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Proposal HN: Build this with me;
2 points by samstave on June 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments
Very disturbing information has come to light in the last two days. The situation with respect to the NSA's data creep and the complicity of some of the biggest names in tech to subvert any trust in the idea of informational freedom has been an eye opening revelation for most, and a confirmation of the suspicions of others.

A modest proposal, and, if interested, contact me to participate, contribute, critique or…


"The 'black box' recorder for your life": Every modern aircraft has a black box, every household should as well. A resilient and feature rich appliance that serves to capture and host your digital life.

This device would be based on the open designs of something like the BackBlaze storage systems and provide a high capacity, fault tolerant storage system with an Application Suite providing you with the basic services you have come to rely on from multiple parties -- but 100% owned and controlled by you:

"Facebook in a box" -- but without the one-dimensional vertical column, and focused primarily on you and your family. With the ability to share out exactly what you want with other parties using the same system -- or through the web portal hosted on the appliance.

Starting with a picture and file repository, the device will house your important content. It would provide an internal, multi-user life management system (profile, calendar, contacts, messaging, blog etc). An external view provides a public facing site - you control what information is presented.

An evolved data access policy allows you to share limited information with the world at large - and specific information with friends and groups; link up with other families and households and share out information relevant to only that connection through the assignment of data tags and subscribers.

There is a lot more to this - but given the events of the past day - I wanted to field this out there to HN and see what type of input you might have...


The pain point of your solution is data security. Not in the sense of it being vulnerable to surveillance or digital theft, but what happens if someone breaks in and steals your little black box, or if the house burns down?

Syncing it to a CloudBased service kind of breaks the concept.

One possible solution I can think of is to allow people to store encrypted copies of oneanothers black boxes.

Imagine that your blackbox would automaticly sync all it's data to my blackbox where it was encrypted with a key that only you had - and of course I would do the same the other way.

That solution is, however, only possible if all partipitants have really solid internet connections.

Provide multiple ways for people to choose to push encrypted blobs to other services...

Dump an encrypted blob to a dropbox account, pay this service for an AWS box to push a blob to.

There are many many ways to devise secure backup - the issue is bandwidth. You'd likely have to have several blobs: pics, files, info. Pics and files are going to be huge.

The service can exist in multiple modes: a physical appliance, a physical appliance which is disaster ready (a true black box), a VM, and a hosted service (obviously the least appealing given the mission of this type of service).

They are all valid options, but I feel like it defeats the purpose to rely on and have to trust third party commercial services with your data.

Otherwise, you might aswell just provide a service like facebook, or whatever else you're trying to replace, and offer people to encrypt their files on upload, if they do not with them to be public.

But I might just have missed the idea :-)

How to route the thing? Through a peer-to-peer network? If so it's slightly better, but using a peer to peer architecture for just "facebook" seems strange.

It'd be very hard to maintain without a central location somewhere. Surprisingly facebook has a huge amount of data associated with it. So eventually even if this got large it'd have problems.

Batman peer to peer tried to do free wifi for all mobiles which would be awesome, but I don't know really what came of that because peer-to-peer networks are hard to maintain for connectivity.

Again, Calling it "facebook in a box" is limiting the idea completely. Facebook is a very very one dimentional ego-feed.

You cant have child accounts, household calendars, information regarding what you have, own, household rolodex, a self-styled/branded blog, etc...

There is so much lacking in the disjointed "cloud" services that are available to people.

They SEEM "MASSIVE" only because many others use them, they are not massive because of what they offer you.

Gmail is a sliver of functionality, as is facebook and twitter and any other service. And they are all compromised.

The point isnt to duplicate with they offer - its to pull back from their entire offering model.

HAve an appliance for your house and online presence that is YOURS. Features and services which you can pick and choose from - but in the end that you actually control all access to and from.

Had to really scale back what i wrote due to the 2,000 character limit...

This is a long time coming and was formulating even prior to this current state of things, but it feels really urgent and important now.

Let's redefine the state of the way services are used.

I think the main strange issue I have with your idea is that you can do all that stuff you are saying on a peer-to-peer network and it'd at least be a bit more encrypted. Developing a whole new "facebook" appliance almost seems silly.

using the analogy of "facebook in a box" is a misnomer, really - but it serves to start the thought process.

The issue is that I dont need to share everything with everyone - What I need is a way to have a set of features and services that act as a life-log (pics and posts mostly) that are organized not only for me - but also for members of my family.

There will always be "facebook" where people can connect with their friends - but there is the need to have a familial or household based digital presence.

Tent in a box? (https://tent.io/)

Yes - sort of...

How many pics have you taken from your phone? (I have nearly 10,000 pics from 2007 till now)...

What do you do with them?

Do you have kids? What do you do with the pics and info and data they have created or been the subject of?

How do you keep track of all this, post it, keep it connected into a tree of info that is singularly "you"/"your family"

Right now - there is an internal "project kid" in FB which is a wasteland and no action is taken. FB is a ridiculously simple vertical column. Pretty much all aspects of the system is focused on one thing - feedign the ADHD ego of a singular user.

There is no larger cohesiveness of purpose for something like FB, where a family can use it as a full portal for their online lives.

Host your own life - allow others to subscribe to it - if they want a feed of public info, they can subscribe to what you publish and see it - but in the end - your appliance is yours and the data on it is yours.

This is only a small fraction of what this proposal is about... but at least it gets the thought-ball rolling.

We already created the technology for everything you're describing, though some of the apps aren't finished yet. It's called Tent: https://tent.io https://github.com/tent

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