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[liberationtech] The missing component: Mobile to Web interoperability (in Internet Freedom Technologies)

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at
Sun Sep 22 12:51:40 PDT 2013

On 09/17/2013 04:46 PM, Michael Rogers wrote:

>> Please push me back on the right track if I have a blind spot
>> here-- I'm having a difficult time seeing a technical difference
>> between a social network that allows partial views of the graph in
>> order to maintain a semblance of privacy, and a system of
>> distributing digital copies of music that tries to limit the number
>> of times a file may be copied.
> The difference is goodwill. It may be reasonable to give a piece of
> information (such as a list of your friends) to each of your friends,
> and ask them not to share it any further.

I'm very skeptical of "goodwill" being the killer feature that ends
up impeding the global distribution of private data through the

Goodwill is a pre-internet concept that is predicated on things like
short human memories, and it wholesale ignores all the moral
hazards that come from being able to install a splitter on a single
line and copying all data everywhere, private or not, for nearly nothing.
Not to mention store it forever.  Not to mention retrieve it for
next to nothing...

So if you want to bring "goodwill" into the post-Snowden leak era,
you have to explain how the users of your system are able to
reasonably ignore those threats, which didn't exist when the
term was coined and now do.  I don't think that's possible.

The current centralized approach seems to be to keep ignoring
the risks, but do so unreasonably.  The federated
approach seems to be to take these threats that did not previously
exist (or if they did only for extreme cases), and decrease the risk
by dividing by something slightly greater than one.

Unfortunately the p2p model seems to be to make a prototype, or
even a working system, and stop at the point where it's minimally
functional, usually because funds are scarce.  That's unfortunate,
because for anything like an updated concept of goodwill to really
function in such a system the user _must_ know what the current
threats are and a way to accurately glean the mid-term and maybe
long-term threats.

Otherwise you create a social network that looks like it has checks
and balances built-in, but, e.g, no one really understands _why_ sharing
beyond the first node is a danger and no one cares about honoring
the premise (including the friend sharing the list in the first place).
Nearly every social network UX is designed to hide such risks, and
I don't see any examples of an alternative.  Does yours offer one?


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