If you’ve joined a Blockstack Evangelist call or maybe a community townhall in the past year and a half, you’ve probably been lucky enough to meet Harold. Harold is based in Fresno, CA and joined the Blockstack ecosystem as an Evangelist in September 2018. Since then, he’s created infographics, videos (including this awesome Stacks 2.0 Tesnet breakdown*), focused on research projects, been active in the PoX and Governance Working Groups, and much more.
The way he is blending his passion for building out a social layer in indigenous populations with his work for Blockstack is really inspiring. Get to know a bit more about him below and be sure to thank him for his contributions if you see him around Discord or at an event.
How did you discover Blockstack?
My discovery of Blockstack begins with a research group out of RPI at the time; the Generative Justice research group. This prolific group revealed the potentially transformative power of open source software and hardware. The introduction to their work and thesis also references indigenous matrilineal modes of management of commons. The thesis revolves around what said management was able to accomplish in the way of tracking morphology of unalienated value(s) flows in longterm dynamics. Specifically – but not limited to – Labor value(s), Expressive Value(s). and Ecological value(s). The regenerative advantages of these closed loops of value flow offering a uniquely orthogonal option for bottom-up social organization and economics.
After attempting to digest the many, many dense case studies built with the above thesis and approaches in mind by the group in late 2016; I decided to find an informative podcast that can bring me up to date on all things open source – the first thing I found was Blockstack co-founder Ryan Shea describing Web 3.0 on The Lunduke Podcast!
What is it about the mission that makes you want to contribute as an Evangelist?
The initial spark was the idea that the designing power of the future internet can be in hands of users. This led me to a lot of lurking and learning in the Slack (now Discord) and forum. This happened for a long time before finally signing up to assist the growth team in late 2018. Though the Generative Justice group emphasized the importance of lay contributions throughout their work – the world of distributed systems or tech, in general, was still very much far outside my comfort zone. The moment I decided to register as a Blockstack evangelist is the exact moment I saw Primavera De Filippi speak about blockchain and the need for an adequate social layer.
She was actually sharing a stage with Ron Eglash of the Generative Justice research group at a Fab City Summit (more on this below). Her speech on how the dangers of a static view of distributed systems can lead us into invisible concentrations of wealth and power if we don’t build an adequate social layer; a social layer that ensures bottom-up power distribution, to accompany quality decentralized blockchain infrastructures. This gave me the confidence necessary to register; knowing there was something to contribute on my part, despite complete lack of technical education outside of the Blockstack community and Generative Justice.
Tell me more about your work with indigenous people and how it crosses over with your interest in Blockstack
After making contact with the indigenous group referenced in the Generative Group’s thesis, we began to discover why it was that they were the last and only traditional council with matrilineal protocols of consensus decision making, ceremonies, and 2,000 yrs+ oral constitution; all intact.
I began to realize the reasons they were able to maintain this structure were actually similar to the reasons why Blockstack’s blockchain architecture is sound. The complexity at the edges; simplicity at the core, ensuring low surface area for attacks. Turtle, Wolf, and Bear are not merely native clan names as much as they are representations of distinct properties of the simplest physical elements in creation. Comparable to protons, neutrons, and electrons. These are the clans of the Kanien’kehá (traditional name of Mohawk).
The constitution and matrilineal protocols for peace of the Five Nations Confederacy comes out of the Kanien’kehá nation. So their clan system is to remain simple for means of security; other nations representing the varying complexities in their very distinct clan systems of organization. The Kanien’kehá are also responsible for protecting the entire hemisphere; having prepared protocols after receiving word from southern nations of the coming of the first European settlers. This was done successfully with the Dutch, British, French, and even American founders Franklin and Jefferson sat in the grand council of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Five Nations Confederacy through the Two Row Wampum Peace Treaty protocols.
What would become an American system of so-called checks and balances (which became a potent mechanism for westward expansion), is actually a horrifically diluted version of protocols learned at said Grand Councils. This severely limited social organization design was of course accompanied by the addition of severe absence of women’s voices (the true managers and authorities of the land[ecological protections through matrilineal cosmologies]) and of course chattel slavery instead of regenerative commons-based unalienated value(s) circulation. Hence a historically important repackaging of our Blockstack growth efforts described below!
It makes a lot of sense that you’re part of the Governance working group! What’s next in your work in bringing these two worlds together?
To simplify a bit, we are building The Two Row Wampum Social Layer Platform. This is designed to be a collaborative platform for systems prototype building; resolving wicked problems. We’re leveraging a unique network of like-minded people and experts in indigenous protocols and blockchain innovations to so.
How do you define success for this movement?
Blockchain’s broader purpose is decentralized power. Success is when we have found the means to avoid betraying this purpose by falling into building conventional structures that eventually enable the concentration of wealth and power. Eglash wrote a paper in a journal of this fabrication network entitled “Decolonizing Digital Fabrication.” In this paper, Eglash calls for heritage algorithms as an important means to protect against dangerous basins of attraction in an otherwise well-intended paradigm shift in global production, manufacturing and trade proposed by the network’s Fab City Initiative. PITO (Product-In; Trash Out) to DIDO (Data-In; Data Out) is their goal. Products and trash are transported long distances creating destructive pollution. DIDO is a means to sustainable modes of production anywhere; where only the data for production travels long distances. And waste and pollution are minimized and prevented.
Eglash praises this goal with a constructive warning for needed protections against modern extensions of colonialism [software development in so-called developed countries, while production being relegated to so-called underdeveloped geographies ]. Heritage algorithms of indigenous artisanal crafts, for example, can be said protection.
“Today we have production only where there are human labor and environmental exploitations. This is a global economy based on scarcity. We want to move to ethical production everywhere w/ local resources enabling an abundance-based global economy.” – Tomas Diez of the Fab City Initiative
What is most exciting about decentralization/blockchain/etc?
For me, Blockstack’s open-source values and mission of a decentralized internet represent a unique opportunity for proper and legal relationship to the hemisphere going forward into the next iterations of world trade. Protocols like Blockstack can enable a much-needed transformation in which the social layer is strong and leads the way. I’m excited about leveraging aspects of Blockstack in my work on the Two Row Wampum Peace Treaty and in turn, leverage my learnings there as we further explore Blockstack’s governance structures.
Thank you kindly to the Blockstack community for creating a welcoming atmosphere open to all backgrounds; which encourages folks like myself to step outside comfort zones.
I also want to thank the Generative Justice research group which exposed me to the transformative power of open source through interdisciplinary case studies on bottom-up economics in an indigenous context.
And finally, thank you kindly to the Traditional Council of Kahnawake for exposing me to the indigenous protocols of the Two Row Wampum Peace Treaty that will likely be the added layer of protocol that serves as a means to preserving the purpose of blockchain going into the future.
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