[Freedombox-discuss] Introductions

Anthony Towns aj at erisian.com.au
Fri Aug 27 21:12:17 UTC 2010

On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 13:45, Lars Wirzenius <liw at liw.fi> wrote:
> On pe, 2010-08-27 at 18:59 +0000, Clint Adams wrote:
>> In my mind, a fundamental requirement to the success of such a freedom box
>> would be some sort of distributed, decentralized naming system.
> I concur. In general, I think we are going to have to avoid any central
> dependency for anything at all.

So what naming systems do we have? There's IPv4 and IPv6 -- they have
the problem that many people aren't addressable by IPv4, many more
aren't by IPv6, and both are a pain for humans to deal with; there's
DNS which is probably too much hassle for regular people to setup;
there's email, though that doesn't allow totally automatic handling;
there's a bunch of social network services like facebook, linkedin,
identi.ca, and whatnot which may or may not have APIs to be more
automatic than email; and there's public key encryption which lets you
know who you're talking to, but not find them in the first place.

Perhaps an approach would be to have a freedom box be primarily
identified by a key, which is then associated with some human usable
data like a name or a picture or a mobile phone number or whatever,
and a bunch of electronic contact details including IP and email
addresses, a facebook account, whatever. If you want to hook up with
Bob's freedom box, you:

    (a) enter Bob's DNS address so your freedom boxes can talk directly
    (b) enter Bob's email address; your freedom box emails Bob with a
link that he can click that will introduce your freedom boxes to each
    (c) use a facebook app if you're already friends on facebook, that
can introduce your two freedom boxes

I can't quite think how to make (b) work -- if you don't know Bob's
freedom box address, how do you give Bob a link that he can click
that'll pass information to his freedom box? Maybe that has to be more
like "emails Bob with a string he can paste into his freedom box that
will allow it to perform the introduction". I'm not sure if that's
easy enough though.

Having $RANDOM_SOCIAL_NETWORK be usable to make introductions seems
like a win, especially if that's just using a generic freedom box
"introduction" API of some sort -- that way you get to easily pull out
all the existing social network information onto the user's own
system, without adding any extra hassle for users.

The completely decentralised approach would be to use a distributed
hash table and have each freedom box register an id as the key, and
their location as the data -- then you just need to find some other
freedom box to join the hash table initially, and your friends' ids in
order to be completely connected, and cope with dynamic IPs and
whatnot. Likely a good thing overall, but getting email and social
networks working is probably a bigger win for the masses.


Anthony Towns <aj at erisian.com.au>

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