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Re: Eternity Services
hAt 12:49 AM 1/12/98 EST, Ryan Lackey wrote:
>[Tim May wrote:]
>> I am surprised, I have to admit, that Ryan is talking so much about raising
>> money, getting investors, etc., when no _working model_ of his scheme has
>> been deployed for people to play with, find weaknesses in, etc.
>No working model has been deployed by me as of yet. However, most of the
>components are "solved problems", with existing working models. Worst case,
>it would be possible to accomplish equivalent functionality by linking
>these by remailers and hoping no one shuts down the remailers.
My guess is that the technical aspects are relatively solvable,
at least if the market comes through with reasonable digicash.
The technical design can be fun, and lots of pieces exist.
The "Don't Quit Your Day Job" (or in this case, school) criteria are
harder - doing the business plan that makes a reasonable case that
1 - Service Providers using your model can make money
2 - You personally can make money
3 - Potential investors (including you) can make money
funding the development
Three obvious business models for you and your investors are
2a - Operate the service yourself, hiring people or renting space
in as many countries as you need for safety/reliability
2b - Sell/license the software to commercial providers
2c - Freeware, perhaps with some way for you to get advertising revenue
or at least sufficient fame to get consulting business.
Which combinations of these options can achieve wide usage depends
a lot on your models of users of the system; some of those models
are moneymakers, some aren't, some are safe, some are dangerous,
and some just attract a sleazy clientele. Here are a few models
- public, permanant, non-controversial - the archive business
for URLs for academic papers, news services,
and possibly for contracts, wills, court documents, etc.,
which may have some privacy (e.g. an encrypted document
showing the owners and keyids) or may not be indexed.
This model is easy, and the only reason you need
to franchise the business rather than running it yourself
is to increase the confidence of the users that the
service will be permanent. The obvious financial model
is that computers and storage become cheaper every year,
so the cost of 100 years of storage is probably only
25-100% higher than 5 years of storage. The costs of retrieval
are different from the costs of storage; you may do something
like advertising banners to handle frequent-retrieval vs.
occasional-retrieval material, or charge directly per hit, etc.
- public, permanent, controversial - political manifestos,
samizdata, Singaporean chewing-gum recipes,
formerly secret documents of governments and businesses.
Spreading across multiple jurisdictions is
critical here, but governments do cooperate enough
that few places are safe for everything. For instance,
a Finnish court might order a server to stop publishing
copyrighted Scientology documents based on a US court order;
anything copyrighted needs to be hosted by non-Berne-convention
locations. I don't know how cooperative governments are about
libel suits from other jurisdictions; "libel against governments"
is clearly a different case from regular personal libel.
- non-indexed semi-public medium-term controversial -
porn servers, warez, credit reporting services, and the like.
By "non-indexed semi-public", I mean things that you can
retrieve if you know the name and maybe have a password,
but can't retrieve if you don't, and maybe they're encrypted.
Some of them may be revenue generators for the storage customer
(e.g. they've got advertising banners, or they require digicash
to be collected somehow, or maybe there's a password-of-the-month
needed to decrypt them, which is sold separately from distribution.)
Here you need to worry about attacks, since pictures that are
legal in LA or Paris may be illegal in Memphis, Tokyo, or Riyadh,
and transaction data that's legal in Anguilla may violate
data privacy laws in Berlin or fair credit reporting in Washington,
and warez that are gray-market in Beijing may get you jailed in
Redmond (while the porn that's legal in Redmond may get you
jailed in Beijing.)
You also have to worry about targeted attacks - the government
that can't stop you from publishing the Anti-Great-Satan Manifesto
can go plant child porn and stolen Microsoft warez on your server
to get you shut down in your home country.
- non-indexed semi-public medium-term non-controversial -
encrypted corporate backups and the like. If you've implemented
things right, a subpoena for all your files worldwide still
won't let anybody find a useful piece of non-indexed data,
but can still let anybody with the name and password recover it.
Indexing becomes the job of the user; the index for a user
is just another data file. This may be where you make the
legitimate money, if you can convince enough businesses to
use your services, and where you provide the cover traffic
for the controversial material.
Bill Stewart, [email protected]
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