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Re: [freehaven-dev] an abstract

On Mon, 28 Feb 2000, Roger R Dingledine wrote:

> ---
> The Internet is growing at an unprecedented rate. 

This is true, but I don't think it's the main focus of the project.
It might be better to start the abstract with something which clearly
declares what the freehaven project is all about. Something like
"protecting data in a persistent, anonymous, and private manner is 
a critical problem", 

or maybe

"We introduce the freehaven : a service for providing persistent, secure,
and anonymous distributed data storage and retreival robust against the
attempts of powerful adversaries to remove data from the service.
Freehaven fills a critical need in current Internet practice by
providing <stuff>..."

The first sentence after the colon (the "a service providing ...")is
what I've been telling people I'm doing for my CS91r. It seems to work
(your mileage may vary).

>However, while technical
> advances are providing greatly increased bandwidth and well-connected
> storage capacity, support for privacy and anonymity on the Internet is
> largely unchanged. Commercial enterprises as well as free software projects

Unchanged since when? This seems to almost contradict the next sentence,
which is that things are changing. Part of the confusion I have may
be because freehaven is offering a different kind of privacy and
anonymity than ZKS and compnay (but I don't know that when I'm
reading the abstract). 

Maybe recast by talking about the ZKS and other anonymity systems
first as examples that anonymity is important, then say "we apply these
systems to create distributed storage providing anonymity
for both publisher and viewer." or "we extend this idea to provide
anonymity for both publisher and viewer."  

> are hoping to help solve this problem: examples include Zero Knowledge
> Systems, a company building its own closed-source private network
> of low-latency mixnets, and the Freenet project, a group of Internet

I'm not sure how I like this part :

1) the examples are "too crowded" in one sentence. 
2) the "closed-source" and "mixnets" may or may not be familiar
to a potential reader (depends on the audience).

It might be better to either give fewer explicit comparisons in the
abstract, or maybe break this up over several sentences. The "give fewer
examples" is probably not a good idea for a project talk abstract,
though, since people might be looking for keywords (i.e. they've heard
of freenet or mixmaster,so now they'll come to freehaven). 

For the closed source and mix-nets, maybe just emphasise that we're
open source "Open source is a key design requirement" or even "Freely
available source code is a key design feature of freehaven" , and refer
to anonymous channels?

> programmers designing a network that will duplicate frequently retrieved
> information and thus make it difficult to delete information. Most
> current works suffer either from closed or unfinished source. More
> importantly, though, their designs sacrifice anonymity for accessibility.

Our source isn't finished either..or do you mean not all of someone else's
source is released yet?

"Most current works" sounds a bit vague. Maybe rephrase as "freehaven
distinguishes itself from other persistent storage systems by using an
open source model" ? It's not that much more precise, but it does make
it clear we are comparing to freenet and not to , say, mixmaster. 

The "more importantly, though" seems a little too weak to be in
the abstract. Maybe something like just saying "Freehaven chooses
anonymity over accessibility" ? (although we want both...)

> The Free Haven Project aims to design and deploy a system which uses a
> secure mixnet for communication, and which emphasizes distributed, reliable,
> and anonymous storage over efficient retrieval. Some of the problems we

I like this part. It's true. It's also a good way to explain some of why
we do what we do. 

> address include providing sufficient accountability without sacrificing
> anonymity, building trust between servers based entirely on their observed
> behavior, and providing user interfaces that will make the system usable for
> end-users.

I like this ending, too.