Technology moves fast in today’s world, but this is not necessarily a good thing. The reliance we have on the World Wide Web and Intel CPUs is advertised by the biggest corporate marketing departments as nothing but a good thing. The fact that the biggest parts of our computer hardware, computer software, and internet functionality is provided by monopolies is glossed over, if it is mentioned at all.
Here I want to address the 2018 Hackaday Prize submission criteria of “Building Hope”, and why my competition entry does build hope. The category of the competition I am entering is Open Hardware, and I want to show how my open hardware design builds hope.
My open hardware entry is an internet-enabled 8-bit portable computer. I am aiming for my design to be as low cost as possible, and I want it to avoid many of the devastating problems I can see with most contemporary internet-enabled portable devices. The two main problems I want my 8-bit computer to address are (a) the devastating privacy and security problems of HTTP (the World Wide Web) as the main platform for internet connectivity; and (b) the devastating security problems of modern Intel CPUs, which can be found in the vast majority of internet-connected consumer devices today.
HTTP: Bad for Privacy, Because of Bad Politics
Many modern devices are designed just to go on the web. We call low end lean terminals with operating systems based on Chrome “netbooks”. This is a terrible way to use computers, and a terrible way to use the internet. HTTP is an inefficient and insecure method of information distribution. The shift to using cloud computing in order to be productive and useful presents a scary prospect for information safety and privacy.
This article (https://www.w3.org/Protocols/HTTP-NG/http-prob.html) by Simon E Spero shows that HTTP is a slow and inefficient internet protocol. Most of the time, HTTP is waiting. The slow start to HTTP connections hurts performance, and slows down the Round Trip Time (RTT). HTTP is also a highly centralised protocol. This means that all HTTP data is stored in a centralised server, and all clients must negotiate with the central server 100% of the time in order to establish connections and distribute data.
USENET is entirely different. NNTP is a much more horizontal method of information distribution. Servers synchronise messages and data with other servers, and this means that users can connect to their local server in order to access data. NNTP spreads...Read more »