2007-10-02T21:40-0800 Intermediaries
Part of a series of blog posts:
  1. Independence Day
  2. Intermediaries
  3. Death by Boredom
  4. H-T-T-P, You Know Me
  5. Reachability on the Edge
  6. How Many Nines Does One Person Need?

I have had more vivid dreams, but the last one was a long debate between me and my friends because I was using mutt and it was calling "mailbox deadlocks" on their servers. Nothing more draining than waking up after dreaming an imaginary one hour conference call, especially when you realise you have a real one hour conference call in a few minutes. So I shan't talk about that.

I've been spending some time explaining in a hand-waving fashion my instincts about moving to the very edge. Usually I keep this stuff close to my chest until I've thought it all out, for fear of looking like an over-obvious idiot. But over time I've seen a lot of obvious idiots become fantastically smart just by letting it all hang out online, so I will bore you with my half-baked, poorly styled, not-very-viral ideas as they occur.

Brief summary of the thesis: I'm bored of this current revolution, so I'm doing the cheap trick to help plot out a possible next one, which is to reverse and take to its extreme one of the obvious contemporary trends. My question right now: given that we're entrusting so much data and control now to the cloud and the server-farm, what happens if we pull the other way, and swing more power out to the edge, and the end-user? How far can we go with that?

Intermediaries have been what I've been considering today. Browsing EFFish issues, I see a lot of problems which are caused by the distance between an intermediaries' goals, and that of its customers. When your hosting provider, includes as part of their terms and conditions that they reserve the right to take you down if you cause problems with them (or even criticise them)

Intermediaries don't have to be corporate though, nor middle-men. Pooling resources in a communal way can have problems, too (witness my dream, where my mutt process brings down everybody else's accounts on a communal co-loc). And even having a home server doesn't seem to fit how I imagine protecting data and providing user power. There are interactions and privacy that exist within a home, and between friends.

I guess what I'm imagining is the single-person server: holding and electively sharing your data with other single-person servers. I don't see this as substantially different from people having their own phones. Indeed, phones are already powerful enough to support that.

(The 21st century question about this is -- what are the energy costs? I'm not going to have that argument for a while, because I want to find out more about the nature of decentralised energy systems.)