smári mccarthy

smari mccarthy

[sarajevo iceland]

intro’d to Smári via this talk with Eleanor Saitta:

2013 – Eleanor Saitta & Smári McCarthy: Long Live the Protocoletariat! (29c3)






2 min – we’re living in dangerous moment.. existing structures we’ve been depending on… are failing at an increasing rate.. we don’t want to live in a future where all infra is broken… we need a diff way of organizing.. a diff structure

3 min – liquid democracy (delegated voting system.. instead of in rep.. everyone votes on every issue… you can delegate someone if you want – pirates using it) – few trade offs – one required – all votes have to be public.. doesn’t allow minorities to express opinions..

why voting ness..? to magnets and puck …why puck..?

[what if our thinking about consensus is what’s getting in the way. i’m seeing Louis‘s magnets pulling the puck. ie: why is there a puck. we have the means now – so why don’t we use tech to coordinate/regroup/re self organize us.. rather than keep on forcing us to consensus..]

5 min – reason for public votes… in electronic voting system… no other way to verify.. so looking for system that supports unlinkability or that doesn’t allow for corruption.. so death to minority or corruption to majority.. unlinkability or verfiability.. that’s where we are now

w anonymity .. can’t tell if voted only once.. or that the vote was even counted..

6 min – there might be a solution –

9 min – liq demo a system that favors people who can show up and write well

we confuse written fluency with having new/good ideas…

turns out there’s very little relationship no relation between the two… when you have a system .. ok you show up and write something and can you persuade people… doesn’t turn out to be that good for the people you are persuading..

10 min – generally try to solve process problem.. w/o understanding process… ie: if someone could figure out how democracy could work.. then add people and it breaks down…. ie: meetings goes by robert rules.. but i haven’t seen any that really understand robert’s rules… if we manage to capture these processes as they are in the software.. going in right direction

11 min – politics is not about getting people together to identify/debate problems.. it’s about getting people to make decisions.. most of software so far .. doesn’t capture decisions.. and how carried forward into future..

puck and magnets.. decisions ok.. but no need to all use same puck

decision making ness

12 min – geeks love math problems.. this is not where we need to be going.. don’t confuse human problems with math problems

14 min – need to look at principals… start from -0 and work on world we want to live.. let’s not start with what we have today..

ie: leap frog – to a nother wayfor (blank)’s sake

15 min – we have agency… we get to actually go out there and do things/change things.. we don’t have to wait for permission from existing structures in order to act..

21 min – on watching the wire – because it’s basically about agency.. what you can do… on a daily basis.. how to figure out what you can do and do it..  you all do this.. but somehow we haven’t captured any method for tweaking/expanding agency yet..

22 min – protocolization – every machine is a language… figure out what language they’re speaking and replace w/p2p

or make them irrelevant… no?

23 min – thing with protocolization – moves us from explicit to implicit control structures.. but it misses institutional memory.. continuity of actors involved… ie: how do we keep things moving.. ie: vaccinations.. people w/o that history are deciding against them..

perhaps we need to move in a diff way.. one that depends more on uncertainty of actors.. ie: antifragile et al

perhaps then … less disease in first place..?

28 min – on tax office as example.. if don’t have some reflective.. memory function.. you break large chunks of things…

how does democracy decide to not do something,… ie: anonymous deciding not to kill someone.. if any one person can pull trigger.. how do they all collectively decide not to do this… you need a function/institution that says.. hey guys.. remember we weren’t going to do this.. institution is just something that reminds people… what if we get rid of all process and focus on long term memory

indeed.. how about.. self-talk as data – where each alive person reminds themself daily.. and.. not even bent toward ie: killing.. because has something else to do

31 min – on enforcement mech’s..

do we need those..?

mapping complexity – tax office, school, health, insurance, bank, …

what if all of these are irrelevant when people truly have agency.. everyday. as the day.

33 min – how to build a taxation system.. to get us all to participate..


34 min – until we get institutions to understand what networks are saying.. we need to figure out that translation… how do we enforce/not enforce laws in network environment… or do we figure out how to do things if people violate our protocols and our social contracts..

perhaps.. what if our thinking about security, voting, measuring exchanges, contracts, property…is what’s getting in the way. what if they are (could/should be) irrelevant (gupta roadblock law). we have the means now – so why don’t we use tech to coordinate/regroup/re self organize us.. rather than making b more efficient…

ie: ps in the open ness

we don’t have the time/luxury of solving philosophical problems… if they don’t relate to the real world..

exactly – and.. we’re not living in the real world right now.. it is so manufactured.. perpetuate\ing not us ness

36 min – on people not wanting us to win.. if we don’t figure things out soon

major figuring.. is how to make it be about all of us.. no winning.. or all winning..

on occupy and general assembly not (our goal).. but we can learn something from them..

43 min – best way … traditional answer.. revolution and purge anyone w/ money.. maybe instead.. built alt structures…infect years.. infect world.. then in 10-20 yrs everyone says.. we still have nation states.. that’s so cute.

45 min – on bucky – build something else..

46 min – individual actors have memories.. not same as institution as whole having memory – ie: culture indoctrination processes.. we need to impart the institutional memory to you… ie: internal knowledge base…  so you don’t lose any tacit knowledge… where node in network.. quits and no exchange…


if it becomes an institution it loses everything that’s good about it in a network..

47 min – the thing that makes things an institution is its tacicity.. ability to maintain tacit knowledge..


48 min – how to org files… basically individual should hold all that on own.. so how to do that is an unsolved problem.. virtual file cabinet on back.. would love to have answer to that..

self-talk as data … output ness…  – much diff data than we’re dealing w/now

50 min – liquid demo is good.. but how to figure out unlinkability… also need to map out what to do together…

rev of everyday life.. short of a nother way –  of self-organizing ness..

52 min – politics is war by other means.. a system like this is designed to ensure no one wins.. and keep fighting low enough to get something done.. let’s now encourage fighting.. rather cooperation..

gershenfeld something else law (see Smári into fab labs – in iceland)

54 min – ideas of endless competition – not true.. societies are massive collabs..

55 min – q: all this is based on trust..  a: crypto is managing trust to a degree.. trust is one of our shortcoming to date… we’re good at understanding trust when close enough to see.. and under 200ish people… but not hooked up to anything..

trust.. never tried as 100% – perhaps only way it works

1:02 – somebody invented ballot box et al – we forgot that someone had to sharpen the first stick.. we don’t realize that’s not built into human nature.. quinn


crowdsourcing the constitution – 2014

smaller forms of govt..  more self determination for small groups/individs

good things in constitution (that was rejected) – right to access info, and 3 mechs to initiate referendum

always room for bad .. but if process built in good enough way worry less about that… when trying to get population to show up.. providing something of value to them is #1 – something practical


what is liquid democracy – 2013









last couple of years thinking about methods to increase the ability for groups to make decisions.. rep democracy is way we make most decisions.. but leaves most people disatisfied… direct democracy is other side.. too slow… ie: everybody making every decison..

2 formal ways to make decisions 1\ democratic – vote on things 2\ monetary – symbol value.. money and votes …two sides of same coin…

when talk about money talk about poverty… as inability to make personal decisions.. individual choice/will… limits ability to buy nice things…

poverty in democratic terms limits our ability to live in nice societies..

w/ money continue to increase our liquidity.. so why not increase democratic liquidity as well… ie: now.. one vote every four years… return on investment going to be neg

we can do a lot better than this.. ways to allow everyone participate… put trust in friends/fam – direct delegation.. you can vote/abstain/delegate… but still problem that traditional poverty poll has strangle on society..

couple things 1\ get in there (into providence/govt) to shift away from poverty poll model  2\ start using liquid democracy systems… replace norms of decision making.. at some point org society w/o deference to authority other than authority each of us have

diff ways to implement… ie: germay – feedback, opocracy, … all differ in approach.. but by and large.. some kind of web site with free market ideas.. where anyone can suggest.. details come further down line how to translate.. to each other… into something everyone can accept as decision..

aren’t many of these decisions irrelevant.. or not puck driven..? (meaning.. need one answer… can’t we rather move us around)

talking about legislative authority – decision making – not the observation/orientation/acting

for online activities.. already liq demo.. but for formal.. not so much ie: tax, building roads/overpass, …. physical reality still deferred to parliaments..

Lous and unu – might be what you see..? no? but i think that is even not us.. ie: anything that begs motivation… seems suspect .. to not us ness

perhaps .. collab budgeting like in brazil… or collective decision making… first question of getting govts to let go of decision making authority

or..perhaps.. rev in reverse..

if system done correctly .. should be scale free… should be same.. to scale entire planet..

indeed.. as – should me motivation/reward/push free

a nother way

for (blank)’s sake

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.


find/follow Smári:

link twitter

Chief technologist ; Chairman at . Also do:


wikipedia small

Smári McCarthy (born 7 February 1984) is an Icelandic/Irish innovator and information activist. He is known for his work relating to direct democracy, transparency, privacy, and other subjects.

Smári was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, the son of Kolbrún Óskarsdóttir and Eugene McCarthy. At age one his family moved to England. At age 9, the family returned to Iceland, settling in Vestmannaeyjar, a town and archipelago off the south coast. He studied mathematics at the University of Iceland, but quit after two years to get involved with the digital fabrication movement.

Smári got involved in the digital fabrication movement in 2007, and was involved in the creation of the first Icelandic fab lab in Vestmannaeyjar. He has worked with Fab Labs elsewhere, including Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The same year, Smári proposed the Shadow Parliament Project, a project intending to “crowdsource democracy“. In an essay outlining the project, he described what is now known as Liquid Democracy. The project launched Skuggaþing (Icelandic for “shadow parliament”) in early 2010. In 2012 he started the wasa2il software project in order to address shortcomings with existing implementations of Liquid Democracy.

In 2008 he co-founded of the Icelandic Digital Freedom Society (FSFÍ), a free software, privacy and digital rights organization in Iceland.

In 2009 he organized the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative along with various other media freedom and free speech activists, including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Julian Assange and Rop Gonggrijp. In 2011 the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI) was formed around the initiative, with Smári serving as executive director. In 2013 he left that role, but still serves as a board member of IMMI.

In 2012, he co-founded the Icelandic Pirate Party, along with Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, and various others. He stood as their lead candidate in Iceland’s South Constituency in the 2013 parliamentary elections, but did not win a seat.

In the summer of 2013, Smári co-founded the free software project Mailpile along with Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson and Brennan Novak. The team successfullycrowdfunded $163,192. Smári’s role in the company is privacy and security.

In 2014, Smári joined the editorial board of Scottish pro-independence newspaper Bella Caledonia.

Smári has spoken at numerous conferences, .. Common themes include direct or electronic democracy, press freedoms, a critique of industrialization as a centralizing force, and the culture of the Internet. More recently he has spoken about privacy in the context of state surveillance.

In 2012, WikiLeaks has alleged that Smári was approached by agents of the FBI in Washington, D.C..

Smári has made appearances in We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, SVT’s documentary Wikirebels and VPRO’s de Wikileaks Code, as well as numerous television interviews.


then Smári‘s – 4 tweets prior to catching awenneov’s – and writing about them on entropy page (and very curiously wondering about what we call junk dna, junk writing, idiosyncratic jargon… when perhaps.. it’s what we need to be listening to.. in order to protect/emerge us..)

Smári McCarthy (@smarimc) tweeted at 5:46 AM on Mon, Mar 14, 2016:
I’m fascinated by the way people work with text. Lots of people apply neither rhyme nor reason. Random blocks of text, zero structure, …


2013 – futurefest

Smari McCarthy and Francesca Bria describe their info-constitution





linking decision making w economic power tools..esp focusing on decentralized social networks.. how to break that monopoly out

4 min – smari – basically running people toward some place where we need something diff.. no one’s come up with a good plan yet..

a nother way.. hosting life bits.. et al

9 min – francesca – question.. a lot of refusal of current institution.. a big no to what we have now.. hardt/negri – a distituent power… how do we enable collective actors to gain power… and what would be the form.. how to create institutions for future and by what process… already have experiments of radical democracy.. but they’re temp.. so how to empower them..

11 min – smari – we should be talking about the protocoletariet… 13 min – there’s not a lot people can do..

13 min – francesca – zeitgeist of digital age is missing..

14 min – smari – a lot of people really want to do something.. but unless 10 000 people on the street outside.. they feel very dis empowered…

14 min – francesca – there is that break down.. so you have to come up with a plan

15 min – smari – 1\ people need to know what’s going on in society 2\ need to give people a say.. if no info.. will make even worse decisions than parliament

or perhaps.. we start over.. perhaps we’re so messed up.. most of the info we would garner is just noise.

imagine we have a global do over.. that is designed for everyone to ongoingly .. listen to their heart..

we can’t make better future till we can imagine it

16 min – francesca – i don’t like that you ask to come up w solutions.. will be wrong.. i’d rather open up experiments…

17 min – smari – long term vision.. currently very centralized… why do we have to have these fixed numbers (of people in power).. today.. everyone has a communication device in pocket.. why not build scale free alt’s.. so everyone can participate.. w/o punishment for not participating..

redefine decision making – disengage from consensus.. et al.. we can now do that..

19 min – don’t ask us what to do.. just do what you feel… keep working.. fix things.. get more empowered…


Smári McCarthy (@smarimc) tweeted at 6:52 AM – 28 Dec 2017 :

In a speech at the Icelandic parliament just now, I pointed out that Donald Trump, in a puerile tantrum, decided to defund the UN by 258 million dollars a year. @PiratePartyIS has put forward a proposal that Iceland pick up a fair share of the shortfall, as a show of solidarity. (


on Halldóra:

Smári McCarthy (@smarimc) tweeted at 8:01 AM – 9 Jan 2018 :

My colleague @Halldoramog on UBI and systemic change: “When you’re living in a scarcity mindframe, then you don’t have the same capacity for compassion” ─ right on. (

she believes the status quo needs a complete overhaul, and one of the central elements of that goal is universal basic income, or UBI

ubi as temp placebo.. if we want a true do over

the underlying principles behind UBI mean changing everything about the way we do economics.

ie: san money.. measuring..

“I was always really interested in finding a way to change the *incentives in society, because **I’m a big believer that most of the stuff we do stems from human behaviour but not necessarily human nature,” she says. ***“I don’t think that it’s in our ‘nature’ to be the way that we are. t.. I think it has more to do with behaviour that is learned and incentivised in our systems, due to the ideology that drives our society. I’ve always had this view that human beings could be doing much more amazing things than we’re doing right now. So I did a lot of reading into the ideologies behind our systems.”

*if we’re needing incentives.. red flag we’re doing it wrong

**science of people.. need to get back to us – human nature

***wilde not us law

There are two running themes that persist when Halldóra talks about UBI: freedom and compassion. She questions how free we actually are in a capitalist society.. t

krishnamurti free will law

“You can’t really talk about freedom when people are making desperate decisions just to survive,” she says. “That’s not freedom, and you’re not making a free choice when it’s a question of surviving. So I asked myself, how do you give people that freedom?”..t

imagine a turtle.. let’s try detox via 2 convos.. as the day..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

“When you’re living in a scarcity mindframe, then you don’t have the same capacity for compassion,” she says. “I think that’s another part of what’s causing all these problems in society; the hatred, the anger. I think a lot of that stems from scarcity.

perhaps even more stems from a loss of maté basic needs..

“We judge someone based on how someone chooses to spend their time,” she says. “If someone wants to spend their days playing video games, who am I to judge that that’s a bad use of their time? Why does society decide what work is? Why do I get paid to watch someone else’s kid, but I don’t get paid to watch my own kid? I think it’s really strange how we define this stuff.

spaces of permission w nothing to prove.. rather.. save us all energy.. and assume good

Halldóra doesn’t pretend to have UBI completely mapped out. She does, however, believe it is essential for our survival to at least experiment with the idea. At the same time, she does not believe that you can simply inject UBI into a capitalist system and solve all of society’s ills. Rather, the entire system needs to be upended, if only in steps…We need to rethink the whole thing.”.. t

indeed.. a nother way .. deep/simple/open enough..

A major part of this is education. She believes children need to be taught from an early age to have a say in their environment, so that they will grow into people who will see themselves as stake-holders in their communities.

so .. in the city.. as the day.. for all of us.. let’s redefine Ed that way

It’s ridiculous that we even have poverty in this country. Poverty is obviously built into the system, so we just need to change the system.