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[liberationtech] Medill online Digital Safety Guide

Sean Alexandre sean at
Sun Jun 2 15:19:03 PDT 2013

At risk for stating the obvious (and getting in the middle of what may be a turf war
of sorts), I'd add like to add to this conversation.

There are two positions: (1) give journalists (and activists) what's possible today, 
even though it's not ideal, and (2) create the ideal and give them that instead.

Both sides make very strong arguments for both positions: 

Rich for position (2):

Eleanor for position (1):

Nadim for position (1):

Both positions seek to solve the same problem, and I would say both are right.

There's the here and now, and what can be done today (1). And, there's the future and 
what could ideally be done then (2).

The differences between the two positions shouldn't prevent both sides from doing all 
they can to advance what they feel strongly about. Both sides accomplish great things
and advance the overall objective of making journalists, and activists, more effective.

I see the situation like this. Today, a journalist has the effectiveness of, let's
say, "one unit." Anything the libtech community can do to improve that effectiveness
is great. Maybe today it's only "one unit x10". But maybe tomorrow it's "one unit x100"
and then the next day "one unit x1000". 

There will be no "one unit times infinity", unfortunately. There were always be new 
0days, new methods of social engineering, new Blue Coats, more "Patriot" Acts, and 
more Constitution busting Attorney Generáles and Presidéntes.

All we can do is improve the chances of those that need protection, and make them more 

So while the debate is spirited, and very interesting (thanks!!), I hope at the end
of the day that everyone finds ways to complement each others work.

Those on the ground working with journalists and activists now, are probably going
to be more focused on (1) while those more removed and probably going to be more focused 
on (2). Great! Both are desperately needed!!

Again, maybe this is the obvious, but it seemed like it needed to be said.

The more interesting question might be how to convey to users on the ground now what 
their threat models are and how they can improve their chances -- to add to the 
motivation they feel to move from (1) to (2) as quickly as possible. Too much 
information becomes overwhelming, but the right balance presented in the right way
becomes empowering. It seems there's no simple answer, and that the answer varys
from user to user depending on the time they have, abilities, interests, etc. 

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