point at us and say we are "subversive". On the contrary, the subversives own the banking system, and have been subverting the USA for quite some time. We are the super majority, we are the country, we are the fuckin' PEOPLE, man. If we simply take a look at what the big picture is, we know right away We Are In Charge. We're not "protestors", we are the true owners of society. I'm not making a rhetorical point here (believe me, I can further back this point up, but it's for another discussion). 

it is for this reason I don't think encryption should be encouraged among OWS supporters AT ALL, unless they live in repressive regimes (and before anyone says the USA is a repressive regime - what happened in Oakland last night, as enraging as it is, cannot be compared to what's happening in Syria, or Zimbabwe, or any number of places). For now at least, the USA is bound by law.

And while I appreciate that everything is super hectic right now, I am of the belief that the set of ideation platforms, online consensus/deliberation platforms, social argumentation spaces, and other emergent systems that can allow thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people to meaningfully partake in decision-making that will ultimately come out of this movement ARE TOO F!&#$@ IMPORTANT TO NOT BE WELL DOCUMENTED, AS THEY ARE BEING CREATED, IN REAL TIME. 

So yeah, not only am I against encryption for this movement (in the USA) because it is a tactical blunder in terms of making the state be concerned that they have to employ more intelligence resources to monitor what is going on (again, we have nothing to hide, WE ARE law enforcement), it trends towards further secrecy and non-openness, which is already happening HERE, on this list, and I think that sucks. 

I disagree that we're being "transparent enough". No, we're not. Most people don't know what IRC is. Chat logs are temporary, they are not archived. ==> Do you not realize what we're doing is absolutely historic?** <== Why are we forking these conversations into a thousand different (effectively) private conversations? I said it before, I'll say it now - what does it matter if it happens unintentionally? By treating the documentation of what (& why) we are doing as merely an after thought, we're effectively hoarding information.

I think the moment we're in as a movement intersects beautifully with the moment we tech people are in - we need to walk the walk on transparency. Who are we, OWS? We are radically transparent, in that we are documenting the fact that we don't yet know what form our collective voice will take, but we do know that it is important to register our process in real time - the meta narrative - of what tools we're building, and why. What future do we want to build? The tools we design will allow us to build that future. What kinds of tools do we want to build? These conversations must be had, in public, in real time. So, what tools are we going to build? Who is documenting these conversations? Where are they occurring? Why not look at these (tech-centric) conversations as The Golden Opportunity to bridge in the Democratic process that has been happening in parks around the country for the past five weeks with the bigger emergent question of "Who Are We?" as a movement? We are the people that are going to make the existing system obsolete, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller. 

So, let's talk about it. Publicly. In a documentation-friendly fashion. Please? No more disappearing into non-archiving digital places, minimize private listserves (unless what you are discussing is PURELY security-critical topics), and, as much of a pain in the ass as it is, please document what you are doing ten times over.  Anything less than an all-out effort to disclose what/why/how of our tool building is not only methodologically questionable, strategically, it is a missed opportunity for providing the movement with a needed mirror and a way to connect disparate supporters and scale the conversation to the appropriate size.

Felipe

** Why is this historic? Because we're seeding the development, in the form of research questions, design patterns, and intended outcomes, of the set of platforms and ideas that will eventually beat existing governments in the planes of transparency, just consent, and efficiency (cumulatively: legitimacy). Why? Old paradigm decision making will die in the face of demonstrably superior technology that involves orders of magnitude more information processing. How can 535 politicians compete against the sum of human knowledge? Right. They can't. And right now, that innovation process is underway (the theory has been in place for quite some time, actually). So let's treat this effort as if it could actually succeed, and give it its best chance at doing so: document, document, document. 

PS: I just joined twitter tonight: @philosophrclown



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