When I was younger, around my early twenties, I had the good fortune to live in a rather large house, by the Pacific ocean. It was just my brother and I for a month. Then, he moved to Delaware and I had the house to myself. It was around the same time my friend Ian introduced me to books.
The house had a basement level, where I chose to life. It didn’t have any windows, which meant the light was whatever I generated. It was a pretty exclusive neighborhood and so there was very little outside noise, except for the occasional yard maintenance crew. I read voraciously. I read everything I could get my hands on, mostly Fantasy novels.
I also read Ender’s Game. I remember it specifically because it was the first book I read start to finish in a 24hr period. This made me so excited that, later that day, when I ran into an ex-girlfriend at the local junior college, she asked me my name, because it had been a while. All I could tell her about was how I’d just read a 300+ page book in 24 hours.
In this phase of forced vacation, where there’s very little for me to do, I find myself returning to that schedule that is largely indifferent to sunlight. I stay up late into the night, reading in the peaceful silence. My only regret with this way of life is that I have beautiful wife, who lays in bed, where I could be but am not.
* * *
Last week I contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They’re basically the ACLU for digital rights. I asked them if they wanted to partner with me, if I could put a website at the end of my movie to direct people to them. Otherwise the movie just leaves people on a cliff of uncertainty.
ALGORITHM is designed to reveal the mind of a hacker. A natural subset of that is the forefront of where society is now at, with the governments of the world slowly trying to reign in the freedom that the Internet provides. This, naturally leads to conflict where the hacker ideal, “Information should be free,” comes into conflict with standard ways of living and notions of privacy.
Thus, a partnership with the EFF is perfect. I was excited at the possibility. They’re a major voice in the tech world and if they support ALGORITHM, it will really help spread the word. That said, they are a MAJOR voice in technology and I assumed that meant they would be hard to reach.
I was pleasantly surprised when I sent an initial email requesting a partnership and got forwarded to their “Head of Activism”. Yes, that’s her actual title. They’re that kind of organization. I emailed her and got a response saying it should be fairly easy and that she wanted to talk next Tuesday. I’ve got high hopes. I have no idea where this will lead, but it’s promising!
* * *
I’m fastidious about backing up my data. I’ve always been that way. I’ve never had a hard drive crash that costs me data. The more important the data, the more places I back it up. One of the great technologies that’s come out recently is something called BitTorrent Sync. It’s basically Dropbox, but with no central server. It’s all over a highly encrypted network.
It works basically like this: I run BTS, and I give it a folder. It then generates a “secret” string of numbers and letters. It’s long and nasty and very hard to guess. It’s part of the encryption key for all the data in the folder. I then run BTS on another machine, while the first machine is still running. I tell BTS I have a “Secret” and it asks for a folder. The moment I share the folder, the two start syncing. Depending on the size of the folder and the number of computers sharing the folder, this can happen very quickly or very slowly.
It works from anywhere on the Internet. It’s one of the possible methods of distribution I have for digital downloads. The best thing about it, as I implied above, is that the more computers sharing the file, the faster they share it. So, it scales amazingly well.
I bring this up now because I was having trouble with one of the connected machines. I bought a Raspberry Pi as a prop for ALGORITHM. Actually, I bought two. One of them got destroyed when Bitchan soldered it to a wire. But, the other one works just fine.
I loaded a version of Linux onto the Raspberry Pi and installed BTS. I also bought a 2TB external hard drive to store all my documents. The problem is, the external drive keeps putting itself to sleep, which means, when the install of BTS on the Raspberry Pi tries to access it, it crashes. Thus, the sync is lost.
I was up in my closet, trying to repair it. As I was stepping off the stool, I landed wrong and either sprained or broke my foot.
* * *
The thing I find out about making a movie, a good movie, is that it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s easily the longest thing I’ve ever worked on. My beard can’t be shaved. I don’t like that, but it’s part of the project.
I find I’ve undergone some major personality changes during this project. I don’t view the government the same way I did before. I’m not hostile or an activist, but I’m definitely more informed. I know more about computer security than I did before. I know more about what hackers can do. I know more about how far I can push myself, and when I need a break. I know I can withstand far more consistent work, withstand far more stress without quitting than I would have ever believed possible.
I’m also finding out that I’m not the smartest guy in the room anymore. Maybe I changed rooms. I don’t know. It’s strange. I felt a moral obligation to use my mind to help make the world better. As such, I placed a great deal of value on my mind. No longer being the smartest guy in the room may be one of the things that’s bringing on this questioning of my identity. I don’t know.
What I do know is that making ALGORITHM has changed me. I hope it’s effective. I hope it makes money. But, more than making me a lot of money, I hope it makes a difference. I didn’t get into making movies to make money. I know money’s a part of it. This stuff costs money and if I want to keep doing it, I’ve got to make money.
My motivation is to make great art. Art that changes people. Art that helps us be better humans. And don’t ask me what “better humans” means because I don’t have the answer. For me, we’re better when we’re asking questions, way more than when we have the answers. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten.