Thursday, November 17, 2011

notes from General Assembly last night (Nov. 16)

Jason (facilitator): We are here to have an organized discussion. Facilitators are here to help us have an organized discussion. We try to be objective, not inject our opinions. This GA is your GA. There's not such a huge group tonight that every person couldn't potentially speak. We seek consensus, but settle for 90%. Agenda for tonight is: announcements, proposals, N17, PSU, etc.

Multiple people: We want to discuss our immediate survival needs before anything else.

Facilitators: OK, how about announcements, then discuss immediate survival needs?

Multiple people: No, discuss immediate survival needs before anything else.

Facilitators: OK.


Metal: Several of us have been getting kicked around by the police for the last 3 days [since the breakup of the Occupation]. Police rousted kids under the Hawthorne Bridge this morning. Tonight we're going to march to the Hawthorne Bridge and camp. Our Occupation camp was dispersed largely as a result of the problems resulting from the fact that we were taking care of the people otherwise left behind.

Alex: I've been living under a bridge with rats the size of my dog.

Guy: Tribal council made a decision this morning to occupy under the Hawthorne Bridge. Let's support it.

Will: I live in Dignity Village. Somebody from Occupy was just scouting out a field nearby there. There's also some other good land near where I live.

Guy: We need direct action.

Facilitator Lady: So to recap what Metal said, after this GA, people are marching to and occupying a space under the Hawthorne Bridge. There is also a Plan B, a fallback contingency plan, the details of which are not being revealed here.

Guy: I have a house you can help clean & stay in the whole winter. Talk to me or my wife Julianne. Join my Time Traveler Advice spoke.

Guy: We can occupy multiple places.

Guy: The people who are sleeping outside need numbers to keep from getting rousted.

Guy: A gal named Berry(?) went to Council. 100 people there agreed to support Occupy. 14 mayors worked together with Homeland Security to coordinate the recent Occupy evictions. Rocky Beaute Flat is being worked on to make it available to be occupied. We just need to survive a while longer until it's ready.

Facilitator Lady: Rocky Beaute Flat is at Fremont and 82nd, east side of Portland.

2 guys: That's too far away.

Guy: I represent the tribes. We support the Hawthorne Bridge occupation.

Dave: We can occupy 4 places at once. The peaceful nature of the movement is important.

Facilitator Lady: Who doesn't now have their needs addressed for tonight?

Facilitator guy: Those folks get together after the GA. Ok? Ok.

Guy: I'm homeless but for the movement to continue to make progress, let's make sure to talk about other stuff than our immediate needs.

Guy: There are three empty homes near Battleground that we can occupy.

Guy: There are people occupying under the Hawthorne Bridge, on both sides, some homeless and some not. The police are not kicking them out.

Guy: I have a bus and will help anybody move their stuff to the Hawthorne Bridge.

Guy: If we stay in small groups, we just homeless, just people sleeping in doorways. If we stick together, we're a movement.

Guy: The worst thing we can do is break into small groups. Stay together, there's strength in numbers.


Cameron, political intervention committee: The city claims to support us, but I disagree based on their actions. I've been arrested twice for exercising my first amendment rights. I'm running for mayor and I hope you all do too. Measure 26108, public campaign finance fund, was killed. Let's bring it back. Let's use mike check when people are disrupting GAs. Talk to me if you want to be involved in an action tomorrow for N17.

Heidi, solutions committee: We're preparing legislation to take to Salem on Dec. 5.

Madelyn, community needs: Bring donations to GAs.

Coffee committee: We're out of coffee.

Alex: Occupy Wall Street just held their largest ever GA. They put out a statement asking people wishing to risk arrest to do so by sitting peacefully. Stopping stock exchange tomorrow.


Facilitator Lady: Tomorrow, meet at 8:00 on the east side of the Steel Bridge. Meet at 10:00 on the east side of Waterfront Park (Ankeny Plaza). From there, Occupy the Banks.

J Monkey: If you want to stay dry and warm, talk to me. We're occupying residences [foreclosure-affected]. It's legit and legal.

Guy: It takes 100 signatures to get on the ballot. I'm looking for a gallery for First Thursday, Dec. 1.

Guy: Sunday at 3:00, meet here at Pioneer Square. Last Supper, live and direct.

Guy: If you occupy US Bank tomorrow, the media will tear you apart.

A-Camp Guy: A-Camp was asked to be here. We want to protect you. We try to be nonviolent. We will be on the front lines in any conflict. I remain anonymous.

Guy: Bike Brigade from this past Sunday will swarm the banks tomorrow.


Teresa(?): Media who cover art are very interested in Occupy art. Talk to me; they want to talk to you.

Guy: A guru who was about to be killed by an adversary once said: "Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

Guy: West went of Steel Bridge, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, civil disobedience training.

Guy: I work in public education. I'm working on getting my teacher's union involved in Occupy.

Guy: Camping, occupying banks, etc. are all fine tactics. The most tactical thing we cam do is work together. So stop fooling around with each other and stop arguing.

Guy: We need to meet up in the afternoon or early evening and make a statement.

Guy: On Sunday night, somebody left a glove in my van.


Guy: Students and faculty walked out of the university, occupied someplace downtown for a while, had a good discussion, then occupied a City Hall space for a while and had another good discussion. 250 to 500 people involved. One arrest. No macings.

Guy: Where did the money donated to Occupy Portland go?


Guy: Basic rights and liberty necessitate a guarantee of a basic standard of living. We need a new social contract. We need land for all of us, a place we all can occupy. We want the movement to be the legal title owners of some piece of land.

Guy: We have wide international support. Yet some people say we need to evolve past the focus on homelessness. They don't understand that homelessness goes to the heart of the whole political point.

Lady: Let's acquire a commons to make this community movement sustainable, intentional, and permanent.

Lady Facilitator: Shall we have a soapbox discussion on safety issues for any reoccupation?


Joseph: There has been division within the movement. I have had problems with some people. But the cops were gonna beat both my head and theirs. Let's work together, talk, hug, love everyone. Those labeled "riff raff" and the others should love and respect each other.

Lady Facilitator: We go do different places after this meeting but we're here together now.

Mario: I was arrested Sunday. I'm suing Adams, the police, and the city in federal court on 1st Amendment grounds. Add your name to the lawsuit even if you left the Occupation voluntarily but especially if you were arrested.

Guy: Occupy malls during the holidays to reach out to shoppers.

Lady Facilitator: GA tomorrow at 7:00, here.

Lady: I roughly define violence as damaging a human life.

Guy: Homes Not Jails is occupying homes, preventing them from being foreclosed.

Guy: Y'know, they shot that kid in cold blood. Greed is a disease.

Guy: We marched around Chapman Square for 13 hours the other day. We need better spin control.

Guy: I'm going to Oakland soon to join the occupation there.

Guy: I contacted the police about the plans to occupy under the Hawthorne Bridge. The police responded, "There are shelters available. I cannot sanction or permit any illegal activity. But it's up to the officers on the ground."

Guy: Let's do an initiative to give co-ops ownership of foreclosed homes.

Guy: Make the GAs shorter.

Facilitator Lady: GA here tomorrow at 7:00.

Monday, November 14, 2011

16 recommendations for occupations

The Portland Occupation was shut down this weekend, with the mayor citing safety concerns. Although political considerations beyond those concerns clearly influenced the mayor's decision, we did experience difficulties that might be ameliorated in the future, in Portland and elsewhere, by following some of these recommendations.

1) Before setting up tents, draw lines on the ground to establish walking paths throughout the encampment. This can help mollify fire departments (the fire marshall wanted paths 36 inches wide) and improve intra-camp mobility.

2) Choose a sufficiently large space to accommodate all occupants who might show up. Take into account the size of the area's homeless population in calculating this. Consider setting up multiple occupations if no single space seems big enough.

3) Have tents available for the tentless -- at least large tents in which several people can sleep, but preferably small tents for individuals to allow for privacy.

4) Showers! Maybe composting toilets.

5) Sousveillance: Webcams throughout the camp with more webcams available for people to place inside tents. Establish an expectation that privacy will not necessarily be available outside tents, but will be available inside tents.

6) Active and intense (but not pushy) outreach toward all newcomers to the camp, to help find ways in which they will enjoy participating.

7) Start meetings for committees/working groups before the occupation, even those dealing with internal camp issues.

8) Chuck the whole "99%" thing. Identifying the movement or oneself with any particular group inevitably sets up an antagonistic dynamic. Instead, formulate slogans and arguments around the concepts of horizontal organization, non-competitiveness (gift economies), direct democracy, volunteering, and freedom.

9) Consider chucking the tactics of marching, chanting, and sign-waving after a space has been occupied. These tactics seem most appropriate when the entire society is built on irrational premises and no physical space is available for working within rational parameters. Under such circumstances, the best options available may involve disrupting the workings of the irrational system, and loudly calling attention to your grievances. After a space has been occupied, energies seem more profitably directed toward the camp -- toward the sociological prototype that we hope will be copied by the rest of society.

10) Encourage as much of the general population of the surrounding area as possible to attend and participate in the general assembly (GA) meetings, spokescouncils, and/or unfacilitated open forums. I am not clear about the necessity of having a "decision-making" body after an occupation has been established. The main decisions that our GAs made during the occupation seemed to involve putting statements on the Occupy Portland website with the comment that "This is an official statement of the General Assembly." Rather than focusing on gaining approval for proposals, our energies might be more profitably directed toward improving the processes by which the meetings are conducted. Let's examine the online system that Occupy Wall Street has launched for conducting their GAs, and investigate ways of conducting inter-Occupation meetings online. For meetings in meatspace, having a large screen in front and a public-address system seem very helpful.

11) Have WiFi covering the camp, and distribute portable Internet-connected devices to everyone.

12) Maximize cooperation with police, government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, etc.

13) Launch an online Social Register to which anyone can add their names, photos, and contact info.

14) Gardens, greenhouses, fish farms, etc.

15) Alternative energy devices.

16) Nametags!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Portland: stuff that happened this week, stuff that could happen in the future

On Wednesday, one guy was yelling "open the street! open the street!" in front of the barricaded street between the two occupied park blocks. I talked with him and some other folks out there for about an hour. (The street is now open again; the police arrested 8 barricaders Thursday morning after politely allowing any barricaders who didn't want to be arrested to vacate the street.)

The General Assembly, which invites anyone to attend, speak, and vote, is pretty established as the governing body for the occupied blocks and related activities, such as marches. So we've already succeeded in establishing a foothold for direct democracy. I think most of us would like for that model to expand outward -- for all kinds of living communities, working communities, recreational spaces, etc. to be governed by the people involved rather than by pre-established hierarchies. People working in a factory could form a General Assembly and start deciding for themselves how to run the factory rather than taking orders from executives. The General Assembly model seems OK for now, and preferable to the other currently existing, hierarchical governing bodies, such as companies and governments, but I think it will inevitably quickly evolve into other models, probably online democratic systems, like I've been blogging about for years. The New Yorkers are already launching an online system for conducting their General Assemblies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Portland

We're feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and participating in a community based on voluntarism, gifts, and direct democracy -- in other words, actual democracy, where everyone participates in setting policies.

Last night at the General Assembly, we made a decision about how to make decisions (I copied these bullet points from where it was posted two days ago, as a proposal; last night the proposal passed and became policy.)

* After discussion of a proposal, facilitators will ask to “see the consensus of the assembly”, by asking who agrees, who disagrees, and who stands aside. These proportions will always be recognized and recorded, as the basis for further development of the proposal, and/or autonomous action by those that agree.
* If there is very strong support for a proposal, the facilitators may ask to see if there are any remaining blocking concerns. If there are not, this can be considered a “full consensus of the assembly”. This has the greatest legitimacy for action on behalf of the whole.
* When appropriate, a consensus of 90% or more of the assembly, regardless of blocks, can be considered an “agreement of the assembly”. Depending on the proportion, this has relatively less legitimacy as “speaking for the whole” and should be used cautiously with understanding that there are unresolved major concerns.

The encampment has become a fully functioning village. There are committees for peacekeeping, engineering, medical, food, sanitation, safety, media, etc. etc. It has become a living model of how to organize society without hierarchy or money, a model which can keep spreading outward indefinitely. So the "protesting" is actually turning into an honest-to-goodness worldwide nonviolent revolution :-)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Social Graph Transformation Algorithm (SGTA) project update

The Open Mesh Project ( seeks to democratize the Internet on the hardware level, with nodes automatically connecting to physically nearby nodes. The SGTA project seeks to lubricate and democratize content distribution -- to mediate a broad, deep, continuous, global conversation, with nodes automatically connecting to physically and semantically nearby nodes.

Externalizing/sharing our imaginations

We seem to be undergoing a transition into a more flexible, more visual, mode of communication -- an accelerating externalization and conglomeration of our individual imaginations. The inventions of drawing and writing thousands of years ago could be considered early stages in this transition. Today, computer/Internet technology seems to be playing a key role in our psycho-techno-social-linguistic evolution. As of May 2011, we seem primed for the creation and widespread adoption of algorithms that will express/subsume/automate/sublimate the previous "linear," "verbal" modes of communication, folding knowledge from our various linguistic legacies into an intuitive, online, graphical communication/programming environment.

We have always drawn upon shared knowledge bases, shared complexes of linguistic structures, in order to speak to each other. We continuously encounter linguistic structures, witness the associations to other structures they evoke in our imaginations, and choose which of these structures we will pay immediate attention to. Now that large portions of our species' knowledge bases have been put online, it seems appropriate to expect a similar associative-imaginative process to play out on our computer screens, relieving our brains of substantial cognitive burdens and turning web browsing into an experience of navigating through continuously self-transforming, uncannily intelligent-seeming, images.

Feedback loops by which SGTAs may aid in the transition from textual to graphical internet interfaces

Algorithms that automatically transform our social graphs could conceivably be plugged into interfaces to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., as they currently exist, without any immediate change to the look and feel of the interfaces. The only apparent difference at first would be the occasional, unbidden appearance of updates from new friends, and the occasional disappearance of others. Then, as our social graphs grow more complex, more subtly reflective of our actual interests and concerns, we will find it increasingly convenient to use our social media interfaces as our primary interfaces, or portals, to the entire Internet.

We tend to think of social graphs as methods of filtering the streams of data flowing onto our screen. But they may also soon be seen as equally powerful modes of expression. We will potentially want to include in our social graphs anything we become particularly interested in, since that will cause information related to those interests to appear on our screens and will help keep us abreast of the latest developments about those interests. Your SGTAs will include in your graphs new nodes likely to be of interest based on your previous graphs and on your input actions. As more of our work goes online, as more of our online life becomes attached to social media, and as social media filter our datastreams in more sophisticated/dynamic ways, we will be able to express more complex ideas via patterns of URLs in our social graphs.

We will naturally be interested in ways of maximizing the feedback we can receive in response to anything we say and do, and also conversely, in ways of maximizing the amount of our own feedback, our own reactions, that we can provide to whatever information we are exposed to. Using the social graph as a kind of central organizing metaphor would seem appropriate given the assumption that almost everything we do on our computers will soon be online. Your social graph, continuously evolving, will factor into the second-to-second choices your interface makes about which data to present to you. It will also provide everyone else on the Internet with up-to-the-second data about what's going on with you. Since your social graph will keep getting updated in response to your input anyway, why not use it as The Last Text-Based Data Format We'll Ever Need, allowing all other data formats, codes, etc., to be expressed "in terms of" the social graph?

In other words, some data format similar to what has become known as a social media user's "social graph" (a filter for determining which datastreams will appear on our screens) appears both necessary for future Internet interfaces and, if it evolves automatically in response to our input, sufficient as a meta-format for expressing whatever we may want to express online. "What we want to say" can merge with "what we want to see."

With so much (increasingly salient) data available, the process of reading and writing linear text will become a major constraint on the speed with which we can navigate. Out of concern both for efficiency and for aesthetics, we will seek wherever possible to communicate through images. As we see already beginning to happen in our social media feeds, which feature an avatar next to each update and expandable thumbnail photos of last night's parties, images will gain a foothold wherever possible, colonize whatever territory they can, and declare as Benjamin Netanyahu did today: "let nobody be mistaken, we are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty." There will be no going back once a particular area of knowledge has been visualized online; our interfaces will automatically search out and serve up rotating arrays of images potentially relevant to what we're doing, and we'll obviously tend to prefer dealing with images rather than text, when the choice is there.

Anything with a URL attached to it can be included in a social graph, so Wikipedia articles, Semantic Web objects, Google Images, YouTube videos, etc. will easily be assimilated into this new environment. For instance, images and videos of the Deepwater Horizon explosion will automatically appear when your interface detects that you have been hanging out around nodes that correlate strongly with that incident based on the links in your social graph and on second-order links (links in the social graphs to which your graph links), third-order links, etc. If someone on the other side of the planet is researching the same incident at the same time as you, then in a scenario of continuously transforming social graphs having become our primary tools of expression and discovery, that person's avatar might very well appear on your screen and vice versa. The more you interact with the incident, the more frequently your avatar and other images associated with you will appear on the screens of subsequent Deepwater buffs. In such ways, the browsing activity of millions of people will build up increasingly comprehensive associations between images. Eventually we will have built up ultra-efficient all-graphical routes by which we can quickly navigate to images representing just about any idea we could want to express -- from programming concepts like "if-then" relationships to something like "the grade school years of Frederic Chopin."

The mathematics of conversation (/imagination/intelligence)

Say you're having a conversation with one or more other people. You think of something to say, but you don't say it yet. Maybe you hold your thought for a fraction of a second before saying it, maybe longer, or maybe you don't say it at all. How do you decide whether and when to say it? We might list some very general considerations that would tend to push you toward or away from delivering your line. Anything you might say would tend to express something true about where you're coming from, turning your private experiences into public information. On the other hand, anything you say will interrupt the previously established flow of the conversation, potentially disrupting some delicately balanced equilibrium.

Sometimes something so appropriate or clever occurs to you that you say it almost unhesitatingly, anticipating (probably correctly) that it will contribute significantly to the quality or complexity of the discussion. Other times, you may speak less out of a sense of the salience of your words than out of a sense of the value of saying either anything at all or anything that meets certain conditions.

Could the decision of when, or whether, or to what extent to potentiate/perpetuate/actuate/deliver a given verbalization be expressed as some sort of product of a) the value/salience of the message content, and b) the value of maintaining the channel/medium/relationship through which the message is sent? Factors a) and b) could each potentially take both positive and negative values. Then, how would we quantify these two factors, as well as the process of potentiation/perpetuation/etc. in terms of social graphs?

I don't have the math worked out quite yet (except for an "alpha version" of an ), and I have probably gotten kind of messianic and ahead of myself about this at times, but I still have a very strong suspicion that something like this is coming soon and will contribute significantly to extreme accelerations of communications efficiency, which will help solve economic/political/social crises, which in turn will help smooth the road toward the development of Singularity-type technologies.


I would of course be interested in everyone's impressions of all this. Delusion, brilliance, neither, both? Any ideas for the SGTA beta version?

Josh Maurice

[1:23 PM 10-11-15: changed 'clever' to 'appropriate or clever' ~ deleted outdated contact/fundraising info]