What got you interested in MaidSafe and SAFE Network in the first place?
Cryptomania, security, the coding challenge, idealism - we’re all here for some reason. Here’s mine.
What brought me here was the possibility of an engineering solution to the web’s dire privacy problem.
As kids, a friend and I used to while away the pre-PC hours thinking about what sort of things would be possible when we were old (‘old’ then was thought to be about 30). One of the ideas we came up with was a machine that could answer any question you asked of it.
And then, in the late 90s there it was. At the company where I worked internet access was restricted to the select few, but occasionally, if we asked nicely, us plebs we allowed a go on it too. In those days the web’s main purpose seemed to be a place for weird oversharing Americans to post news and pics of their cats and kids (‘why the hell would anyone want to do that??? I mean, who cares that Taylor’s now in tenth grade and that her acne’s getting better??’), but Yahoo was there and you could search for anything and actually find quite a bit too. Amazing.
Then one day, after a few drinks, the sysadmin took me aside and told me he could track all the websites that people had been looking at and who was into what. He thought it was a laugh, office gossip, but having been a teenage addict of Orwell and other dystopian literature and films, I didn’t find it at all funny. In fact it gave me a Very Bad Feeling. Naively I had no idea that such surveillance was possible and I didn’t like it one bit.
I don’t think the sysadmin ever used his ‘special power’ (then again the company folded soon afterwards so perhaps he did) but it didn’t take too much imagination to see how this third eye could be deployed for evil ends. I’d glimpsed into the abyss.
From that day to this I’ve been pretty careful about what I do on the web. I value my privacy which is why there are curtains on my windows and a door on the toilet. It’s also why I use a VPN, Qubes and different personas across different sites, and why I bore my son with advice on what not to share. I do not want some creep spying on me or my family, even if it’s ‘for our own good’. Of course, it’s all rather pointless. Staying anonymous on the web is impossible - but trying at least makes me feel I have a little bit of control.
Then along came Snowden the Revelator, demonstrating that if anything the fevered imaginations of us paranoiacs had been WAY too limited. Mass surveillance, he pointed out, has very little to do with security. It’s about control, money and the consolidation of power. The amazing answer machine had turned evil. At this point I started looking seriously at solutions rather than damage limitation.
The law, obviously, is an ass. It cannot keep up with technology, is too localised and is too easily bought by the rich and powerful.
Post-Snowden, a few privacy-oriented social media sites popped up, but they were a bit crap and no-one much used them - and anyway how could you know if they were trustworthy?
The personal information economy idea seemed promising, but really it was just tinkering around the edges of the issue.
Something more fundamental was needed to kickstart a privacy revolution. A proper, all-encompasing solution offering privacy by default. A privacy platform, in other words. I started Duckduckgoing and Startpaging around.
And that is what eventually led me here two years ago. I found other privacy platforms out there, but none with the breadth of vision of SAFE Network. I instinctively trusted the down to earth engineerishness of the MaidSafe team (none of that Silicon Valley braggadacio here) and I loved the forum and the way David and the team interacted with it. So here’s hoping MaidSafe succeeds - my tinfoil budget’s through the roof.
So what brought you here? Feel free to add your story below.