Sunday, October 7, 2012


In my ideal internet, I would have my own server and provide email and web hosting services to my family and pals. This server would be connected to the net with a fast connection. I could use my server to encrypt and proxy my access so my ISP can't spy on me.  None of my traffic would be in the clear, with an obvious destination, and even traffic analysis would be difficult. Every person would control her/his own data. My identity would be associated with my home server, to assist in authentication. Lots of other nerds could do the same thing, and share expertise.

So what's stopping me? Cost. Cowardice. Distractions. Priorities.


David Eagle said...

I support your apparent objectives. For example, you want to provide email and web hosting services for your friends and family. This implies you wish to prevent a remote company from storing (and reading) your private communications. It also implies that you feel it should be "free" to have a website. I agree that our private communications should be private. And I would like it to be possible to create a (static) website, put it on the Web once, and count on it always being accessible, without an ongoing financial commitment. Having your own server, or using one owned by a close friend or relative, is one approach. I would hope that the market would also provide an array of other solutions.

You also bring up the issue of identification. As a libertarian, we should strongly believe in the importance of identification. (Note that I am not suggesting that there is no place for anonymity.) We believe in individual rights and individual responsibility. This relies upon the ability to identify each other. For example, if you hold the deed to property, you would hope that someone else cannot easily come along and pretend to be you and usurp your ownership. Similarly, if someone is guilty of murder, you would not want to be mistaken for this person and sentenced to the electric chair. Since this is just a blog comment, I won't go into this issue any deeper now, but will leave it at just this: "we need a way to authenticate our identity". Again, it goes without saying that I would hope that the market would supply alternative authentication services.

Finally, I will mention something about my "ideal internet". First off, I hope that my structure could - during a transitional period - co-exist with the existing Internet. I have several objections to the current Internet design. I suggest a completely different naming mechanism (that does not require a central authority) and a completely different routing mechanism. What I want is for my computer to be an independent broadcast communication node. I want it to participate in the network similarly to a cell phone tower, capturing network traffic and forwarding it to another computer closer to the final destination. In other words, my computer would send communications for other people, and in exchange other computers using the same broadcast technology would forward my communications. Hopefully, my computer would end up doing about as much work for other people as the total amount of work other computers do on my behalf, so that the system is "fair". But, I can imagine that some computers would be located in important geographic connecting points, and would forward more than their fair share of traffic. It would be nice if you could make money setting up such important forwarding nodes.

Oh, and one last thing: as a user I want the whole thing to be turnkey. I just turn on my computer, check the box saying "participate in the worldwide forwarding/routing service", and then go about my business. In other words, I should not have to be a computer geek to use this service. (But, of course, all the early adopters will be nerds!)

Thomas said...

Thanks for the feedback. I will probably update the entry to make my objectives clearer, or at least my objections to the status quo.

WRT identification and authentication, I think public key crypto ought to make that trivial (as I didcussed briefly in another post for online stuff. It seems odd to me that no one is using it.

I thought I was being ambitious - reinventing the routing protocols of the internet is a big deal. Sounds a bit like project meshnet