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Sunday, March 02, 2003

Class snobbery on the Web via digital i.d.?
Disenchanted argues that classism is heading for the internet, partly as a response to leveling search and discovery teachnologies:

    One such tool is the digital identity, or the electronic signature. With Public Key Cryptography you can create an electronic key that cannot be forged, and that establishes the identity part. But these keys can also be signed by someone else, and the goal is the transference of trust: if I trust Charles, and Charles signs Vyvian's key, then I can now trust that Vyvian is who Charles says he is. If Vyvian then signs Reginald's key then Reginald is indirectly trusted, but not as much as Vyvian. If it turns out that Reginald has plans to spoil the party by signing Bubba's key, then everybody can punish Reginald by setting their software to distrust Reginald's key and any key signed with it.

    The only limit on digital classes is how far they can scale, because after a certain point it becomes impossible to guarantee the... er... quality of a person with a signed key. It's not like your butler can't trace the naughty fellow who let the riff-raff join, but that as you get closer to the base of the pyramid there simply aren't enough butlers to keep up. The most effective digital classes won't grow much larger than a few thousand members.

:: posted by Bryan, 5:07 PM |

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