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Privacy Ring Reactions

I've had more reaction to my blog entry on privacy rings than anything else I've written to date.

Doc Searls:

I never liked the "It's the ______ (economy, war, oil, user, rules, latency, research, sex, games, runtime, comedy), stupid" line. But it's a good working cliché, so let's add one more log to its fire: writing.

This morning I came to the conclusion, after reading Frank Boosman's pseudorandom blog, that blogging is about nothing more than writing -- and that more of us will be writing to more people, with more effect, because of it.

Every new blogging tool is one more step in the evolution of the Web as, literally, the ultimate writing medium: one that lets anybody write for everybody.

I don't know what it was about my blog entry that led Doc to this conclusion. I've written him but have yet to hear back. Doc, if you're reading this, I'd like to understand the connection.

As for Doc's thesis itself, as much as I respect Doc, I disagree with what he's saying here. To me, it's akin to someone in 1993 saying that the Internet was all about Usenet newsgroups. Like many other early Internet users, I posted regularly to newsgroups back then, but as new types of Web-based services became available, not only did many new Internet users not seek out newsgroups, even some existing newsgroup users like me gravitated away from them.

It's true that, today, blogging is about writing. The 500,000 (or so) people currently blogging are, for a variety of reasons, heavily biased towards expressing themselves through words. But I don't believe this will remain true for long. Though there will always be a core of bloggers who are passionate about writing (including me), I believe that most of the growth in blogging -- which I expect to be two or three orders of magnitude within five years -- will come through people who blog from mobile devices and who do so mostly through rich media such as pictures, video, and the like.

Scott Loftesness:

Frank Boosman has a great idea about adding some selective private placement with conditional access to certain portions of a weblog.

The tool that I use for this weblog, Radio UserLand, allows me to configure something like that capability -- but it's reasonably hard to do (involves changing selected configuration files, etc). A more general and open solution to this requirement would, I think, be well received and expand the usage of weblogs into new territories.

I need to learn more about Radio UserLand and what it enables. I fully admit to a fairly Blogger-centric view of the world. In any case, Scott's on the right track when he talks about a "more general and open solution."

Mark Paschal:

Also, privacy rings (also via Scott) through categories could be a nice Radio tool -- though LiveJournal already has them, and not with. Plus of a centralized authentication system, I guess. Maybe encrypt items to particular ring keys, that you give to everyone in a ring? I seem to remember from Applied Cryptography there are better systems, ones that would let you give individual keys to each user and encrypt posts to, but I’d have to look (now that I have a copy!).
Reading this, I realized that privacy rings could be misleading as a term, given that the word ring is used in two contexts, Web Rings and key rings, that are related to the concept. I'm using the term ring vaguely in the Web Ring context -- a ring of people.

Bill Humphries:

[via Scott Loftesness ] Frank Booseman [sic] would like blog tools to support walled garden posting. He's inspired when a friend would love to post photos from a party, but not to the whole world. Live Journal, which I've been playing with lately, supports this. It can, because it's a monolitic (on the server-side) application. I created a LJ account, and friends who were already there added me to their 'friends' list, and added them to mine. They post a private entry, and their friends see it, but not others. As one longtime friend from Fandom pointed out, this means you have have online exchanges which are more like the APA's we were in during the 1980's and 1990's.

Using FOaF, authentication, and some modules bolted onto RSS, that would be a start.

I'll write more about this soon, but what I have in mind is less of a proprietary system and more of a standard for exchanging information between systems.

John Ludwig:

Privacy Rings and Selective Privacy. Dead on -- pseudorandom -- a crying need.
Thanks, John, and to everyone who took the time to comment on my ideas.

I'll write more on privacy rings soon. Stay tuned.

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