Vegan Atheist Crossfitter ~ Which do you mention first?

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Vegan, Atheist, Crossfitter: Which Do You Mention First?


Day/Session:Thursday 5F

Convener:Justin Richer

Notes-taker(s): Aaron Parecki


Tags for the session – technology discussed/ideas considered:

Identity, privacy, groups


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:


In the real world, our memberships in groups come up in conversation even without prompting.


Jacob: (shouts letters and numbers)

aaronpk: replies with letters and numbers


Justin: I don't know what just happened there.


they both just shared their amateur radio call signs.


With our digital identity systems, we don't have a way to signal this membership.


Could we or should we? Do we want to?


There have been many attempts in the past about building explicit personas. When I go to your website I can see things. The real world doesn't work like that. 


We walk in to a room with a primary persona we're projecting, but we can give signals hinting at memberships without explicitly giving it away.


Alan: Can DIDs solve this by slowly building up an identity?


No, because that's an explicit declaration, not hinting or sending subtle invisible signals. Those links are irrevocable.


Group privacy - I may be comfortable saying something about myself, but others may not want to share that they have that thing in common. 


Problem with existing digital systems is for example you're in a facebook group or you're not. Everyone else can see you're in that group.


George: these tensions exist in real life. If there's a big group of people, I might know two of the people and be able to ask them questions without revealing to the larger group that I am a member.


Justin: A session from last IIW, when someone joins an online group, everyone else knows and now has to vet. Exercise: 5 people in the room, close your eyes. Everyone who has accepted money from the federal government raise your hand. Now put your hands down. Open your eyes. Now everyone who didn't raise your hand has to leave. Then when someone new walked into the room, had to do the exercise again.


Jeff: correlating data - two-factor authentication and stuff can hide data for a while. how do you keep privacy hidden?


Justin: the argument against my stance is sure you can do correlations but why make it easy?


George: is the need or expectation around personas generational? for me, I created a bunch of accounts and a separate email for photography stuff. created around a different persona. the vast majority of that is in its own space. I have one email for standards stuff. 


Justin: George takes amazing photos. most people don't know that. 


Alan: george did a slight reveal, and you completed outed him.


Justin: exactly. George said "I've got this photograph thing". That could mean any number of things. But truth is he takes these very beautiful photos, and I've added that bit of information. I am also a musician, I have 6 albums out, and a lot of people who I deal with on a day to day basis don't know that. It doesn't tend to come up in my professional circumstances, and it's something I do try to keep separate. some of us are more blatant about sharing our musical inclinations. we can very easily in the course of human communication do things like belting out an opera to dropping hints about music.


Jacob: we keep saying how do we technologically do this? but it's a human thing. do we need a technical thing to solve this? if we have a way to communicate as humans we can do this online.


Justin: I am not a security nerd. The reason i'm in security is my background is in collaboration systems. The point of a collaboration system is to facilitate human communication. You can't do those kind of things effectively unless you keep security and privacy in mind. So does the technology matter? I would say yes but from the capability and functionality standpoint. We have this interesting hack that people do to explicitly separate these things. People use different email addresses. I have different websites for my music stuff and business stuff and (when it was online) my personal web page. Another example, reddit, an important feature is that it's almost instantaneous to create a new account. It has a tradition of throwaway accounts, people create an account to participate in a conversation pseudonymously. These are all hacks on top of systems. I have a main reddit account, which has a lot of reputation, but I don't use that to make controversial statements, or associate with groups I don't want to be seen as participating with.


Alan: back to the photography thing, this was an incremental reveal. 


Justin: I know someone who has two different photography personas, one that takes graduation photos and one that does more risqué photos. He ultimately has his name on both, but there are no direct links between the two.


Justin: what i'm getting at, is could we or should we build systems that I can attach these hints to without explicitly attaching things to my account.


Justin: signaling group memberships. I was able to choose what I wear today when I got dressed. It's harder to do that online by curating your facebook profile before you go join a group.


?: Telegram has a mechanism like this. When you view someone's profile you see which groups you're in that you have in common with them.


Jeff: there are some number of aspects of people that are facts that they might be willing to put down in a profile


Justin: I think you'll find there are a lot of people who have some of these things that they may choose to protect instead.


How can someone signal that they are a member of a group to someone they are interacting with without explicitly reveal it?


Being able to drop a piece of jargon into an otherwise innocuous sentence. Relying on the other person to recognize that it may not be a thing they can acknowledge in public right away.


Something that is fine for you may be detrimental for someone else. 


You're always taking a risk by trying to make a connection. 


Justin: there is potentially some technology that could help people do this more safely. the tools we have for people to do this today are very coarse. make a new account and hope nobody can correlate them later.


George: the takeaway is we should have less online communication and more in person communication and the world would be a better place.


Justin: you're not wrong, but...  The rules are different. 


?: the telephone. there's a difference between the telephone and using skype. I don't expect the telephone will remember the conversation, whereas on skype, the chances of it being recorded on skype are a lot higher.