Friday, May 18, 2001

Freenet has improved a lot since the last time I tested it.

It now has a simple web-interface, and a system for updating information, (ie. "web"-sites). The first "web"-logs and search engines have already appeared, in the 1994-sense of the word.

Freenet is of course nothing like the Web. It is a system for efficient, scalable, anonymous, non-censorable mass-distribution of data. Distribution is driven by demand. The more people who want a piece of information, the more copies of it will be made, while information nobody cares about disappears.

Freenet is a free-speech tool designed by libertarian hackers, and along with public key communication tools like PGP, and hard disk encryption tools like Scramdisk, it is the enemy of censors, surveillors and copyright owners everywhere. It gives power to individuals at the expense of groups.

I'm willing to bet quite a lot that the first time Freenet appears on the NRK or TV2 news, it will be in connection with pedophily, terrorism or piracy. You have to be pretty much blinded by ideals not to see that Freenet is especially suitable for criminal activity. But is the alternative better? Modern technology gives power to government and companies Orwell couldn't even dream of 50 years ago, and the problem with power, even in the hands of democratically elected officials, is that it will be abused. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but next week, or next year, or next century, it will be abused.

A few examples: In Sweden last year, a group of NSP's took the law in their own hands, and shut down Flashback, an ISP with houndreds of websites, just to get at one legal neo-nazi homepage. Deep in the growing web of EU, secret plans are made to outlaw anonymity on the net, and archive all communication log files for years - a vision shared by our own �kokrim. CPRM, a potentially very intrusive copy protection technology that would in effect turn control of your hard drive over to copyright owners, was almost added to the ATA specification recently. Over the last century, our supposedly superior norwegian government has repeatedly abused its powers over ethnic minorities (romani and sami), and radical ideologies, (communism and nazism). And all over the world, political censorship, surveillance and oppression far worse than any of this takes place in countries less democratic than ours, many of which are now beeing absorbed into the net.

In all these cases, Freenet would be a tool for individuals, against oppressive institutions, mobs and companies.

I respect those who choose the side of Order over Chaos here, as long as their reasoning goes deeper than their own sex-taboos. In fact, I have a nagging fear that the future will condemn Freenet-supporters as brutally as I recently condemned Gerd-Liv "Stalin" Valla, that unrestrained by censorship and surveillance, the dark side of human nature will overthrow civilization.

Hard evidence of this will convince me that Freenet is wrong, but for now I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and I'm too much in love with the pioneering hacker spirit not to be enthusiastic about such a radical experiment.

So I'm now running a 500mb Freenet node more or less permanently, and I'm watching the birth of a new medium with curiosity and fascination.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Today is 17th of May, Norway's Constitution Day, on which we celebrate an 1814 revolution that was crushed as soon as the swedes could drag their army back from mainland Europe, and had few practical consequences except keeping jews and jesuits out of our country for a few more decades.

It is the day on which millions of norwegians spend thousands of kroner to dress up like their peasant ancestors, small children are herded around in processions, and journalists make snide remarks at foreigners.

In other words, a great excuse for me to clear out some Avernum dungeons.

Anyway, here's something I wrote a few years back: 1814 - Myte eller virkelighet? To be honest, I'm not sure who I was shooting at, all I remember is making up at least half the facts, and patching the rest together with lose fragments from my history book.

Oh, and happy birthday, Norway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Now this is just tasteless. (Thanks Fredrik.)

Life imitates Edgar Allan Poe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Only 20-25% of norwegians keep working until they're 67, the official retirement age, according to a report from NOVA. The average retirement age is 59, (56 in the public sector, and 65 excluding young disabled people.)

I'm too young to speak with authority on age, (or anything, for that matter - not that it stops me), but I don't understand what makes an otherwise healthy 65 year old decide never to work again, as long as he lives. To me that sounds like giving up, boarding a very slow cruise ship and start waiting for God. Why does permanent unemployment, which everyone agrees is unhealthy for younger people, suddenly become attractive when you turn 60?

The troubling financial side to early retirement is that norwegians now spend less than half their lives working. Children and teenagers are fed by their parents, students live off their future selves, and pensioners live on the taxes of others. Every worker is working for two - and still unions demand earlier retirement.

But I'm more concerned about the personal aspects of retirement, rather than the moral and financial. It puzzles me that retirement is something one looks forward to. Any pensioners reading this feel free to flame me, but I don't see myself making that choice until illness demands it, (and they day I'm too frail to use a computer, I'll ask someone to go find a large pillow.)

Of course, by the time I'm 65, due to improving health services and longer life expectancy, government will propably require me to keep working, unless that moneyless Star Trek society arrives sooner than scheduled. I wonder which politician will be the first to risk his job raising the retirement age.

Monday, May 14, 2001

Heh, here's a nice source of random links if I ever need one, (from NTK). Useful for all those late-night blog entries where I need some blue under-lined text to lend credibility to otherwise complete nonsense.

It's not as if anyone actually follows all these links. I bet I'd get away with at least one fake link every day - in fact I .. hm.

Rest In Peace, Douglas Adams. Heart-attack at 49, on Friday May 11, 2001.

We were pretty close once, Douglas and I. About 30 meters, to be precise. The evidence is the following passage from The Meaning of Liff:

MO I RANA: Imagine beeing on a vacation, and it's raining all the time, you are driving and the kids are making you a nervous wreck. Well you are defenitive in Mo i Rana.

I lived in Mo i Rana when this was written, (or at least published), in 1983, and the main road through that town, the road he'd be most likely to take, went right behind our house. By all propability I was at home when he drove by. By all propability I hadn't even learned to read yet, so I couldn't appreciate being close to such a great author, (but I bet it's closer than you ever were to Douglas Adams!)

This is, of course, assuming he didn't just look the name up in an atlas. What a preposterous idea!

I actually read the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as textfiles downloaded from a BBS. And if ASCII was good enough for me, then it should bloody well be good enough for you too.