The new year blog post

This is probably the only time I really post meta stuff about the ol’e blog itself. What’s emerging as somewhat of an annual thing, I break out the paint buckets and spackle and DIY up a new blog. Actually, it’s a bit more of an Ikea analogy than a Grand Designs one. We’re running on the newly revamped WordPress 3.8 and this time around actually using the default theme it came with, TwentyFourteen. It’s an  extendible and minimalist piece of work, though I’ve cluttered it up some here.

“Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”  — Edward Snowden, on the Guardian website

In keeping with this year’s theme, of LOCK IT DOWN, I’ve  HTTPSed the site, added an encrypted contact form and an IRC chat channel, thus far, and am tinkering with some other experiments that may or may not add more realms of anonymous interaction. All this is actually just me tinkering with how these things can be used for projects elsewhere, but fun all the same.

Encryption isn’t just important, it’s kind of satisfying and fun. Even for casual correspondence; it’s about making things personal again, analogous to putting a message in an actual envelope that you know no one else is going to steam open to peek at what’s inside. We’ve become used to fabulous tools to communicate with others nearly anywhere in the world. They’re easy to use and sometimes addicting. We now need just as intuitive and enjoyable methods of making sure our messages are solely available to their intended recipients.

This is a UX solution and a technical one.  Designers, interface architects and user experience specialists are key to winning the battle. I’d love to see an internet that’s cluttered with random-looking ASCII speeding through networks and only making sense when they arrive at a recipient’s device, off a network. That happens when people can do it easily and feel that it’s doing something for them. From a technical perspective, we need better ways to install encryption kit, and also more ways to let internet communication services forget what’s happened. I personally like the XMPP developers’ list of New Year resolutions. From the world of corporate behemoths, it’s something to see Google taking encryption more seriously in search and mobile. Privacy can be a selling point.

2013 was an amazing year when it comes to bringing online and mobile privacy issues to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Let’s make 2014 the year of solutions.

So, banging on about privacy, encryption and how easy it can actually be (or not) to keep governments out of your data will continue. This year I’m continuing my role with Rory Peck Trust, and just one of the many interesting bits of the work involves innovating with developers and other partners on ways that help freelance journos protect their ability to communicate privately and discretely when necessary in the field. Some text dumps on this site will be from the research and other bits coming out of that, for better or worse.

Happy New Year!