Control Point

[Ben’s note: I don’t like to beg, but after publishing “The Two Worlds of Data In

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  1. Just wanted to say thanks for bringing/begging Neville Crawley back into the pack. He’s a very sharp technology scout and I’ve missed his reports from the leading edge. I encountered my first military tactical computer in 1968, and have tracked the arc of hardware and software developments (as well as related societal impacts) for a long, long time. Was very glad to see ET creating a pack territory outside of pernicious social media. Neville’s intuitions about the general direction we need to take seem very sound. Aren’t we all starving for “large changes in personal behavior and value creation”?

  2. Avatar for jim.r jim.r says:

    The internet was created with one thing in mind: de-centralization of connectivity. No single entity could control what was available to the end-users. The technical titans behind the internet in it’s early days fought successfully against the Bell telco spin-offs and other parties to maintain this (although they were successful mostly because telco executives really hadn’t the foggiest idea of the potential of the internet at the time).

    So now we have this wonderful de-centralized canvas, and what do the masses do? BEG for centralization of the application layer! Happily keep their entire life in Apple’s datacenter as long as it means they don’t need to expend the slightest bit of mental sweat into their electronics usage. Install any kind of spyware Facebook can dream of as long as it means they can see what their neighbor posts.

    Neville, I loved your concept of the Self Sovereign Identity. Had me dreaming of that reality. But normal people just can’t handle that, and have no interest in attempting to handle it. I can’t imagine a future where any of the people in my life actually expend any amount of effort into controlling their data privacy. Everyone preaches to have an interest in their data privacy since it provides a platform on which to appear informed, but that goes out the window as soon as they need to navigate with Google Maps. Maybe OpenStreetMap can get them there too, without a tracking cookie, but it’s only 98% as easy to use as GMaps. That 2% hassle just isn’t worth to them.

  3. James - I concur with your somewhat dismal assessment of humanity - and I mean dismal in the economic sense, as in “the dismal science”, not in the dark, pessimistic sense. Hasn’t the march of Personal Freedom always been led by a few dragging along the Grumbling Unwilling of humanity? The America of the Revolution had a lot of Tories; ALL were not willing to sacrifice for their own Freedom. The same is true of the end of slavery - not everyone was an abolitionist and even among those, how many actually marched and were willing to die for that cause? Pick any great change toward individual freedom (from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr.) and what you will find is the Great Unwashed coming along reluctantly, only AFTER someone else - or some small group - has the courage to lead. I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying, yes, I concur with what you say, but I don’t think it changes Neville’s point or observation. Eventually, people will go along - albeit reluctantly - where the Remnant leads (with a hat tip to Mr. Nock). At least, that seems to be the march of history, regardless of how many of us wind up with our naivete shattered along the way.

  4. I’d add Life after Google by George Gilder to Neville’s list at the end. The book winds in and out of a number of topics eventually getting to Blockstack, which represents another future option being developed for the return of control/authorization of personal data.

  5. Thank you! - It’s great to be back on ET, and now with interactive format. Cheers, Neville

  6. Thanks for your thoughts James and Dale - I agree that it is really hard to get adoption of what I’ve come to call ‘organic chicken products’ (substitute products that we all know are better for us, but require marginally more time / money than the junk food version). I don’t think that self-sovereign identity is close to convenience (or utility) parity yet with, for example, Facebook login. But I do think it can be and we are moving in that direction. I’m a fan of the W3C verifiable claims data model as an underpinning standard that will help us to move there (, with much work to do on convenient applications built on top of this.

  7. Thank you, Todd - just purchased!

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