New Start-Up LBRY is Complex Solutions to Simple Problems


I’ve spent some time trying to work through this popular AskMeAnything today from the creators of LBRY: We’re the nerds behind LBRY: a decentralized, community-owned YouTube alternative that raised a half million dollars yesterday – let’s save the internet

What’s the Problem?

The best I’ve been able to narrow it down, the main issues that LBRY seems to be trying to address are:
  1. Corporate ownership of distribution channels.
  2. Content Producer’s ability to maintain IP and control over distribution/advertisement of their own content
  3. Content Consumer’s inability to connect with and support Content Creator through traditional forms of paper/non-digital currency

What’s the Solution?

According to the OP, /u/kauffj, self proclaimed Chief Nerd:

LBRY helps move the internet from corporate and government control and back into the hands of everyday users and people.

So… MAKE THE INTERNET GREAT AGAIN? Back to this idealized time, back when it wasn’t in control of the government and corporations? It should be noted that government institutions, more or less created the internet, mainly through universities funded by military contracts. I’m not 100% sure what we’re going back to.
I’ll say what LBRY isn’t saying, since the AMA is being run by self-proclaimed Nerds and not us smooth-talkin’ marketin folks:
LBRY helps move distribution away from the advertisement and personal data-driven marketplace (think YouTube and Facebook) and allows people to support their consumption either through literally hosting content through their ISP or by paying creators in a newly created blockchain cryptocurrency.
These guys are trying to create a blockchain/democratized media distribution platform. I applaud them for that effort.
But… plot hole: why does there always have to be a *MORE COMPLICATED* solution to what is essentially, a very basic problem?
This comes from some incomplete thinking. Basically: there’s a technology problem and we need a technology solution to solve it. But by creating an incredibly complex solution (seriously, just scan through this “ungodly essay”), what is the likelihood of it’s adoption? What is the likelihood of accomplishing your stated goal of “saving the internet?”
In design, we have a basic tenant that SIMPLE = GOOD.
That’s the Steve Jobs line of thinking: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”
Other theorists claim that Elegant is the enemy of Good. Or that Elegant is a Privilege. Both have a strong argument.
But what matters most, to the Realist, is: Will People Adopt this New Technology? Or, Who the Fuck is Going to See This?

The Mythical “Way-It-Used-To-Be”

The most democratic form of media distribution is oral history. Storytelling. Then, perhaps, carving letters into stone. Soon, though, motherfuckers be charging me for stones and chisels because I’m lazy and I don’t want to carve my own tablet.
Unfortunately, the reality is that communication channels have been controlled by the rich and powerful for a long time. Literacy is a relatively modern invention, and even then, literacy is mostly wasted on the internet. The scribes were paid for by royalty or religious institutions. The art was paid for by the patrons. Even the printing press, a major step forward in democratic knowledge spreading, was controlled by the elite.
Knowledge and language are not inherently democratic. The hackers write that, “information wants to be free.” I’m not convinced. Anarchists want information to be free.
More importantly, the trend throughout history is that Information wants to be hidden, often in jargon or complex equations, in secret languages or offline servers. Luther’s translation of the Bible into German broke apart the seams of society. Our financial systems are encoded in a secret language spoken by those with MBAs and international finance backgrounds.

Information, when left to it’s own devices becomes more complex, not less.

It’s exhausting, no? Why should it be that for Information to become Free, it has to become immeasurably complex? It doesn’t have to be that way, and it hasn’t always been the solution.
I think that LBRY has great intentions but poor execution, because you can explain it to your Grandma and you can’t interrupt a broadcast with it. They need to keep simplifying.

For Inspiration: Hack the System

The first point is to stop fighting technology with more technology. Use the existing tools to create interventions in the here and now, on the distribution channels that already exist.
If the well-educated and now, seemingly, well-funded team behind LBRY went a little deeper, peeled back the onion, they maybe wouldn’t have to create entire new protocols. Rise up, make art, create interventions. These Anarcho-capitalist solutions are so much more insane than the opportunities to create interventions.
An open-source peer-distributed digital protocol hits all of the bingo boxes for a solution I’d be very eager about. I recognize that LBRY seeks to create a brand new means of distribution and that these interventions mentioned above utilize existing protocols and technologies, so it’s not exactly their solution.
Democratic distribution exists: buy a projector. Invite strangers to a space to view your media. Or surprise them in public. Send out free CD’s. Share. But raising capital to create a system this complex?
This is the problem with making an apple pie from scratch. First, you have to invent the universe. Their stated goal is to take back the internet. Is LBRY really the best way to do it?
Wesley Wolfbear Pinkham is co-creator of Optimystic Media, a co-op for nomadic media professionals. He is a graduate of the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures.

I, Human


An Introduction to Technology and Media of Our New Village

(Originally published as the introduction to the Technology section in Reinhabiting the Village)

“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”
Albert Camus


To write an introduction to Technology for the purposes of re-entering our communal village is to write a history of society from our humble roots. No other animal has tapped into the sacred knowledge of its surroundings to create such an exponential impact on its environment. Wildly creative and devastatingly destructive, the long march of progress is our genetic and manufactured legacy. But if we are, as Camus claims, the singular creature who refuses to remain true to our nature, then is that not the very essence of Man?

Before we jump into the meal, let’s set the table with an attempt at defining Technology. I propose the following: Technology is any means of invention harnessed to express that which was previously unable to be expressed.

That is, it is any creation along the timeline of existence that has helped us to accomplish something that we were otherwise unable to accomplish. This includes smartphones and the code which drives its software. It includes pens and the symbols we draw with them to communicate with one another. In fact, it includes the very intonation of sound beyond the most animalistic of grunts and songs, what we call language.

Technology is everything that separates us from our most primitive nature; it is the vehicle by which we refuse to be what we are.

The Technomythology of Man (Prometheus Absolved)

First, there was a body. With it, legs and limitations, opposable thumbs and an instinct for survival. The corporeal experience was a deep inner knowledge of foraging and fighting. Displays of dominance intermingled with the discovery of cooperation.

The uneasy balance of consequence and community elevated our bodies from a vessel of cells into an expression of a complex system of movement and sound, dance and song.

We learned to communicate our needs, and fulfill them in ourselves and those in our nearest surroundings. In time, those needs became wants and desires. These luxuries became staples of the human experience: shelter, warmth, and companionship.

Touch and noise were not enough for our genetic ancestors, they sought understanding. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, takes this one step further, saying that “love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

Out of body language came symbols. Out of noises came expressions. We carved our identity into our surroundings, painting in caves, drawing in sand. We sought connection and a shorthand way to express knowledge. Our time was short and our legacies were always in danger. We utilized the technologies of primitive tools and language to make our lives easier. Convenience was a survival tactic.

How complex thought evolved from language is, at this moment, a chicken and egg conundrum for cognitive historians. When man began to name the animals, the trees and their children, they began utilizing a nodal, pattern-based cognition in a way that few creatures can claim.

I should state that I am not a linguistic anthropologist. But as the question of how language originated remains one of the most confounding evolutionary questions remaining, I think it is safe to posit the following: it seems likely that through language, we evolved into consciousness and self awareness. Sounds turned to symbols, or perhaps they turned into words, or perhaps symbols turned into sounds and back into symbols.

In the Biblical creation myth, Man names the animals and only much later does he feast on the fruit of knowledge, able to determine good from bad. But the fruit must be a superfluous symbol at this point; we had already begun our need to understand.

By identifying the relationships between us and not-us, the vastness of the Universe began its true unfolding. All technological progress has been an unwinding of the sacred truths in the mysteries of the physical world. We have always found the next level of technology in the discovery of new traits in the natural world: fire, wheel, paper… All invention is inherently organic, coming from the complex fabric of the chemical, electrical and energetic intricacies of our surroundings.

But the mythological components of invention — the aspects of discovery that linked man to the spirit — have been replaced by a faith in the ingenuity of human cleverness. Because our technological advances are shrouded in complexity, in biotech or microprocessors or satellite systems, we have lost the appreciation for the grand mystery of it all.

Since the Age of Reason, we have absolved Prometheus of his sin — delivering fire to humans from the hands of Zeus — and unnecessarily stripped the sacrament from science.  

If there’s one tangible synergy that the Village can bring to Technology, it is to rekindle the flame of coexistence between the unnecessary bifurcation between spirit and science. The answers we seek must bridge the gap between the holy paradox of knowing and not-knowing.


All of these technological advances have been mired by the sheer force of distance. Across vast continents, we developed an inability to speak the same language. We built systems too complex, too full of proprietary nuance for one person to understand and we became inextricably interdependent on each other’s specializations.

And we too became more complex, more proprietary and more nuanced. We said, “I cannot understand myself, let alone my brother,” and we sought a creator mysterious and vast enough to know us.

We have accomplished so much of what we could imagine: space flight, telepathy in the form of smartphones, solar power. Exponential growth in science and technology are closing the gaps between reality and our wildest dreams.

Freud conceptualizes the distance between Man and his gods as the distance between what he could do and what was unattainable. “Now he has himself approached very near to realizing this ideal, he has nearly become a god himself,” he writes. “Future ages will produce further great advances in this realm of culture, probably inconceivable now, and will increase man’s likeness to a god still more.”

Every step of the way, our collective intelligence has been the method of discovery. This is what I’m referring to as synchromysticism: the ability of our shared experiences to lead to the “Eureka” moments that make inventors famous. How could there ever be a Thomas Edison without the universe from which he came? How many people may have simultaneously discovered fire or the wheel or a toothbrush but had no way to share it with the world? What are the core truths hidden amongst all of the world’s religions?

Many of these systems — trademark, copyright, Digital Rights Management — will come to a close within time. It is so rare to truly “discover” anything in this world without borrowing: from another culture, era or field. All technology is a remix of what came before it.

How often have you thought of a brilliant idea, only to think, “someone must have already thought of that”? Before the internet age, you may have still executed that idea, done it differently, or at least experienced the act of simultaneous creation. Now, though you may be put off to doing something that’s already been done, you are also able to connect with those who share in the same line of thinking. Great minds think alike, as they say.

For centuries, the means of transmitting information had become increasingly proprietary.

Revealed truths became codified and canonized in secret tongues, held by kings and mystics. Mythology became a seasonal experience, called upon for harvest, for rain, for teaching children their obligations and initiate them into adulthood, to move the soul from the physical realm to the one after life.

Was it necessary for the mystic, the shaman, the priest(ess) to separate themselves from the general population? Or for religion to hide knowledge in the catacombs of bureaucracy? In the New Village, we see a need for universal training in mystical thinking: infusing healing, prayer, and medicine into every corner of life. We desire open source spirituality, and an interface for sharing sacred knowledge, plugging in variables from our own experience and connecting to a larger database of generational understanding.

Technology as Universal Language

In getting back to the history of our humble little planet… Just when Nationalism had scarred our surfaces… Just when World War had hardened our hearts… Just when nihilism seemed to explain it all… We built a computer.

In this neutral instrument of war, we saw a glimmer of ourselves in its mainframe. Its electrical pulses and analytical thought showed us what was unique in the human condition. The analytical components of computation shined a light on our states of both Calculator and Being.

The millennia of ambiguous metaphor was sliced apart, and a cross section of humanity exposed itself of its true nature. We began to analyze The Code. Data. DNA. Algorithmic regularity. In a long stream of 1’s and 0’s, reality revealed itself like a chess game with basic rules but a playbook of infinite possibilities.

We began to read the code and we took the new language and wrote it into pictures and phones and medicine. We played and warred and danced to it. And we turned our consciousness back into itself, discovering the possibilities and limitations in encapsulating an entire human being into a digital language.

Wind through your hair. Boredom. Orgasm. The taste of water. Any and all experience have an underlying electrical/chemical reaction. We simultaneously became both infinitesimally small and quantumly expansive. As we become more bionic, we begin to better understand and appreciate the sensory experiences this world has to offer.

Living Life by the Scientific Method

Perhaps the greatest joy in incorporating all of these advances into our new village is finding the synergy between what has always worked in communal experiences and what is new and exciting to the senses. By infusing the scientific method into the sacred art of living, we are capable of building systems that address the needs of our time in the most tangible and accessible way possible.

In the 20th century, many villages were conceived and created based on back-to-nature principles that excluded themselves from the modern conveniences of the era. As previously mentioned, technology and convenience are a means of survival. They make repetitive tasks easier, allowing us to focus on what the next opportunities could be in our evolutionary growth.

In the 21st century and beyond, if we can embrace modernity and re-imagine the tools of mass culture for the purposes of building connection as opposed to ego-driven self-interests, we can synthesize the need for living as a village and enjoying the fruits of our technological advances. By utilizing the scientific method, we create experiments in living that do not limit the parameters of success to whether an idea does or does not work. Instead, we can play out our ideas and learn from the real-life examples as a means of growth and deeper understanding. By sharing our experiences, through words, videos and travel, we accept our role in the outcomes of our own generation. We feel gratitude towards the progress which brought us to this point. We humbly embrace the challenge to leave the world better for future generations.

Festivals Should Encourage Our Freak Flags to Fly



(originally posted at Fest300)

Beyond the party, after the substances lose their mystery, once our friends have disappeared into the aether of “see-you-at-the-next-one,” we finally arrive home. We put on some downtempo beats, step into that long, delicious post-festival shower, and eventually find our reflection staring strangely back at us in the mirror.

The wristband, the speck of glitter, the costume piece we just don’t want to take off, they’re the subtle reminders of the freak flag flying inside of us. Our return to normal, the “decompression” after a festival, is a stark and sometimes painful reminder that there are facets to our personalities longing to be set free and accepted.

In 2011, I had to drive off-site to pick up some thousand feet of extension cables for The Do LaB. I decided to keep my little pink pig ears on as I walked into the Home Depot. They fit so perfectly, the headband disappearing into my shaggy, wild hair. Upon asking the way to the bathroom, an employee pointed in its direction, and out of nowhere, turned to me with a smile and said, “Do you want to race there?”

I turned, stunned. We raced. It was playful and out of the ordinary. It was one of those strange moments that brings a little bit more magic into the seemingly mundane.

That process of elevating the everyday into something sacred or rare is a special art form. Performance art, maybe. The art of living. And we often look to artists to teach us how to live, how to express our wildest selves.

Don’t Dream It, Be It

Lucidity 2015 Michelle Grambeau Girl Clown Face

In the outpouring of sadness around David Bowie’s death, one particular sentiment stuck out to me, from author, Sara Benincasa:

He was the patron saint of all my favorite fellow travelers: the freaks, the fags, the dykes, the queers, the weirdos of all stripes, and that most dangerous creature of all: the artist… He was so marvelously, spectacularly weird, and he gave so many oddballs, including this one, hope.

Throughout time, festivals have served as a crossroads of the sacred and profane, marking challenging human experiences with ceremony beyond the realm of mortal understanding. They are an invitation to figuratively dance with death, to try on new faces or personas, to slip into another gender or even play the role of the gods (see, for example, Donald Cosentino’s compendium Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou ).

That’s why, in the face of hate or bigotry, in light of a certain festival co-opting the language of transformational festivals in favor of the medieval values that repress free expression, we celebrate the freaky weirdos that teach us how to live, and inspire us to be better.

Opening the Portal

Lerina Winter 2015 Holding Hands

Photo by: Lerina Winter

Festivals are that gateway to discovering the artist within. It’s the job of a festival to create a safe space for self-expression and experimentation. Festivals and their festies create new maps and chart new territory. We cannot leave breadcrumbs to the prisons of our past. We have to move forward, onward, upward, bravely through our fears.

Discovering a whole world ready to accept you exactly as you want to be is liberating. It’s also alienating, leaving you gasping for more. Alas, festival-goers are a fractured bunch, nomadic, each on their own journey.

You’re ALL In My Squad

Lightning In A Bottle 2015 Conner Coughenour   50

So this is an invitation to praise and honor the neon hair, the anthropomorphic, the geek, the well-dressed dandy, and the guy in jeans and an awesome metal band t-shirt.

Let’s roll back the flaps of our Eazy-Ups, tear up the VIP Guest List, power up the OPEN sign and welcome in the strangers, wandering through the desert on their search for something more inclusive and meaningful in their own lives.

Here’s to the tattooed crusty punk, dog in tow. Here’s to the mohawk and the dreadlocks, the counterculture and the mainstream, the beatniks, the permaculture masters, the tech mavens and the guy who busts out, I swear, the best dance move you have ever seen and you’re not sure if anyone else even saw it.

Here’s to the minimalists and the pack rats, the crew that’s been with you for 15 years and the new friends that you feel like you’ve known your entire life. Here’s to inclusion and love, an embrace of the wacky and a resounding “YES” to the uncomfortable and challenging.

Here’s to David Bowie, gender-bender to Young American. Here’s to Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show, dressed in drag, floating in a pool, whispering to us, “don’t dream it, be it.”

And while we embrace and love the Rainbow and the Unicorn, we grapple with the darkness of these old paradigm beliefs. We look into our dark histories, as a nation and as individuals. We feel shame and guilt. Comedian Louis C.K. wonders, while reading Tom Sawyer to his kids, “How do you cope with sh*t in your past that’s bad? How do you feel like a good country when you’ve done sh*tty things as an entire nation? How do you take your past and still feel good?”

We look in the mirror and we see the whole picture. We see that we have choices laid out in front of us, to continue to live and act within the norm, to be just the person we’re expected to be, or to become the person we know we’re capable of becoming.

We are finally emerging from that post-festival cleanse. We look fabulous and we smell fantastic. We feel close and connected, even if we’re not in the same room. And when we look in the mirror, we see in our own reflection the colors and madness of all of our fellow Freaky Weirdos.

I’m a mass shooter

Blog, Photography, Writing Samples


I’m a mass shooter
Hands clasped around an automatic trigger
Crosshairs pointed down long barrels at
Shimmering dreams and setting suns

I’m a weapon of mass deconstruction
Analyzing and theorizing how to justify
The end of civility and to usher in
A new C(K)ali fate

Weapon drawn, I’m strapped for days, sporting
Flashbang Memory
LP-E12 Battery
Shoulder Rig and Go Pros
Canons at the ready
24 Frames Per Second

I’m a pixel warrior
Waging my wager with the

Climbing behind my single lens reflex
I wear my media badge of honor and fight against
The lonesomeness we feel when we walk outside in the morning and no one says our name or wonders where we’ve been holed up for days crying tears of solitude as we grab real weapons and turn them on those who could have saved us with just a little kindness

I point my camera at you to tell you that you are loved
and you are beautiful
and your story is worth telling
and your heart is worth hearing

I am a mass shooter
And my weapon is glass and lasers
Story telling at the speed of light and
Protecting that which can never be destroyed

I clutch my camera closely and inscribe
“This Machine Kills Fascists”

The Do Lab: A Mainline Between the Mainstream and the Underground


Lightning In a Bottle 2015 finds The Do LaB staring in the mirror, feeling the pulse of everything its crew has built up to this point. Its finally settling into a venue. It had its biggest year yet at Coachella. There’s another strong line-up set to perform. Seems like the perfect storm, no? Will it succeed in educating and inspiring a huge swath of new fest-going folks to wake up and try something different in their lives? Come May 21, we’ll know for sure.

One note, a caveat, on my recent published piece over at Fest300… I’d like to offer the unedited ending, which I think preserves a different cadence from the final version that was posted:

A Toast to The Wild

So, as you prepare, or pack, or consider buying a ticket, I offer a toast to Lightning in a Bottle 2015:

A toast to your wild side, strange and unfettered by expectation or necessity. May you nurture your inner animal and your outer human.

A toast to your dichotomy, a daily contradiction filled with meditation and debauchery. To a nightly insurrection of synchronicity and magic!

May your mindset be malleable, your dance moves infallible. To jokes that are laughable, to looking your most and least photographable!

I wish you safe journeys as you try on new ideas, new clothes, and new identities. Though Transformation is quite a tall order, may you be transformed just by having made the effort, even in the smallest of ways. Woogie down.

Read the rest of the article on Fest300 (link).