I think tech people have been aware of this for a while, but it is worth exploring again
Hi, I'm Tom Hanks. If you see me in public, please leave me be.
3 min read
Flash back 10 years ago. No one gave a shit about cybersecurity unless you were in China or a ghostwritten Tom Clancy novel. Then, as people started using networked services in more places, the information leaks began. It was still not an issue for the government (particularly, law enforcement), because useful data was just as accessible to them as it was to nefarious agents, like hackers or Facebook.
In 2013, the Snowden leaks began to paint a picture of just how much our own security agencies relied on cybersecurity weakness in their day-to-day operations. Snowden had trouble finding a journalist who could figure out how to use PGP to read his heavily encrypted messages to disseminate this information.
The leaked information made Silicon Valley companies very angry. So they began to encrypt transmissions between their data centers, as well as building it into their email, messaging, and mobile operating systems.
Now, encryption is just lots of math. Ever watch a movie about code breakers in WWII? Encryption. The only difference now is that common computers can do a lot more math in a short amount of time. But before this point, it was never viewed as particularly important to consumer software.
Think of it this way. In the same way that a gun is an offensive weapon, encryption is a defensive weapon. It protects your information from prying eyes, whomever that may be.
So now law enforcement has a problem. This technology is widely available, even to enemies of the state. Their proposed solution is to break it. Or to put it in their words, make it work for some and not for others. Kind of like how if you point a gun at something or someone you like, it will not fire. Because it only works in certain situations.
This is obviously a farce. As the old argument goes, if we outlaw guns, only law breakers will have guns. Since enemies of the state are not likely to stop using encrypted communication if it is outlawed, the only people without it will be law-abiding citizens. Effectively the exact opposite of the stated goal.
Remember this when some idiot presidential candidate2 tries to tell you how encryption is bad because terrorists are bad. The only benefit of outlawing encryption is to spy on you.
2 min read
Moving the blog to Known has been in the back of my mind for a while now, so I finally pulled the trigger. This has been a fun weekend project, now spilling into Tuesday. Wordpress maintenance has become too cumbersome for my needs, and Known has been a breath of fresh air. Some notes from my experience:
I have not written many posts lately, as evidenced by my Wordpress page (currently at pilchernet.com). Hopefully this refresh will kickstart some creativity.
2 min read
The indie web, its called. Made up of the people who got tired of talking about these concepts and decided to start doing something about them.
I first heard about them on one of my weekly must-hear podcasts, In Beta (episode 90). Then a guest on another webcast I enjoy regularly - This Week in Google #241 - brought it up near the end. (TWiG actually just dedicated most of an episode to it - #266.)
I always viewed blogging (at least my blog) as a spot for thoughts that skewed toward longform writing, that could not be fleshed out in a short snippet. The indie web, however, encourages tweet-length thoughts as well as longer posts, which can then be syndicated to whatever social network you choose. The point is to not keep those thoughts siloed somewhere that may eventually shut down or change their policies, but to control your online identity, on your own terms. You can build your own tools, or you can browse the IndieWeb site to find something pre-built to use on your site.
But how will people see these posts if they are on #Facebook or #Twitter? Well, they thought of that too. POSSE stands for Post (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. By syndicating, your non-IndieWeb friends will still get to see what you are up to. And using the webmention protocol, comments and replies will be pulled back into your own site as well.
If you are feeling less brave, one of the higher-profile indie web tools just launched a beta. It is called Known, and it has been treating me well so far. I look forward to their hosted/beta service adding a Wordpress plugin. But if I did my work right, you should see my #Known post about this article down below.
TL;DR: if you see anything oddly formatted posts on my site or one of my social profiles, it is probably an attempt at implementing one of the Indie Web projects. Maybe if you are getting wary of Facebook and you're looking for a technically-inclined side project, you should check it out too.