Ex Die in Diem


In The Open

This is a big moment for me, and I want to blog it.

So speaks Drew in this week’s episode of Only Human. It’s an interesting perspective, and not uncommon for people his age these days. Or even for people a lot older than him: I’m looking at you, instagrammers.

I’m not as much of a sharer as most of the people on the Internet; I only really have this site, with its handful of pictures and this little blog, infrequently updated. I use the web a lot, but mostly for information rather than communication, at least in the open.

It’s a funny thing, that: mostly when we talk to one another we like to think that we’re doing it in a fairly private way: not secretive, but quietly, and with little chance of being overheard. That’s true as far as it goes if we talk face-to-face, or if we send letters or mostly when we use the phone. Of course, if GCHQ want to check these things they mostly can, and soon it’ll even be legal for them to do so.

But we also often believe that we’re talking privately when we do so on the Internet: emails or Facebook or whatever the latest chat thing is. The truth is that we make that assumption and then stop thinking about it until we read an article or have a conversation with a geek and it is explained that for the most part these things are more like postcards than letters, able to be read simply and easily by anyone who passes them along on their way to our correspondent.

And then we pause, and reflect, and realise we don’t have anything to hide anyway, and who really cares if Google are reading our email, or our internet provider can see which websites we’ve accessed, or someone else on the cafe wifi can read all the messages we’re sending to that cute girl we met last night. We’ve got nothing to hide.

But some of us worry a little more, and we prefer to use apps or services that are a little more secure, or a lot more secure. Some of us rest a little easier when the message bubble is blue, or when another friend gets Signal, or when we get an opportunity to use OTR, or Axolotl or OMEMO, or can look up someone’s PGP key, or their miniLock ID.

And for people like that, people like me, it becomes a game, a fun thing to research and play with, and even though I’m not a dissident or a journalist and it isn’t threatening my life I get a kick out of using it, and that means I push my correspondents to use it, and that makes it a little more commonplace and a little less like painting a target on your forehead if you’re one of the few who really needs this kind of technology.

But after all that, worrying about metadata and leaving as little a trace as possible, and keeping myself to myself in my communications, then I shout about it here. There’s no forward secrecy or deniability about this site, nothing secret or safe or private. Because this is my online life led in the open, for all to see and learn who I am and what I think and feel. For the most part, that’s my friends and family, but who knows?

Maybe you’re a friend of a friend, or some poor person looking for the other Duncan McNicholl, who landed here and got stuck like a wasp in jam. Whoever you are, you’re welcome to what’s here, and if you’re willing to be circumspect, you’re welcome to talk to me directly too. Just tread softly, because I prefer not to leave too many footprints when I’m out in the wilderness of the light web.

This is from the