Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Possible Good Uses for Local Proxy

Author:Paul Snively
Posted:9/15/1999; 11:49:11 AM
Topic:New Third Voice version out
Msg #:11069 (In response to 11039)
Prev/Next:11068 / 11070

Frankly, I see the whole "local proxy server" idea as the most obvious incarnation of the "fractional HTTP server" idea that Dave has talked about here many, many times.

As others have pointed out, perhaps the most obvious application of a local proxy is as an advertising/smut (is that redundant or what?) filtering system. Another neat use might be to capture online credit-card transactions LOCALLY and automagically process them through Quicken et al for bookkeeping/tax purposes. Other uses that have been/are being developed are intelligent browsing assistants: agents that build a profile of your surfing patterns over time and start adding, e.g. framed links to other sites you might be interested in.

Of course, online critiques have also been done responsibly, as with the Crit suite. See <>.

Local proxies can be a good thing, and I think to focus on Third Voice installing a local proxy utterly misses the point: the only problem with Third Voice is that their posters can't be held accountable for what they say.

What we need to develop is a very simple digital-signature-based "reputation server:" I establish my identity on the server by having it generate a signature. Whenever I say something online, I have to provide my signature. Anyone else who wishes to comment on their interaction with me may do so via the reputation server--the hitch is, they have to sign their comment. I cannot alter or repudiate my reputation--it's protected by all the commenters' digital signatures. My digital reputation follows me around. The system doesn't have to be forced down anyone's throat--if it works, people will just gradually expect everyone to use it and refuse to interact online with anyone who doesn't.

I first came up with this idea after getting royally pissed off at eBay for claiming that their users weren't allowed to cite their eBay ratings on other sites--that they, eBay, somehow "owned" the reputations of their auctioneers.

It's time to stop sales venues, publishers, content providers, and other commercial interests from staking claims to rights that aren't theirs. Conversely, it's also time to stop, e.g. brand theft online (see question #10 in the exam I posted a link to earlier in this thread). The only way to do it is with technology such as unforgeable digital pseudonyms, bidirectional typed filterable links, electronic rights transfer protocols, etc.

The technology is coming but needs help. <> is an excellent place to begin learning about both the issues and the technology.

Paul Snively

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