Reclaim the Republic

i think this is more than appropriate for a post on independence day:

i have been a big fan of lawrence lessig since i read his books in college on copyright – his insight that a world where everything is copyrighted would diminish creativity made a lot of sense, and i shared his outrage with the sunny bono copyright extension (micky mouse protection) act showing the influence on corporations on unreasonable lawmaking.

what has fascinated me about lessig as a person was that he started out as a young republican, but let the knowledge he acquired shifted his views. he became a ‘liberal’ or more left-leaning scholar and has made great contributions in the area of copyright (or copyleft) law. and he has shifted the focus of his work yet again, and is dedicating 100% of his time on the issue of corruption in politics. if you’ve been reading my blog, you might know that this is one of the fundamental problems i see in the current system.

because he does not only follow his obligation as an academic but also as a citizen, he is working to get money out and people back in to politics with the organization rootstrikers. i encourage you to check it out!

the TED talk is great, because lessig is simply a great speaker whose presentation style has inspired countless others. but lessig’s magnum opus of talks was a lecture he gave when he was appointed professor at harvard.

the lecture honored the memory and work of Aaron Swartz, the hacker, activist and citizen who took his own life on Jan. 11, 2013 at the age of 26 after facing serious charges under the computer fraud and abuse act. i had heard of the incident, but i really didn’t know that much about swartz besides that he was one of the people behind the movement against SOPA/PIPA. lessig provides a fascinating account of swartz’ life and legacy and leaves no doubt that he was another hero of our time. he also warns about a dangerous direction the USA, once the model of freedom and diversity, has taken. so this is my ‘happy fourth of july’ contribution!

most of these figures seem fairly accurate, at least the general dimensions/relations!

dieses video über goldman sachs macht gerade die runde, würde das schon als akkurate doku einschätzen, auch wenn die sprache nicht immer ganz journalistisch-neutral klingt (remember this guy?). es wird zeit, dieses widerliche finanz- & geldsystem zu ändern!

[in german, hope english subtitles will be added soon!]

the one euro experiment

if you live in a larger city, you might know that feeling (somewhere between awkward & awful) after you don’t give change to the beggar/musician/street magazine seller, especially if they hang around in the same subway car till the next stop. of course, there’s lots of ways to rationalize it. “i’m not giving them money for booze”, “giving doesn’t help them, i rather give to [NGO of choice]”, or my favorite: “if i gave every beggar money, i’d soon be one of them.”

however, in the end, these are just rationalizations to feel better. to most people, it doesn’t feel quite right to look the other way, so they come up with these excuses. after thinking about charles eisenstein’s gift economy for a while now (check out the amazing occupy love video as well), and being inspired by three australian artists i had a coffee with this morning, i decided to try out something: for one month, i’m going to give everyone i meet that is asking for money, one euro or buy their street magazine.

admittedly, it’s not much – but it’s a start (and imagine everybody did it…). let’s see how much money i spent after 30 days,  whether the good feeling from helping was worth it, and what else i will learn from the experience. as a freelancer & avid networker, i spend a lot of time out and about in berlin and come across a lot of people. i’m certainly not rich, but i am fairly certain that this experiment won’t make me poor. and i really don’t care how the money is spent, because i’d probably spend it on booze myself anyway! ;)

i’ll also try to take their picture, and depending on how much time i have, find out a little more about them. during lunch today, i had my first opportunity: i was asked for a donation to a local children’s theater that is looking to crowdfund a mobile stage. unfortunately, i can’t find the note with the name of the company or the person, and he also didn’t want his photo on the internet, so i only got a photo of him with his cap over his face. not the most interesting kick-off to talk about on the blog, but the project isn’t so much about documentation (i don’t think i will document it every day on the blog), but more about a learning experience. let’s see how it goes!

by the way, the project that inspired this is called deliverance: three australian artists are occupying a 5x6m space in berlin for 10 days and started with absolutely nothing – not even clothes as you can see in the picture below. i was riding my bike this morning, and when i passed their area, i decided to stop and share some of the bananas i had just bought. it was sunny, so i had a seat, some coffee and a chat with them. in the short time i spent there, i witnessed four people who donated food, water, and coffee. it got me thinking about people’s generosity, and why it rarely extends to the people we see (almost) every day. i kept thinking about it, and by the time i was having lunch, the project was born!

charles eisenstein talking about the gift economy. same guy that was featured in the awesome occupy love clip! his video speaks a lot to me, and the solutions he lists make a lot of sense (negative interest, internalization of costs, social dividend, relocalization, p2p finance), gonna check out his book!

an economy that embodies the principles of the gift is an economy that is simply grounded in the truth. the task before us is to align money with the true expression of our gifts.