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Tipping Diaspora · Thursday May 20, 2010 by Crosbie Fitch

Diaspora is another snowflake in hell.

It won’t be long before it’s snowing.

Thousands of true fans want the pop group that is the fab four comprising the Diaspora project team to buckle down and do some intellectual work this summer. In exchange for close to $200,000, they expect the copyleft publication of that intellectual work (copyright neutralised).

More facilities like Kickstarter will arise to make such exchanges ever more easier, and to refine the details of those exchanges.

So, who needs copyright? Who needs a monopoly on the sale of copies when you can sell your intellectual work directly to your customers? Answer: Only the traditional publishers utilising anything from Caxton’s press to modern CD and DVD duplication plants. Not intellectual workers.

The intellectual worker does not need a monopoly. Moreover, that’s the last thing they need if they wish their audience and commissioning fanbase to grow in size (and revenue). They must remove the © prohibition against making copies of their work. They also need their work to be exempt from the collection society thugs threatening people for performing their work in public (qv PRS). The modern intellectual worker must restore the public’s liberty to their work, enabling their free promotion, so that many among their audience might just be inclined to commission them to produce more good work.

Anyway, back off the hobby horse and down to Earth.

The first problem the Diaspora team needs to solve in developing a distributed system is the identity/reputation of the participating computers.

Freenet may have some pointers. I’ve also written an introductory article: Ideating Identity.

With that not insubstantial problem cracked they can build from there, optimising the distribution and replication of information according to interest.

On top of that you then have the users’ identity/reputation issues.

And then the icing on the cake (that must come last) are the matters of privacy, secrecy, confidentiality, and discretion.

Privacy is physical and a misnomer in the context of distributed systems – it’s best not to use the term at all (to avoid confusing people).

Secrecy can be contrived to a limited extent via cryptography.

Confidentiality and discretion are inclinations of people, matters of honour/reputation and cannot be enforced through technology (or law). However, they can still be informally measured and incorporated as part of a social reputation metric.

So really, what one ends up with is simply a means of assuring high availability of all the information that anyone is still interested in. Moreover, guarantees will still be expensive. People will have to pay for guarantees of persistence and prevalence – if you don’t pay, and your information is uninteresting, it may degrade to offline storage, ultimately to evaporate.

Amy Lewis said 3165 days ago :

Well, time for me to DELETE my account thee… not ‘deactivate’. I’ve changed over to folkdirect.com which so far is going well and lots more open privacy controls there. As word spreads the community will get bigger and bigger. All good. Worth a try.

Crosbie Fitch said 3165 days ago :

Yes Amy, there are many flowers blooming. Diaspora is by no means the only one, and it’s certainly not the first to aim for a decentralised implementation.

I am amused at the oxymoron of ‘open privacy’. Either you disclose something or you do not. There is no such thing as a ‘circulation control’ that can be applied to human beings, especially when they are in possession of an instantaneous diffusion device. You can ask your ‘friends’ to be discrete, circumspect, prudent, even to respect your confidences and guard any secrets, but you cannot gag them.

Anyway, one day people will recognise that one can prevent indiscretion as easily as copyright infringement, which is to say not at all. The aspiration and attempt is foolish at best and antisocial at worst. There is no privacy or dissemination control in a system designed to efficiently distribute information to and among the public.



 

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