No Gods, No Masters

The power of decentralised, self-organising communities to change the world.

In the past, our cultural systems relied on centralisation to manage and share information.  Our political structures, our finance system and even our local Girl Guides still run on these principles.  Information goes up, gets managed, and then gets spread back down the pyramid.

This is a restriction based on inefficient communication systems.  Back when the costs of communication were high it made sense, but new, decentralised structures are forming.  They are self-organising systems with no nodal point that is vulnerable to the whims of the few. These systems are allowing the sharing of knowledge, accommodation, travel, files and even currency.

Below we will go through the evolution of decentralised networks.  Bitcoin will be used as a case study, and the implications of decentralisation will be discussed.

How Things Change

The printing presses broke the stranglehold on knowledge and for the first time people could share their thoughts without the blessings of gods or kings.  But the production costs were high and this medium fell back into the hands of the rich and powerful.  For example 97% of Australian print media is now owned by just 3 parties.


whether kings sneered or marvelled, they all fell to the might of print.

The internet has shattered this stranglehold on information.   But the powers that be have spent the past decade doggedly trying to jam the cat back into the bag.  The FBI have “given the privilege” (their words) to social media platforms to add back doors to make wire tapping easierThe USA wants to create internet licenses and the censorship of internet traffic is already occurring.  The fact that we have tried to follow suit before, and undoubtedly will again, does not inspire confidence.

The Power of Peer-to-Peer

The only issue faced by those that try to impose the structures of the old onto a new digital world is that it’s a bit tricky.  In China, anything considered anti-government, or falling under their moderately dystopian criteria, is banned.  But a VPN and a plucky attitude will get you your Facebook fix. In Turkey, a ban on Twitter saw an increase of twitter usage 138%!

The issue is the internet still passes through pipes controlled by centralised bodies.  But as the stranglehold tightens people are turning to truly decentralised solutions.

Peer-to-peer networks are now being used to manage files, share knowledge and create new currencies.

Lets have a look at the decentralised network and currency called bitcoin.  This network that can be used to buy everything from soap to trips into space.

Bitcoin – The Peer-To-Peer, Programmable Currency

Bitcoin is a system that allows units of value to be transferred from one party to another.  It doesn’t pass through a central verification party (for example a bank or a credit card provider). Instead it is maintained by thousands of computers around the world that work in unison to verify transactions.

This matters because control of money is control of a populace and a government with absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.  Look at the capital controls in China or the bank account draining that occurred in Cyprus.

The best example of the power of decentralised money is Wikileaks.  This is a group that holds the government to account by revealing the sensitive side of running the world. War crimes, financial manipulation and global mass surveillance may be par for the course. But we deserve to know the atrocities committed in our names.

When Wikileaks started rocking the boat too hard, all major payment providers cut them off.  By adding a bitcoin address, they were able to receive donations again.  They could pay server and living costs, and continue their good work.


Julian Assange – a normal life discarded for the right to freedom of speech.

Self-organized and Open Source

The entire bitcoin community consists of developers, entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to contribute.

The code is open source and is managed with complete transparency on github.  Anyone that wants to analyse or dissect it can do so at his or her discretion.

The community is self-organising; there are meet-ups, learning events and conferences.  These events require no governing body and are powered by collectivism.

The Australian Bitcoin Barcamp unconference is a great example of this.  The event had no schedule and on the day people presented talks they had created.  They used a whiteboard to mark what spaces and times they would like to utilise.  No fistfights ensued, no police enforcement was required, just self-organising, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.


He will give and receive knowledge, without a bureaucrat in the middle.

Not Just Money

This network is an economic experiment, but for the first time unique data packets can be transferred.  It goes without saying that the implications of programmable money are still being discovered.

The founders of Pirate Bay are developing a peer-to-peer website service using bitcoin.  This means that the ability for websites to be ‘taken down’ by the powers that be is greatly restricted.  The current system is centralised and thus vulnerable.  Peer-to-Peer hosting has no central point to attack and thus isn’t vulnerable.

There is also a new iteration of bitcoin called namecoin, which is built on the template of bitcoin.  It is an alternative and separate network, designed expressly to register domains.   Instead of a unit of account it has become a global decentralised ledger for domain names.

We’re Not There Yet.

The problem is that these networks are still vulnerable.  There are only a few pipelines that carry the internet between continents.  ISPs and companies that manage data are still at the behest of the government agenda.  The revelations of shocking abuses of our privacy by the NSA are proof of how callous governments can be with our personal liberties.  ISPs can now identify and control data based on its source and type.   This will inevitably be used to stifle communication that challenges old norms.

But innovation will trump stagnation; already true decentralised networks and solutions are being formed.

Why This Matters

Technology and science have always been enemies of the old and harbingers of the new.  Power corrupts and empires fall, but the jewel of human innovation and knowledge must continue to shine.   Creating networks that are robust enough to withstand the attack by the old is the only way forward.

This is why peer-to-peer matters.  This is why decentralised networks and systems of organisation must replace our current systems.  By embracing this new world, governments and people alike can reap the benefits of low cost communication, commerce and innovation.  Try to shackle innovation or make it fit old paradigms and these hulking behemoths of the old will be left where they belong… in the past.




big day out 2063

Originally rejected by the Vulture Magazine. I was asked to write about music festivals of the future. Apparently I missed the mark.


You’ve woken up after five decades on ice. This happens.  You’ve seen movies, I’ve seen movies.  It happens. What’s the first thing you’d do? Considering it’s a post-apocalyptic hellscape with an economy that runs on butter-knives and nails, you’ll probably want to chill, you know, get groovy.

Thankfully, despite the fact that octopi are our overlords and most people work in the oxygen mines (if they’re lucky), music festivals are still around. However they are a bit different. Firstly you don’t just stumble into one after selling your sister’s wii to buy a ticket on gumtree. You have to know the people that run the railroad. You know, THE railroad, a series of electromagnetic rickshaws that lead to the de-com zone. At the border your mandatory smartphone is deactivated.  For a few precious hours participants are unhooked from the digi-scape. Here you are able to think without it going viral, and laugh without then being recommended humorous ways to spend your hard-mined oxygen.

Silence and light are the canvas and paint of the minstrels of 2063.  This is no surprise in a world of screaming digital hurricanes, where octopi ride smugly around on grinding spider turrets. However it’s a few hours before the main act uses augmented sunglasses and earmuffs to take you to a quieter, brighter place. You stroll pass a man-bear, shouting into a can, at the bottom of a pit. He has gathered a crowd but it’s probably mostly holograms and proxies. No one important performs before the bloodside of the moon is out.

Some things never change, and waiting in line for food is one them. You have some money given to you by the nuke-tattooed Al-Rach Faction, who smuggled you into the De-Com zone, in return for the copyright on your bemused likeness as you stumbled into their den. Ironically enough – while most laws have collapsed, copyright laws have only gotten stronger. You finger the butterknives in your pocket as you get closer to the menu, wondering if you’ll have enough spare nails to get a drink as well.

While food as we know it hasn’t really been around since the soil turned bad, thankfully there was enough sneakers made to feed most public events for the next few hundred years. You chew a shoelace listlessly, ambling around hoping you find something that catches your ear.  The schedule appears to be a plasticine cube the others are slowly eating so you can’t really tell if anything good is on.

Finally the masses of tattooed and circuited, mutated and augmented, suited and naked, start to flock around a glowing singularity. Someone hands you glasses and earmuffs, and tendrils of light and silence start to whip around the pockmarked field. Under the shattered dome and blood red sky, surrounded by the piercing wale of the octopi death machines, thousands of freaks are dragged into the singularity by the silence and light.

They won’t be one for long, but for now they are together.


120,000 March Against Abbott And His Xenophobic, Homophobic Corporate Agenda

photo (1)

The March in March was a very powerful event. For one thing, for the first time in a quite a while, the turn out was bigger than the people attending on facebook. (Over 120,000 nationally is a conservative estimate).

For those not in the know, March In March was a national protest, organised as a unified message that we are not happy with the way the government has carried itself in its first term.   Dredging our reef, detaining and murdering those seeking asylum, breaking promises and just generally being terrible.  It is a grass roots movement, with no political affiliations and no corporate sponsors.  The message was spread entirely over social media so I had no idea what to expect.

muffin (1)

The March

My first impression was a jostling, crowded hall leading from Melbourne Central to the square. I was cranky, I’d just eaten a Coles muffin, because I didn’t want to seem like a class traitor and buy a cake at a patisserie.  So I was ready to be disappointed.

I emerged into the throng out the front of the state library and the thoughts of my supermarket muffin dropped from my mind like the crumbs from my mouth. I saw for the first time the power of one message on thousands of lips.

cool guys were getting in the way of my revolution.

Denim and cardigans have their place in the revolution.

The electricity in the air was tangible.  Hippies, crust punks, mothers, fathers, suits, rags, the people. All walks of life there to show their vote of no confidence for our government.

What the elite ruling class forgets is that the more people they cram into the disenfranchised lower classes, the more of ‘us’ there is than ‘them’.

There were thousands of people there, all gleeful, energised with the sudden realisation that they are not alone. The message was clear – free refugees, act for human rights, act on climate change and act on behalf of the people, not the ruling elite.  Give us an NBN, don’t touch our unions and don’t sign the fucking TPP without showing us first.

All we ask for is decency, transparency and accountability.  The simple things promised to us, the government’s side of the social contract.

classes (1)

It's ten times cheaper to integrate a detainee than imprison them.

It’s ten times cheaper to integrate a detainee than imprison them.


The entire march was a huge testament to the power of collectivism.  So many disparate groups coming together to declare their lack of faith in our government.  Exercising their hard won right to hold the ruling class accountable for their actions.  There were a few high points for me though

• Dancing around a roaming drum circle/jazz band/beatboxing fusion crew.

• Floating between the islands of chants like: “Shame Abbott Shame”, “Newtown students got it right, Tony Abbott’s not that bright” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tony Abbott’s got to go”.

• Massing on the stairs of parliament, where a megaphone was passed around, creating a platform for anyone to speak. It was a real parliament on the steps of a false one.  I actually got up and had a little rage about the new move along laws.

• My friend lifting his daughter into the air to the disgruntled traffic cut off by the parade.  “We’re doing this for her, not for you” I crowed, proud to fight for her future and mine.

• No violence, no roughness and no litter.

Even I got a megaphone!

Even I got a megaphone!

The People’s Mandate

classes (2)

It’s clear, the people’s mandate has been declared. Our current government no longer represents the will of the people.

• They have taken our interests and sold them to the highest corporate bidder.

• They have traded basic human ethics to pander to a xenophobic elite, who control the minds of the masses through a media monopoly.

• They have traded our future prosperity, the very habitability of our planet, for today’s profits margin.

Tony Abbott, Rupert Murdoch, Gina Reinhart and the rest of the ruling oligarchy can squeeze workers, hurt our brothers and kill our world, ’til their dollar buys nothing but dust. Or they can end corporate welfare, divert resources and funds to a sustainable economy and ensure a high standard of life to anyone that falls within our care.

You have two years left Mr Abbott. Use the time to undo what you’ve done, or forever have the blood of generations on your hands. Face the crowds, thousands strong. No number of fluorescent vested foot soldiers will stop you from answering for your crimes.

These are your people, whether you like it or not.

These are your people, whether you like it or not.

What’s Next?

The thing is, we can’t just go back to sharing memes on facebook, we need more. We need to engage with our local political groups, protest, organize rallies, and stand up for what we believe in. Don’t let the opiates of a captalist society dull your edge. Don’t skip the protest because of a hangover. Party all night and rock up drunk if you have to.

Together we are strong. We will be told we are weak, by the media, and those who have chosen to believe it. But inaction and complicity puts as much guilt on us as it does on those in power.

Engage with March in March organisers here.

Get the facts on whistleblowers, information and data exploitation and the TPP. – The free world as we know it is under threat.

Read the litany of Tony Abbott’s crimes here. – Be sure to have a stiff drink on hand.

Find your local representative here. – Write, call, email. Tell them what matters to you.

Fight, protest, write, and volunteer. We can build a world of peace and prosperity, a world that lasts. A world that innovates, then shares the fruits of that to all.

It starts today. It starts with you.

UPDATE: Man apparently run down by police after refusing to move (screen cap of post about it for posterity). is reporting it as a collapse.  Will report further as facts emerge.



Victoria’s New Anti-Protest Laws are Unconstitutional and Reflect the Erosion of our Liberties.

The Victorian government has just passed a law that allows the issue of fines of up to $600 and jail time for up to two years, for anyone failing to move along if requested at a protest. This is purportedly to stop protests at the tunnel project, for the much maligned east/west tunnel.  However it has far reaching implications for our rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and the liberties they protect.

What it means

This means that police (foot soldiers of the executive) can end a protest arbitrarily.  While it is not presented as anti-protest law, protests can be disbanded if considered to have the potential of “Impeding lawful access to premises”, “causing others to have a reasonable fear of violence”, and “engaging in behaviour likely to cause damage to property”.  I’m sorry, is my democracy bothering you?

People can be excluded from areas, and be given permanent bans from areas as broad as the entire CBD.  If these exclusion orders are breached a protestor can face up to 2 years jail time simply for returning to the scene of the ‘crime’ to buy milk up to a year later.

Civil, peaceful protest is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is the way people can speak directly to their representatives, fellow people, and the media. It is empowering to the people, who are able to look left, and right and see fellow supporters of their cause. Rights to peaceful assembly form part of political speech, and by alienating and criminalising the behaviour the government alienates and criminalises its people.

move along sir

move along sir

This law is unconstitutional

This infringement on our core rights is a breach of the social contract, and the constitution. Freedom of speech is protected in Australia. It is not spelled out im the constitution, but has been implied into the constitution because of the representational nature of democracy. The high court declared that for a democracy to function, freedom of speech needs to be protected. While states have the ability to make their own laws, they cannot override the high court, or the constitution. The judiciaries very role is to protect the people from tyranny by the executive arms of government.

Protesting as freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech isn’t just about being able to like and share funny photos of Tony Abbott looking creepy, it’s about communicating a message about political action. For so many of us, who don’t control media outlets and don’t hold influential positions in the community, protest is the only channel, where small voices can join and be heard. The ruling elite are working tirelessly to strip our rights and liberties, and return the general populace to a docile working class. No longer do they represent the people, but corporate and elitist interests.

Protest is the ultimate form of political expression. Protest at the mercy of corporate footsoldiers is no protest at all.

These are the people that voted for the 'move along' laws.  Who's interests do you think they serve?

These are the people that voted for the ‘move along’ laws. Whose interests do you think they serve?

What can we do?

There are administrative and civil procedures that allow for the challenge of government rulings and actions.  But those channels are often out of the reach of regular folk.  Ironically enough up until now a law like this would be met with protest, however I doubt anyone wants to risk jailtime.  Then again, the anti-protest laws in Ukraine turned into a bloody, 10,000 strong march on the Capitol.  I would hope that the government is wise enough to understand that taking away the right to peaceful protest leaves only one other option.

And I’m not talking about Facebook statuses.

The Failings of MtGox are the Failings of Old Models of Finance.

The catastrophe at MtGox doesn’t come from a flaw in the bitcoin protocol.  It is a manifestation of the broken, old models of wealth management creeping into this new economy.  Lazy habits are emerging as people pass the responsibility of managing their wealth to third parties.

These are issues and flaws stemming from old ways of managing wealth, and the systems that ensnare it.  The very thing the protocol is built to overcome! Satoshi Nakamoto would be rolling in his (or her) grave (or hammock) if s/he saw the way we were callously centralising our funds, leaving ourselves vulnerable to another bad actor.

In fact the only difference between MtGox and traditional institutions like banks and investment vehicles is that it is not entrenched enough in the existing oligarchy to be bailed out at the expense of its citizens.



Firstly: the MtGox failure does not show that bitcoin is too risky, it merely affirms that trusting financial institutions to store wealth is too risky.

Secondly: the protocol was built to facilitate the normal person being able to manage their own wealth, without trusting anyone, not banks, not companies, no one.

Every consumer has the power to manage their own locally hosted or offline wallet.  While this requires the tiniest amount of technical skill, it is the price paid for empowerment.

Exchanges have a place in this market, but by putting all our eggs in one basket, and being complacent with the standards we hold them too, we leave ourselves open to the same risks we aim to escape.

fucked upWhere did the MtGox issues stem from?

Government intervention: Money controls imposed on MtGox by the US government were the first issue.  The government used its control of fiat to quell something that was a risk to their current monopoly on wealth.

Look at the capital controls they imposed on Wikileaks for examples of the risks of operating in a fiat based economy when you aren’t towing the line.

Greed and incompetence: MtGox were accused of offering trading capacity not reflective of its reserves.  Whatever happened to the lost coins (from frapucino stains to federal pressure), Gox should not have continued allowing orders to be made that couldn’t be filled.

We trusted them this is where people fucked up. You may as well keep your money in Paypal, or phone credit, or worse, a bank.

Blockchain > Banks

Banks take your money and spend it, invest it, manipulate it and control it.  What got lost during all the noise of the 500 million lost at MtGox was the 5.3 billion lost at The Reserve Bank of Scotland through poor financial management the very same week.

The only difference is that the central banking authority has got the art of media manipulation and population control down to a T.  

Consider the bailouts, golden parachutes and general nothingness that emerged from the global financial crisis.  Think of the devastation to our global economy that ensued thanks to the banking cartels manipulation of our wealth.

Very few bankers went to jail for the criminal negligence that lead to the loss of so many retirement funds and nest eggs.


But they keep my money safe!

While they charge you to make money off your money, they have no regard for your property rights; they limit how much you can access, how often and why.

You know that security you feel when you see their fortress like walls and business suits?  That will dissolve if the powers that be decide it is time to exercise their control over the monetary supply to maintain their political control.  The walls become the bastions and ramparts keeping you from your money and those suits become the uniform of the ruling elite.

Consider the current withdrawal limits being rolled out right now in Ukraine, where all users are limited to $100 a day, and certain banking customers can’t withdraw at all, with those limitations clearly linked to certain ethnic groups.

How much are you allowed to withdraw at your bank?  Have you ever considered that it wasn’t just for your protection?

So to say MtGox’s failure is a breakdown of bitcoin is foolish.  It is just another example of how centralised institutions can and will fail us.

Is there a solution to the problems like MtGox?

Yes… It’s bitcoin!

When Satoshi Nakamoto and the community of core developers built the original client, and the principles that found the network, they built something amazing.

  • It allows you to generate systems to manage your wealth with no exposure to a centralised party.
  • A decentralised network means no points of failure.
  • After the release of the original algorithms no changes can be made without majority adoption by the whole network.  This is the closest thing to true democracy we’ve seen in a while.
  • You can manage a client on your own computer that generates wallets and passwords, then take the measures to secure them.

These systems are within your grasp.  In fact if you know how to manage a few passwords you can probably do a much better job managing your wealth than Karpeles did.


Bitcoin didn’t fail, people failed, by allowing bank-like institutions to take control of their wealth, for convenience, for greed, who knows?

If you create an offline paper wallet properly, no one can touch your money, no one.  Not dopes like Karpeles, not banks, no one.

I’m not saying all groups are bad actors, exchanges like Kraken, Vault of Satoshi, CoinJar and Bitstamp all act with transparency and honesty.  But the power of bitcoin means you don’t have to rely on these parties or trust them with your life savings.  Just use them as part of your wealth management system.

The monopoly on the power to transmit value is over. The power structures that depend on the manipulation and control of money are dissolving.  The same thing happened to the monopolies on knowledge and communication, which dissolved with the internet, empowering you, the reader.  That power is being handed to you again today.  Stop handing that power back, educate yourself about the function and potential of the protocol, or continue to be manipulated and exploited by the old models.


Buy bitcoin, hold your spendings in a hot wallet, your savings in a cold wallet, back up your keys properly and trust no one.

Fail to do any of the above steps and at some stage someone will be able to tamper with your wealth.

If it’s too hard then learn.

If you don’t, then don’t complain.


Swordfish potatoe – or how I learnt to stop worrying and code HTML

Call me djonn dravolta cause I just coded up my first swordfish. You see the purpose of this little blog is mainly to learn basic HTML coding.

I’m so sick of devs telling me ‘oh no sas you can’t put so many animated kitty gifs on the front page. Everyone knows the best website is blank and smells of citrus’.

So if I learn to code I can at least make proof of concepts to show how all the gifs move at different times and it creates a ripple effect to match my auto playing song and flashing title. (I want my website to have a Las Vegas feel)

(I hand coded this photo in but don’t know how to add comments or make it spin and bounce around while playing midi files. I’m not up to that bit yet).

I will write about this as well as whatever I feel like, and also test out my new learnings. My main goal is one of those swanky high res banner images on the top with some sleek Helvetica title inset.

I’m using code academy which is pretty great. My first chunk was just basic tags and creating a readable HTML document, how to use header, image and linking tags all the basics.

What’s cool is that after 5 years of law and contracts I find similarities in the logic of code and legal stuff. The unfolding sections and sub sections really act a lot like a piece of legislation, but instead of going to jail you can make a potato link to Tim heideker.

I still haven’t got to the bit where I get under the hood of this wordpress and hack everything into comic sans, but it was pretty exciting turning all those little brackets into potatoes.

Watch this space as I turn a well designed minimalist wordpress into a hodgepodge of illogical code, non device responsive, inappropriate garbage.

I will now turn this line into a ‘website hyperlink’ to my favourite website using the magic of code.

1 potatoe

Undercover Subversive Corporate Slave Dog.

First published in The Bird Street Press November ’13.

I wear a shirt. I work in a building. I’ve spent years sitting at a computer, looking at it, typing, talking, and generally making money at a higher margin than I am paid, which funnels into some ones profit and loss report, which files into a bigger report, which eventually becomes a new set of caps on some rich guys stupid teeth.

And don’t think I don’t I see you cool guys on the train snickering over your… art portfolios and cowboy hats. I get it, “hey suit-dick, why waste your life farting into a chair?” Why? Cause I’m no frickin’ good at anything.

I can’t draw, I’m a mediocre musician, I’m only funny when I’m mad and the one time I attempted stand-up comedy was probably one of the most bleak stretches of introspection the Townsville Comedy Club had ever experienced.

But I’ve got a plan.

You see I’m working them from the inside. My life is the ultimate sacrifice to art; I’m a parody of a man, a slipshod, makeshift marionette of corporate culture, jerkily dancing to the tune of the free market, laughing at terrible jokes from middle-management, looking serious and taking notes when people say stuff to me.

I’m not even listening when I take those notes. I’m often just writing words down rhythmically, that I look at later and think to myself… what… uplift? Extension… overlap?

Ok… I hear you say… “nice plan Goudie… but it doesn’t really make sense… that doesn’t sound much like a plan… more like a blend of schizophrenia and ADD”..
But you see I’ve taken subversive irony to the ultimate logical conclusion.

I’m ironically wearing a suit, I’ll ironically buy a house in the suburbs, get an ironic short back and sides haircut and sit on my ironic lawn chair drinking ironically light beer and raise an ironic toast to the ultimate act of countercultural subversion.

The boy born on a hippy commune, raised by a flutist, shredding guitar licks, vomiting blood and getting banned from venues will die respected by his pastor, with fat happy grandkids sobbing over my moderately priced coffin, and my tombstone will read.. “get it?” (on the bottom, facing lava).

So next time you sneer at some drone in a suit and tie, remember they may have dedicated their life to a parody of conformity, and they are actually so punk rock you can’t even tell.

Probably not though.

The Appropriation Of Counter Culture

First published in The Bird Street Press August ’13.

Beware misfits shirts and Che Guevara anything. For decades the counter culture has churned out symbols of its ideals and ideologies and mainstream media has either trivialised or appropriated it to sell coca cola and sunglasses.

While this can seem harmless in some respects it’s also a very sneaky tactic for the money men to dilute the message behind a culture. Look at the hippies. They weren’t just fucking in the mud, they were making a statement about the potential to be ‘apart’ from an inherently broken system of war and money.

But their symbols were mocked in mainstream media as actors donned long hair and threw peace signs around, and the money men were able to put words in the mouth of the movement. So be wary of labels, fashions and symbols that can be plastered on t shirts or slapped on pop stars. Or you might end up as the poster child for the very thing you detest.

Or BECOME a pop star and let Pepsi pay the bills.