Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
User Journal

Journal: Privacy and Secrecy 9

Journal by ShieldW0lf

These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.

This concerns me greatly.

I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.

I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.

But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.

First, a couple of illustrations:

When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.

When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.

So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?

The lack of a requirement to interact.

It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.

At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.

I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.

So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.

Let's examine something a little more pervasive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.

These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.

But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.

Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?

The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.

So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:

The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.

Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.

There is a lesson here for us.

We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.

The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.

The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.

Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.

In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.

I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.

This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.

But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.

It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.

However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.

Thank you for reading.

User Journal

Journal: Mobile Slashdot is annoying

Journal by symbolset

Yeah, I get it - you have to serve mobile kids too. I don't like that interface. Have been using classic on Android since I got it. I browse logged in. There should be configuration preference for "never show me the mobile site again".

User Journal

Journal: A new democratic model 4

Journal by ShieldW0lf

This is a work in progress, which I will continue to expand upon. I feel it is important to share it in it's unfinished, because I am frequently misunderstood when I attempt to communicate my ideas in conversation, and am attacked by people based on a false understanding of what I propose. This is intended to be a tool which I deliver as a gift to mankind, to use or ignore as they see fit, and not something I impose upon anyone.

The Principles:

Any person who wishes to participate in the running of society has the right to do so. They operate in the fashion that suits them best in each sector, and they do as they will with their spare time. They have the right to vote in the operation of the society they participate in and have their vote counted.

Some people cannot choose to actively participate in society. Children who are too immature to be safe, invalids who are unable because they are in too much pain, those too elderly to function properly.

People need to be involved to have the right to make decisions. If they are not involved, their vote should not count. To allow their vote to count is to those who are ignorant to rule. When one man knows, and another does not, the second should bow his head, and the first should take responsibility.

However, people who are not involved should still have the right to cast votes, propose changes to the system and express themselves just as any other. Wisdom can come from those who are young, elderly and infirm, and it is important that we respect that fact. We can all remember bearing witness to hidebound foolishness amongst our elders at some point in our youth, and those of us who are not yet elderly and infirm can rest assured that we most likely will be.

Those who are not involved and cast votes should not have their vote counted towards a decision, however, those who are involved are free to assign their vote to them, and those votes will count. Thus, a wise elder or visionary invalid who cannot participate through deeds may still be the voice of those who do participate through deeds, for as long as they believe his leadership is wise.

Children should be treated as a special case.

It is important that children continue to be born and that the system should treat them as future citizens of vital importance to us all and not the same as mature or invalid dependents who are cared for out of compassion.

Therefore, parents should be considered to have an additional vote that represents their child, for so long as they continue to nurture to them.

Children should still continue to be able to cast a vote for themselves when they are mature enough to understand what that means, participate in the process and develop their voice, and if mature adults choose to appoint a child as their representative, those votes should be assigned according to the choices of the child and not automatically be passed along to the childs parent.

All data and information should be available to everyone in principle, and it shall be an ongoing goal of society to see that all measures available to make it accessible in practice are implemented. Transparency of information shall never be compromised in support of other concerns, because it is essential to the sane and wise operation of a democratic society.

Where secrecy exists, the act of participating in democracy is itself insane and unwise. It is through exploitation of this truth that those with arcane knowledge make themselves parasites of the ignorant, leading to weakness and suffering of those kept ignorant, the inevitable execution of the parasitic ruler, and often the destruction of the entire human culture.

Preventing this situation from arising is the responsibility of all humanity.

The Tools:

The Watchers - A sensor network, intended to gather data and allow all people to be aware of the environment to the maximum practical degree

The Testaments - Personal mesh networked voting devices with record keeping and personal sensors, intended to allow a person to demonstrate their votes to their peers, review the ongoing operations of the culture and propose changes to the way things are run.

The Witnesses - Stationary mesh networked recording devices, intended to decentralize vote archives and create enough forensic evidence to make wide scale vote tampering impossible

The Web - Wired network, intended to act in a supporting role to the Watchers, Testaments and Witnesses where it is advantageous to use Artifacts of Mankind to analyze data and discover patterns.

The Transition:

This presupposes that the infrastructure for the new model for representative democracy has been designed and distributed and the vast majority agree in principle with its use.

I started writing this proposal with the idea of applying it strictly to legal systems, but realized that it really should govern all common systems, which would include all large scale infrastructure and commonly used systems for governing human affairs. This is a statement with far reaching implication and is going to have to be expanded upon significantly for it to make sense.

1) Cataloging:

We should create a catalogue of laws and systems, together with the justification for those laws and systems, an articulation of the sacrifice they represent, and an articulation of any conditions which would justify their being revoked.

The population should have x number of days to create a catalogue of the laws and systems which exist, together with the justification for those laws and systems continued existance.

2) Judgement:

The population should vote to determine if the closing period for contributions to the catalogue should be extended.

Any laws and systems which are not indexed after the closing period will be judged to be unsupported by anyone and therefore eliminated (there being no reason why they cannot be re-introduced at the end of the migration process)

The laws and systems should be indexed in terms of those which are justified by core values and those which are justified because of how they affect other laws and systems, and a map created that articulates these justifications.

The laws and systems sould then be considered in terms of the relevance of their stated purpose, how well they fulfil their stated purpose, and a consideration of how and if the current conditions are right for them to exist. The population should vote to keep them or remove them on this basis.

At the conclusion of this process, there should be no laws and systems which do not have justification, common support, and some thought put to the time when they might cease to be sane and wise.

3) Ongoing Operation

Any person may:

    a) Propose a new law or system with novel justification

    b) Propose that a new contraindication be ratified for an existing system
                  When the conditions of our culture are x, this rule will cease to be wise.

    c) Propose that a new sacrifice be ratified for an existing system
                  This rule causes hardship in x way, and that hardship should be acknowledged.

    d) Propose that the conditions for revoking an existing system have been met
                  This contraindication was set down long ago when this rule was made, and I propose that it now applies

    e) Propose a new law or system to supersede an existing system by meeting it's justification with:

                - less sacrifice (demonstratable justification)
                          We can meet need x with this different system, and hardship x which the previous system demanded
                          would cease to be necessary
                - less contraindications (deductive justification)
                          Existing system x will become a poor and unwise tool when condition x occurs, and this new system will meet
                          the need without the risk of becoming defunct under condition x.
                - both

A system will have to be agreed upon to determine at what point a proposal must be put to a vote. Possibilities might be that a certain critical number of people must "second" the proposal, or perhaps a critical percentage of the population.

User Journal

Journal: Backblaze Box 3.0

Journal by symbolset

Apparently Backblaze has a third generation box out. Backblaze is a provider of online backup who has a fixed fee "all you can eat" price structure. Because of this they have to minimize the cost of providing their huge storage needs. They designed a 4U server to hold 45 drives some years ago and open sourced it. Netflix uses the design now for their CDN. Since then Backblaze has improved it some and it has been reported here.

Now there's a site where you can buy them for retail, and there's a new version out. If you want to put 180TB raw into 4U, there is no more efficient way to do it.

45drives.com

User Journal

Journal: It's about the people, stupid 1

Journal by symbolset

In Star Trek they have a great deal of amazing technologies. Warp drive, transporters, phasers, replicators, lots of cool stuff. Some of these things have been realized at least partially with technology. Tech people love Star Trek mostly, and adore the tech. Some think that this is what Star Trek is about. This technology stuff is what makes Star Trek science fiction. This is not what Star Trek â" nor any popular fiction â" is about.

The tech in Star Trek has almost never been the story, and certainly never in a good episode. The tech is a method where the storyteller sets his story in a place just different enough from the current day that the audience can view the story objectively rather than subjectively. It is a prop. With this diversion the moral play becomes not a threat to the viewer's established prejudices because it happened in a mythical place far away in space and time, opening the viewer to alter their prejudices and experience (pleasurable) personal growth. Every Star Trek show is a moral play showing conflicts arising between people, and how they resolved them. It is about educating people about conflict resolution and ethical behavior. This and only this is why we watch. Roddenberry was shameless in re-telling all of the basic stories of the past in his postmodern future â" even Aesop's fables and Shakespeare. It's about the people because how people engage with other people is what we, as humans, connect with on an emotional level. That is what makes it a good story.

In the technology world we focus on the widget. What its gigawhats and megathings are relative to the one that came before. How many FPS it gets on TradeBench. This is entirely the wrong approach. The technology world is not about gigawhats. It's about people. People who have wants and needs, aspirations and dreams. To a certain extent we acknowledge this in the marketing department where the people who sell the stuff we make live and bring the money that buys our sweet engineering gear. Marketing understands this is how you sell things: You associate the thing in the customer's mind with a greater affinity with his family, the public, the world â" you empower and enable him to do what he needs or wants to do, to be important, or at least convince him you will, and he gives you his money.

Somehow a one-way conceptual firewall has been built between engineering and marketing where this idea cannot pass back to the people who invent stuff. Engineering doesn't respect marketing, and is living in its own Star Trek world where they invent ever more widgets they think are really cool and then fling them through the Barrier to Marketing to make of them what they can.

If you start instead at âoewhat do people really want and needâ and build that you don't need marketing much at all. People will beat down your door to get it once they know you have it. Make it your engineering goal to understand what people want and need at a basic human level, and focus on inventing stuff around enabling and empowering them to have that.

So what do people want and need? After air, food and shelter they want to connect with their fellow humans, to share and partake of sharing of each others' lives. This is why Facebook and Twitter are so huge. They want to relax and enjoy life, and enjoy songs and stories â" so, Netflix and Pandora. They want fame and recognition, so: Facebook and Twitter. Notice Facebook doesn't have a âoedislikeâ button? Know why that is? Because the fear of negative feedback would ruin the sharing experience by including the risk of rejection. They want love without fear. Give them that and they are yours.

User Journal

Journal: +5 Troll 1

Journal by symbolset

Of all the achievements I've managed in my /. time, this one has escaped me: the moderation of +5 Troll. I believe this rare goal has been achieved, and would like a link to the incident.

User Journal

Journal: Shadowbanned? 6

Journal by symbolset

I'm starting to detect some deviation from the former regime. Posts are no longer as controversial. My comments are not moderated as frequently - or at all. The front page is not as timely. There's a chance my idle maunderings don't even appear to most folk. The 16 hour outage of Hotmail and such remain unreported here. Something is amiss.

It may be time to take my leave of /. It was a long wonderful run but when it's over, it's over.

User Journal

Journal: The Heymann Petition has met its quota

Journal by symbolset

The US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the professional prosecutor Steve Heymann both have petitions on the whitehouse "we the people" site calling for their termination in the wake of the Aaron Swartz scandal. The Ortiz petition was filled almost immediately, but the Heymann petition took longer. Today the Heymann petition is also filled.

The whitehouse has promised to give a response to petitions which meet these thresholds. Now we will find out what the response will be, and what the reaction to that response will be.

User Journal

Journal: Aaron Swartz: Steve Heymann needs to go too

Journal by symbolset

There are plenty of signatures on the Whitehouse petition to fire US Attorney Carmen Ortiz but she's just a politician. The frontline prosecutor who drove this case was Steve Heymann. He needs to go too, but his petition isn't trending to enough votes to get it done. We need to be rid of him too.

So do your part and do him in: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb

User Journal

Journal: Is it a decade already?

Journal by symbolset

Just got notified that it's been 10 years since I created this /. account. Had a prior account long since lost, and lurked for a while before that. But wow. 10 years. Nerd world has changed a lot in 10 years. Should do a retrospective.

User Journal

Journal: Her name is Carmen Ortiz 1

Journal by symbolset

The prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz to death, impoverishing his family and guaranteeing he would spend the rest of his natural days in federal prison because they had not enough to defend him properly: her name is Carmen Ortiz. She is the one who would do this to him - not for killing somebody, or stealing something, but for accessing information he was entitled to access manually in an automated way. Building scripts was his crime. Carmen Ortiz was his prosecutor. She killed him.

Microsoft

Journal: Windows 8 falls behind Vista adoption pace at month 2 1

Journal by symbolset

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that based on NetApplications current adoption statistics for Windows 8, the operating system is not achieving market share as fast as Windows Vista. At the 2 month point Vista was at 2.2% of all Windows devices. 2 months past Launch Windows 8 has achieved a share of only 1.6%. In a related note, Fujitsu President Masami Yamamoto has joined the chorus of PC OEM executives complaining of poor sales. Pointedly Yamamoto blames Windows 8 for Fujitsu missing their annual projected sales targets.

User Journal

Journal: voicefive.com is Comscore tracking

Journal by symbolset

The voicefive.com script that's taking forever to load on slashdot these days is used for usage tracking. It's harmless. But the server is so overloaded that it's taking pages forever to load.

User Journal

Journal: Making the turn

Journal by symbolset

It's time to talk about the hard turn.

Change has been in the wind for a while now. The times, they are a-changing. We are going mobile. Windows PCs undersell mobile devices now by a rate of 1:2, and the change is logarithmic. This isn't some fad: real change is happening.

Some have read the weather well. Samsung especially, but Acer, Asus, Philips, Sony and Lenovo too. HP and Dell, not so much.

We're entering a new world now, that doesn't have legacy bindings holding us back. Let us make the most of it.

Philogyny recapitulates erogeny; erogeny recapitulates philogyny.

Working...