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Meet Moxie Marlinspike, the Anarchist Bringing Encryption to All of Us | WIRED
"Marlinspike isn’t particularly interested in a debate, either; his mind was made up long ago, during years as an anarchist living on the fringes of society. “From very early in my life I’ve had this idea that the cops can do whatever they want, that they’re not on your team,” Marlinspike told me. “That they’re an armed, racist gang.”

Marlinspike views encryption as a preventative measure against a slide toward Orwellian fascism that makes protest and civil disobedience impossible, a threat he traces as far back as J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI wiretapping and blackmailing of Martin Luther King Jr. “Moxie is compelled by the troublemakers of history and their stories,” says Tyler Rein­hard, a designer who worked on Signal. “He sees encryption tools not as taking on the state directly but making sure that there’s still room for people to have those stories.”

ASK MARLINSPIKE TO tell his own story, and—no surprise for a privacy zealot—he’ll often answer with diversions, mono­syllables, and guarded smiles. But anyone who’s crossed paths with him seems to have an outsize anecdote: how he once biked across San Francisco carrying a 40-foot-tall sailboat mast. The time he decided to teach himself to pilot a hot-air balloon, bought a used one from Craigslist, and spent a month on crutches after crashing it in the desert. One friend swears he’s seen Marlinspike play high-stakes rock-paper-scissors dozens of times—with bets of hundreds of dollars or many hours of his time on the line—and has never seen him lose.

But before Marlinspike was a subcultural contender for “most interesting man in the world,” he was a kid growing up with a different and far less interesting name on his birth certificate, somewhere in a region of central Georgia that he describes as “one big strip mall.” His parents—who called him Moxie as a nickname—separated early on. He lived mostly with his mother, a secretary and paralegal at a string of companies. Any other family details, like his real name, are among the personal subjects he prefers not to comment on.

Marlinspike hated the curiosity-killing drudgery of school. But he had the idea to try programming videogames on an Apple II in the school library. The computer had a Basic interpreter but no hard drive or even a floppy disk to save his code. Instead, he’d retype simple programs again and again from scratch with every reboot, copying in commands from manuals to make shapes fill the screen. Browsing the computer section of a local bookstore, the preteen Marlin­spike found a copy of 2600 magazine, the catechism of the ’90s hacker scene. After his mother bought a cheap desk­top computer with a modem, he used it to trawl bulletin board services, root friends’ computers to make messages appear on their screens, and run a “war-dialer” program overnight, reaching out to distant servers at random.

To a bored middle schooler, it was all a revelation. “You look around and things don’t feel right, but you’ve never been anywhere else and you don’t know what you’re missing,” Marlin­spike says. “The Internet felt like a secret world hidden within this one.”

By his teens, Marlinspike was working after school for a German software company, writing developer tools. After graduating high school—barely—he headed to Silicon Valley in 1999. “I thought it would be like a William Gibson novel,” he says. “Instead it was just office parks and highways.” Jobless and homeless, he spent his first nights in San Francisco sleeping in Alamo Square Park beside his desktop computer.

Eventually, Marlinspike found a programming job at BEA-owned Web­Logic. But almost as soon as he’d broken in to the tech industry, he wanted out, bored by the routine of spending 40 hours a week in front of a keyboard. “I thought, ‘I’m supposed to do this every day for the rest of my life?’” he recalls. “I got interested in experimenting with a way to live that didn’t involve working.”

For the next few years, Marlinspike settled into a Bay Area scene that was, if not cyberpunk, at least punk. He started squatting in abandoned buildings with friends, eventually moving into an old postal service warehouse. He began bumming rides to political protests around the country and uploading free audio books to the web of himself reading anarchist theorists like Emma Goldman.

He took up hitchhiking, then he upgraded his wanderlust to hopping freight trains. And in 2003 he spontaneously decided to learn to sail. He spent a few hundred dollars—all the money he had—on a beat-up 27-foot Catalina and rashly set out alone from San Francisco’s harbor for Mexico, teaching himself by trial and error along the way. The next year, Marlin­spike filmed his own DIY sailing documentary, called Hold Fast. It follows his journey with three friends as they navigate a rehabilitated, leaky sloop called the Pestilence from Florida to the Bahamas, finally ditching the boat in the Dominican Republic.

Even today, Marlinspike describes those reckless adven­tures in the itinerant underground as a kind of peak in his life. “Looking back, I and everyone I knew was looking for that secret world hidden in this one,” he says, repeating the same phrase he’d used to describe the early Internet. “I think we were already there.”

If anything can explain Marlinspike’s impulse for privacy, it may be that time spent off society’s grid: a set of experi­ences that have driven him to protect a less observed way of life. “I think he likes the idea that there is an unknown,” says Trevor Perrin, a security engineer who helped Marlinspike design Signal’s core protocol. “That the world is not a completely surveilled thing.”"



"Beneath its ultrasimple interface, Moxie Marlinspike’s crypto protocol hides a Rube Goldberg machine of automated moving parts. Here’s how it works.

1. When Alice installs an app that uses Marlinspike’s protocol, it generates pairs of numeric sequences known as keys. With each pair, one sequence, known as a public key, will be sent to the app’s server and shared with her contacts. The other, called a private key, is stored on Alice’s phone and is never shared with anyone. The first pair of keys serves as an identity for Alice and never changes. Subsequent pairs will be generated with each message or voice call, and these temporary keys won’t be saved.

2. When Alice contacts her friend Bob, the app combines their public and private keys—both their identity keys and the temporary ones generated for a new message or voice call—to create a secret shared key. The shared key is then used to encrypt and decrypt their messages or calls.

3. The secret shared key changes with each message or call, and old shared keys aren’t stored. That means an eavesdropper who is recording their messages can’t decrypt their older communications even if that spy hacks one of their devices. (Alice and Bob should also periodically delete their message history.)

4. To make sure she’s communicating with Bob and not an impostor, Alice can check Bob’s fingerprint, a shortened version of his public identity key. If that key changes, either because someone is impersonating Bob in a so-called man-in-the-middle attack or simply because he ­reinstalled the app, Alice’s app will display a warning."
moxiemarlinspike  encryption  privacy  security  2016  2600  surveillance  whatsapp  signal  messaging  anarchists  anarchism  openwhispersystems  tylerreinhard  emmagoldman  unschooling  education  learning  autodidacts  internet  web  online  work  economics  life  living  lawenforcement 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Moxie Marlinspike >> Blog >> The Worst
"The Worst

So I’d like to respond with an alternate philosophy that I will call “the worst.” The worst stands in direct contrast to Dustin Curtis, and suggests that one is actually more likely to engender a liberated life by getting the very worst of everything whenever possible.

The basic premise of the worst is that both ideas and material possessions should be tools that serve us, rather than things we live in service to. When that relationship with material possessions is inverted, such that we end up living in service to them, the result is consumerism. When that relationship with ideas is inverted, the result is ideology or religion.

Any reasonable person wouldn’t feel liberated by a $50 fork, but constrained by it. One wouldn’t be able to help but worry: is it being cared for correctly, is my friend going to mess it up when absentmindedly tapping the table with it, is it going to get dropped or stepped on if a dance party erupts in the kitchen? After all, it is the perfect fork, what if something happened to it to make it… not perfect? The point shouldn’t be the cutlery, but the meal — and more importantly the relationships involved with preparing and sharing it.

Partisans of the worst will get 15 sets of cutlery (out of a bucket that’s an overflowing fucking sea of cutlery) for fifty cents at the neighborhood thrift shop, and as a result, won’t have the slightest reservation if five of their housemates simultaneously decide to start a band that uses nothing but spoons for instruments. Partisans of the worst won’t give a shit if someone drops a dish while people are hanging out in the kitchen. They can push their crappy bicycle to the limit without worrying if it gets scratched — without even being too concerned about it getting stolen. They can play a spontaneous game of tag in the park without worrying about their clothes getting messed up, or go for an impromptu hike without worrying about their shoes getting scuffed or dirty. Partisans of the worst will have more fun occasionally sneaking into the hot tub on the roof of a random apartment building than owning a hot tub of one’s own which is available for daily use.

The logic of the best is so pernicious because it’s poised to monopolize — an emphasis on the consumption of material goods can easily translate into a life of generalized consumption. A whole language can start to develop around not just the consumption of goods, but the consumption of experience: “We did Prague.” “We did Barcelona.”

“The best moments of my life, I never want to live again.”

Dustin Curtis also suggests that as a partisan of the best, he is taking on the hardship of truly understanding a domain in order to identify the best consumer good within that domain. Presumably, this means he now knows more about forks than any partisan of the worst ever will.

But internet research isn’t necessarily the same as understanding. No matter how much research they do, a partisan of the best might not ever know as much about motorcycles as the partisan of the worst who takes a series of hare-brained cross-country motorcycle trips on a bike that barely runs, and ends up learning a ton about how to fix their constantly breaking bike along the way. The partisan of the best will likely never know as much about sailing as the partisan of the worst who gets the shitty boat without a working engine that they can immediately afford, and has no choice but to learn how to enter tight spaces and maneuver under sail.

The best means waiting, planning, researching, and saving until one can acquire the perfect equipment for a given task. Partisans of the best will probably never end up accidentally riding a freight train 1000 miles in the wrong direction, or making a new life-long friend while panhandling after losing everything in Transnistria, or surreptitiously living under a desk in an office long after their internship has run out — simply because optimizing for the best probably does not leave enough room for those mistakes. Even if the most stalwart advocates of the worst would never actually recommend choosing to put oneself in those situations intentionally, they probably wouldn’t give them up either.

Green & Responsibility

Some amongst the best will resort to a resources perspective and say that in this increasingly disposable world, it’s refreshingly responsible for those of the best to be making quality long-term buying decisions. But we’re a long way away from a shortage of second-hand forks in the global north — let’s take care of those first.

Simplify

Hacker News could possibly be drawn to Dustin Curtis’ cutlery because it’s reminiscent of “simplify.” The makers of the cutlery took the concept to its core essentials, and nominally perfected them. But to me, “simplify” is about removing clutter — about de-emphasizing the things that are unimportant so that it’s easy to focus on the things that are. We shouldn’t be putting any emphasis on the things in our life, we should be trying to make them as insignificant as possible, so that we can focus on what’s important.

In a sense, the best gives a nod to this by suggesting that getting the very best of everything will somehow make those things invisible to us. That if we can blindly trust them, we won’t have to think about them. But the worst counters that if we’d like to de-emphasize things that we don’t want to be the focus of our life, we probably shouldn’t start by obsessing over them. That we don’t simplify by getting the very best of everything, we simplify by arranging our lives so that those things don’t matter one way or the other.

Perhaps P.O.S. said it best in their recent video: “Fuck Your Stuff”
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FY6VcJR2PE ] "
consumerism  simplicity  used  reuse  dustincurtis  pos  responsibility  possessions  theworst  knowing  understanding  green  disposability  second-hand  moxiemarlinspike 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Dymaxion: Transnationality and Performance
"…I crossed an international border to install an app on my cellphone. That wasn't the nominal purpose of the trip, but if we step back from our understanding of internationalization & international copyright law, that interaction btwn border crossing & the performance of an effectively physical act is almost surreal. More surreal is possibility…that I could have simply traded my Icelandic SIM card for my US one &…effectively, virtually, performed that border crossing…

Like everyone else, my life is bound up mostly w/ those of some few hundred other people, & lived in a specificity of place mostly across some few square km. Unlike many other people, the future is rather more heavily salted into it, & that space is split over various countries. It is unclear if transnational culture or border performance will win, or how long a compromise of ever-increasing osmotic pressure can last. I dearly hope…immediate awareness of our ultimate interconnectedness will triumph regardless."
international  global  borders  simcards  law  copyright  interconnectedness  transnationalism  transnationality  porous  porosity  future  present  eleanorsaitta  bordertown  culture  permeability  osmosis  neo-nomads  nomads  ip  intellectualproperty  vpn  translation  history  serfdom  language  jacobapplebaum  moxiemarlinspike  us  cities  interconnected  interconnectivity 
july 2011 by robertogreco

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