The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Trusting information

Spinning swarm sensing from gossip

Context: I am writing this from inside Australia, where it is illegal for companies to sell encryption without spyware, and where it is illegal to confess to the spyware. Private information, possibly including private cryptographic keys, is sytematically exposed by an unaccountable state surveillance apparatus without public oversight, protected by jail terms for those who resist it.. [No worries, mate](].

The flip side to filter bubbles is the problem of verifying that the information you have is good. If we got to design all the agents in society we might be able to ensure the overall system acquires good information. But when we are dealing with the practicalities of real people, Do you do this by some kind of social trust graph?

Raw technical details

Ignoring the problems of rhetoric and factual accuracy, let’s just work out if we are receiving real information here. Is the message you for from me really from me?

Web of Trust (sigh).



Notary aims to make the internet more secure by making it easy for people to publish and verify content. We often rely on TLS to secure our communications with a web server, which is inherently flawed, as any compromise of the server enables malicious content to be substituted for the legitimate content.

With Notary, publishers can sign their content offline using keys kept highly secure. Once the publisher is ready to make the content available, they can push their signed trusted collection to a Notary Server.

Consumers, having acquired the publisher’s public key through a secure channel, can then communicate with any Notary server or (insecure) mirror, relying only on the publisher’s key to determine the validity and integrity of the received content.


Farrell, Henry, and Bruce Schneier. 2018. “Common-Knowledge Attacks on Democracy.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3273111. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.