The cryptographic-spiritual realm

Internet services and systems such as Google and Amazon usually appear to us as a visual representation of a page, as if it were taken out of some kind of printed publication. For almost all of the users, these visual qualities are all that will ever be seen. They are always present and never present, because we cannot point to the place where they really reside.

But of course they reside somewhere. Cables and machines embody the apparition that users interact with, and these cables can be found and cut. The machines can be shut off. Traceroute tells me which path the data is taking. But the thread that binds the body to the spirit is thin, and the two evolve in a largely independent manner.

With cryptographic methods, such as the I2P network, it is possible to hide the exact location of a system, disperse it across the fabric so widely that it cannot be excised without destroying the fabric itself.

The effect is the same as if the system had no physical existence at all. It now exists in a kind of spiritual realm, where it can only be touched with great difficulty.

Category: Computer science, Philosophy | Tags: , , 3 comments »

3 Responses to “The cryptographic-spiritual realm”

  1. Christian

    read this today
    http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/best-media-apps-for-the-ipad/

    the first paragraphs reminded me of your first ones

    the rest is not very related though

  2. Johan

    Yeah, that looks like a review of ipad newspaper apps, and I don’t even have an ipad.

    Ipads/kindles are an exercise in giving the web and newspapers false bodies. To continue the analog, web services are like spirits or demons that take possession of the ipad “body” for a short time. Maybe I’m stretching it here though!

  3. Johan

    (web services here not in the software engineering sense, but a service delivered over the web to a human user)


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