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Plunge Through the Glass

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Crash! Shattered glass. Screams. Chaos. Blood. Blood. Blood. A seemingly endless river of blood.

These are the sights and sounds that will haunt my dreams for years to come, the moment Richard Hendricks’s noble code sprint almost turned fatal. We all feared the worst. The near defecation, the evacuation of the stomach, the head-first dive into glass — our captain seemed to be going down the Grim Reaper’s checklist. I could hear the all-too-familiar death knell. O! I had promised myself I would die before he did.

I blame our salty-hearted crew. They arrived aboard our vessel an unruly, insolent bunch. Refusing to row in unison, demanding coffee and dogs and milliseconds. It was their mutiny that drove Richard to code himself into delirium.

Ears ringing. Flashing lights. Sirens. Tears. Blackout.

I was told that I couldn’t ride in the ambulance with Richard because the frequency of my wailing was interfering with the monitors, so I returned to the office. I expected to return to a crew of disloyal mariners, but something miraculous was happening. Harmony. With Dinesh and Gilfoyle as their coxswains, the Optimojians, the Sliceliners, and the Stallions were navigating the rapids as one. They were inspired by Richard — at long last! — and his willingness to put work before life. I could almost taste the seafoam as the hull carved through the water.

In the end, Richard’s plunge through the glass proved to be just as effective as the three-day New Employee Orientation I had planned. Who knew cleaning Richard’s blood off the back of computer monitors could be just as bonding as an office scavenger hunt or non-competitive talent show?

Now Richard is back among his crew, drinking ale on the decks (following the doctor’s orders for regular fluid intake) and letting the sea air heal his wounds (resisting my regular application of Mederma to his scars). And I? I stand by his side, hoisting the Piper Pennant on the mast once more!

 

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  1. It’s very good to hear that Richard is doing good and that everything is going to plan. Nice to see the strong bond between you and Richard, as this shows a stable company. Can’t wait for the new internet guys! I believe in you!

Problem 1:

Single Points of Failure

Libraries are vulnerable to losing their collection because all of their books are contained at a single location. Say, for instance, that there was a fire, or a flood, or a vandal defaced John James Audubon’s masterpiece Birds of America by giving all the Warblers human genitalia. Even worse, if the vandal recruited bird haters from other neighborhoods and got ahold of all the copies of the book in existence, it could be lost crude doodles forever. It would be a tragedy on par with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

The Problem

Because Birds of America is centralized in one public location, it’s susceptible to permanent deletion. The same goes for content on the Internet — storing all your family photos on a single account in a cloud service? They could all be wiped away if someone hacked your account or corrupted the host servers.

The Solution

Our solution: In our decentralized library, we would duplicate and distribute multiple copies of Birds of America to your neighbors — if you need a copy, you would just go to your neighbor’s house. As our Pipernet town of mobile devices grows, so do the number of neighbors who might have a copy of your book. And the more potential copies there are available, the more secure the book is.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: spread your personal files on devices across the world, so they’re completely safe from bad actors manipulating or deleting them.

Takeaways

All copies of your files in a well-known, hackable location = RISKY!

Files copied and distributed to multiple locations = SAFE!

Problem 2:

No Privacy

In order to check out books, you must have a library card — an ID that links back to your real world identity. That library card reveals all the books you’ve ever checked out, where you returned them, and whether they were returned on time.

The Problem

The tech titans collect data profiles on us too, and theirs are far more comprehensive. They amass thousands of personal data points by tracking our activities in both the online and physical worlds.

Users don’t own or control their own data, so it can be used against them. Take, for instance, Richard’s lawyer Pete Monahan, who had his probation revoked when the state retrieved his library records. Which was… probably a good idea. But for this metaphor’s purposes: bad that they can access that information!

On the web, our data profile is far more detailed, the laws around privacy even looser, and more freedoms are at stake. For example, what if Hooli sold your search data to an insurance company who then denied you coverage because you’ve HooliSearch-ed “kindest Palo Alto based Cardiologist” a few too many times?

The Solution

Replace library cards with anonymous identification cards which are impossible to connect to your real world identity. Instead of using a library card (linked to your name, address, etc.) to check out books, you would swipe a nondescript card (containing no personal details). Your activity would be tracked to keep the system stable, but your identity would not be siphoned and sold. I, for example, would no longer check out books as "Donald Dunn," but rather the nom de guerre "h3w0vbk37vpm."

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: use its apps and services without compromising your privacy.

Takeaways

Trading your identity and data for online services = RISKY!

Using services anonymously so nobody can target you = SAFE!

Problem 3:

Censorship and Manipulation

Because a town’s library is run by a small group of administrators, they could theoretically decide what books are available to its people. They could even decide to ban Birds of America, depriving young birders of Audubon’s elegant illustrations, pored over page by page under a government-issued blanket after lights out, giving you hope that even a slender-framed, shivering boy could grow to be as majestic as a Hooded Merganser.

The Problem

On the internet, multinational corporations can screen content, or even “adapt” their services to fit the local government’s requests. In both libraries and on the Web, we’re susceptible to data being censored or manipulated by intermediaries.

The Solution

A peer-to-peer lending system backed up by a fully public ledger, allowing you to send and receive books freely to anybody in the world without worrying about censorship or interference. Want to add Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, or your controversial essay on Audubon’s coloring techniques? No problem, even if the town surrounded you with pitchforks to ban them, these vital texts would be available to share neighbor to neighbor, impossible to delete.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: exchange messages and files directly with their intended receiver, disperse ideas and information free from threats of censorship.

Takeaways

Pushing all transactions through a central authority = OPPRESSIVE!

Establishing a peer to peer exchange system based on an immutable public ledger = FREE!

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