The Hacker Lounge had slowly become reminiscent (reek) of a CSC where everyone speaks German. Why is it that I’ve come here?
Oh yes, because there was a nice talk on free software and anarchy in the evening. The short answer is that free software tends to be developed in a somewhat anarchist way; however, the software itself isn’t in general an anarchist technology. For anarchists, the most important consequence of free software is that it illustrates that people don’t necessarily need financial motivations to be productive.
At the end of the talk there was lively discussion about whether the GPL is good, a weapon for the free software community, or bad, coercion through threats. I still believe the second, although I have been waffling on the issue lately.
At the end of the day there was a lively discussion about the web of trust. I disagreed with the first half of the talk. I think the email address in a PGP id is just a GUID, much like the date and place of birth on a passport. Thus it doesn’t need to be verified. The speaker felt that some attempt to verify the email address should be made.
I was then surprised when I agreed with the second half of his talk. Social names are as valid, or more valid, than government issued ID. From this soft of reasoning, I find the whole key signing party idea ridiculous, yet the speaker still seems in favour of it. I should talk with him about it.
My colleague seems to think that a key with some signatures on it is somehow more valid than a key with no signatures on it, even with you have no connections to any of the the signatures. This really bothers me and makes me want to write a program to duplicate a section of the “web of trust” and upload a faked network of keys to the key severs.
Hackers often complain about traffic analysis, and things like Orkut, because government and corporations are going to make people guilty by association. Yet hackers are also building this giant database, the “web of trust”, themselves. The speaker even wanted to extend the idea of the web of trust with address and phone numbers to create a great shared address book. He practically said it himself:
“… will make it easy to track people that you want to keep in contact with.” I will update it with the exact quote when the recording becomes available.
I should give a talk next year on why you shouldn’t go to key signing parties, and how pet names is the semantics to have.
I will post about the last, and most important day later.