This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

It looks like the mainstream media is beginning to question President Bush on the Iraq War, but I'm angry that they aren't talking about their own role in the leadup to that war. Where was a strong, independent press when Bush was making his claims about WMD? Where was the press when analysts across the spectrum predicted disaster and problems in post-war Iraq? The press failed to present anti-war views in any way. They are as complicit in this war as the president. They've done a lousy job. After watching how the mainstream media acted like sharks in bloody water when it came to Howard Dean in December 2003, I'm disgusted.

Wow, the tide is turning. MSNBC - Poll: Public: "A majority of Americans believe President Bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll."

Found a really cool paper by way of Astrobiology Magazine on a hypothesis for a new kind of planet called an "Ocean-Planet". From the paper's abstract: "A new family of planets is considered which is in between rocky terrestrial planets and gaseous giant ones: “Ocean-Planets”. We present the possible formation, composition and internal models of these putative planets, including that of their ocean, as well as their possible Exobiology interest. These planets should be detectable by planet detection missions as Eddington and Kepler, and possibly COROT (launch scheduled in 2006)."

Zooko's Spectrum, not Zooko's Law

A problem I have always had with Zookos Law (decentralization, security, human-memorizable, pick two) is that he doesn't define what he means by those three terms. What does he mean by security? Security to me is a spectrum, from completely open to completely militarily locked down. What does he mean by human-memorizable? That goes all the way from extremely human friendly, such as "Brad Neuberg" to "" to short identifiers like Compuserve used to have such as "" all the way to 128-bit hashes. That sure looks like a spectrum to me.

Decentralization is also itself a spectrum. Systems such as Napster and Bittorrent are hybrid decentralized, while systems such as Gnutella are much more decentralized. Systems are a complex collection of pieces; some pieces can be centralized, while the rest are decentralized, as Napster and Bittorrent have shown. Bittorrents trackers are relatively centralized, while the content streaming is decentralized. The goal is not to be religious on whether to centralize or decentralize, but to identify what your political, social, and business goals are in order to decentralize the bits that achieve these goals.

I agree that at their extreme, you can't have all three qualities, but that is an extreme statement. If each of these three qualities, decentralization, security, and human-friendly names, are a spectrum, then perhaps we can have all three if we slightly relax them.

Call it Zooko's Spectrum, not Zooko's Law. You don't have to throw out all three, you just have to slightly relax one of them. So you can have human-friendly names and security, but you have to slightly relax the degree of decentralization in your system (but not throw it completely out). Or perhaps you can demand extreme decentralization and extreme security without throwing out human-friendliness, but slightly relax the human-friendly part (by having names that are short numerical GUIDs the length of phone-numbers but not the 128-bit GUIDs of FreeNet).

The end result is you can have your cake and eat it too, if you decide to use carrot cake instead of flour. Decentralization, Security, Human-Friendly Names: a nuanced spectrum of choices that can't all be had 100% but can slightly be had if you slightly relax one of them.

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