Initial Capstone Proposal

<aside> 💡 The following is the initial proposal outline for the thesis I will produce in the coming months. The final project and thesis paper will be based on this premise. The paper was written according to a class assignment and goes deeper into my academic and technical backgrounds.


Capstone Proposal | May 2, 2022

I. Overview

The Sacred Wisdom project contains three core premises that I will explore and work towards the implementation of during my capstone project. The first premise is protecting wisdom tradition translations and teachings from the threat of market enclosures, commodification, disinformation and authoritarian political structures through decentralization of information. The second premise explores archiving wisdom tradition teachings so future generations can access the knowledge with no centralized gatekeepers or market forces controlling access. And lastly, I will explore supporting scholars and source communities through the creation of decentralized organizational structures that provide the technical and autonomous mechanisms to build and support communities through virtual gathering places and alternative economic modalities without middle men or gatekeepers in a global container accessible to all and built under the premise of the Gift Economy.

II. The Question

How can decentralized blockchain technology be utilized to protect, archive and support the translations and teachings from wisdom traditions so current and future generations can freely access this knowledge as a public good, while also providing support for scholars and source communities through the monetary and governance mechanisms inherent in blockchain technology?

III. Project Title

Protecting, Archiving, and Supporting Wisdom Traditions through Decentralization

IV. Why It Matters to Me

As a voracious consumer of information and seeker of knowledge, I strongly believe that the vital information of our ancient wisdom traditions should be protected and archived in a manner that allows free access to information for current and future generations. As a former journalist, I believe free access to information is vital to the health of our society and those of us with the technical skills and vision should deploy such insights to ensure that information is protected from the threat of authoritarian regimes and rogue political actors seeking to homogenize the public's spiritual beliefs into a radical and homogeneous religious container. As we witnessed during the Trump administration, this demographic of political actors are also threatened by information that encourages compassion, collective action and lifestyles that reject the core tenants of consumption-based corporate capitalism.

I had the great fortune to acquire much of my blockchain education from a small hacker community who freely shared their technical wisdom with me through the ethos of the Gift Economy. Most hackers philosophically believe in creating technology for the greater good, that their creations should never enter the marketplace, and they view centralization as a fundamental threat to the evolution of technology and society at large. That belief is also a foundational premise of the current blockchain technology movement and I believe strongly in embracing their approach and applying it to the academic community in a way that supports scholarship and protects vital wisdom from market enclosure and political forces.

My heart breaks to see so many of my friends, who are professors at universities around the country, struggling to pay their bills and fighting for the resources to pursue their scholarship because their institutions funnel money to aspects of athletics and commercially funded scientific work.

My social location at this moment provides the perfect container for my capstone project. As an undergraduate student at Naropa, I am surrounded by scholars working to share the knowledge of wisdom traditions. I understand that I am an outsider to these traditions and working closely with scholars to ensure the archival process is free from appropriation will be a huge aspect of the information gathering process.

The Boulder and surrounding areas are also home to some of the leading minds in blockchain technology development, with vibrant community Meetups and initiatives coming from scholars at the University of Colorado Boulder's Media Lab and active developers in the Ethereum ecosystem. I am also an active member in virtual communities who are experimenting with decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) around both spirituality and the preservation of media. I am a founding member of JournoDAO, a governing member of Unlock DAO and a former contributor to several impact DAOs, such as WGMI and All for Climate.

The transformation I have experienced through yogic studies this year at Naropa has made a profound impact on how I live my life. My initial intention in studying yoga was to cultivate a deeper physical practice, but through the exposure to the ancient wisdom of Tantric yoga from my professors, I have discovered a powerful connection to my own spiritual journey that has very little to do with the physical practice of yoga. During this time, I have also had the amazing privilege to study under professors who have dedicated their lives to understanding and sharing the knowledge from a multitude of wisdom traditions. While meditating after a sacred ceremony in one class, I realized that this wisdom needs to be archived in a way that protects the information and serves the source communities and scholars doing the difficult work of translating and sharing this wisdom. My logical conclusion was to explore the opportunities of archival methods utilizing the decentralized and immutable technology that is found within blockchain's infrastructure.

During my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I had the great fortune to travel to Dharmsala on a fellowship to conduct a research project visually documenting the Tibetan Exile Community's cultural preservation efforts and explore the various aspects of the Tibetan Government in Exile's social infrastructure created in India. I remember standing in one of the gorgeous libraries that housed the many books and works of art that were saved from the Chinese invasion and destruction of Tibet. My heart broke for all that was lost at the hands of such violent political action.

At the time of my research in Dharmsala, blockchain technology did not exist. I now see how this emerging technology could provide a layer of insulation against future authoritarian regimes bent on the destruction of cultures and religions that do not adhere to their dogmas or political agendas. While nothing will ever replace the feel and power of an ancient book whose pages were lovingly filled with timeless wisdom, a digital archive of the valuable information and modern translations can provide tremendous value to future generations who may have to navigate the specter of power consolidation and enclosure of information in ways we can not predict at this moment.

V. Intention