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Identity, privacy, big tech, censorship, NFTs, Covid, and more; Technometria - Issue #2

Identity, privacy, big tech, censorship, NFTs, Covid, and more; Technometria - Issue #2
By Phil Windley • Issue #2 • View online

This past week, I taught my Distributed Systems class about distributed hash tables. But the real topic of the lecture was censorship and the weaknesses of systems that rely on centralized actors. I start by showing them this video on Napster, a story that unfolded when most of them were toddlers. We explore how Napster’s architecture, with a centralized directory and P2P sharing, led to their demise.
The Story Behind Napster
The Story Behind Napster
To some this is a story of privacy. To others a story of freedom. The video sets up a good discussion on the ethics of sharing copyrighted material and the technologies of decentralization–especially decentralized discovery.
Whether you see Napster, and similar services, as hero or villain, there are important questions about our future at play as we contemplate a world where digital technologies increasingly intermediate all of our relationships from the mundane to the intimate. Who can censor you? Who should be able to censor you? How do we decide?
Identity and Privacy
As usual, my reading list is full of stories on identity and privacy. Surveillance, by governments, companies, and even individuals is becoming increasingly easy.
Solving the public sector identity crisis: It’s time for governments to get serious about digital identities
Would you rather control your digital ID, or have it stored in someone else’s silo?
How Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) Enable Smarter Customer Insights, With Less Liability
Big Tech
More and more of our lives are being intermediated by just a few big tech companies. These stories show a few of the implications of that shift.
Pluralistic: 15 Mar 2021 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
Why Big Tech deplatforming should be deeply disturbing for everyone, regardless of your politics
Perspective | Want to borrow that e-book from the library? Sorry, Amazon won’t let you.
The big story in crypto for the last few weeks has been NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. There are many different use cases for NFTs. What sets them apart is the strength of the binding between the serialized token and the intellectual property that is the target of the NFT.
How NFTs and blockchain made ‘crypto art’, from Grimes’ digital art to Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, creating a new way of collecting | South China Morning Post
Lets get this straight, Bitcoin is an experiment in self-organizing collective intelligence. | by Jordan Hall | Deep Code | Medium
Intel to Build Silicon for Fully Homomorphic Encryption: This is Important
Denmark is introducing vaccine passports, eliminating the need to quarantine | PBS NewsHour
Is Digital Proof of Vaccination Really an Identity Problem? | Constellation Research Inc.
A viral tsunami: How the underestimated coronavirus took over the world
End Notes
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.
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Phil Windley

I build things; I write code; I void warranties

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