Hindsight is 2022

A recap of this blog and its author in 2022

I’ve had a couple people ask me if I would do a yearly recap blog post like I did for 2021 and 2020 previously.

Unfortunately, the year opened the same way it closed: Twitter.

Twitter's bird icon rotated to appear on its back with a black X over where its eyes are to indicate death
Twitter is dead to me
(My poor edit of their bird logo)

I started the year by writing a guide to removing that dumb Spaces feature (since its design is plagued by user-hostile dark patterns that force you to annoy your followers if you join one) and ended with me leaving Twitter after I was suspended for criticizing their technical competence after firing their security staff.

Along the way, I had proposed ways to counter misinformation on platforms like Twitter, criticized the current social norms around callouts (and discussed the risk for them being appropriated to spread malicious lies without offering any real mitigation mechanism for victims), and even wrote an experimental post (with a parody of A Mathematician’s Lament in the opening) about the Puriteen scourge on Furry Twitter.

At one point, I used my meager furry Twitter audience to spearhead a spiteful fundraising campaign to save a library from a homophobic mayor’s bigotry. This was covered in the mainstream media and I had a lot of conversations with journalists, despite me not doing really any of the real work.

There were like thousands of people who contributed to that. Many, if not most, of them were furries, but not all. This was a community effort, and the credit for it should be shared by us all.

But no matter how you slice it, 2022 was Twitter, Twitter, and more Twitter.

UGH sticker
Art: CMYKat

In retrospect, the frustrations of social media and the culture of conspiracy and falsehood that runs rampant online were probably why I did precisely zero of the experimental things I wanted to do with this blog in 2022.

But 2022 feels like a year of experimentation, to me. Future blog posts may include some of my own sketches and diagrams, just to spice things up.

I’d also like to add some video content to the fold, now that I have a partial fursuit and a webcam. (Don’t worry; they’ll never be autoplayed, and watching them will never be essential to understanding the writing that the videos accompany.)

For Your Infurmation (2021 Recap)

I could still do those things in 2023, but I’m unlikely to have the free time or energy for that.

One of the things that came out of my decision to shitcan Twitter was an increased focused on the Fediverse.

One of the more pronounced problems with federated social media, which is also true of traditional social media, is that server operators can read any messages you send. This problem is abstracted away by large tech companies and centralized platforms, but it’s a very obvious threat when anyone can run their own server.

The obvious solution to this problem is end-to-end encryption! But it’s not trivial, and the prior efforts of the Mastodon community left a lot to be desired.

So I opened 2023 with the intent of working towards a proposal and specification for end-to-end encryption for the Fediverse.

Confused protogen
“What do you mean I can’t read their DMs anymore?”

Art: Harubaki

That work isn’t done yet, and I make no apologies for that:  I don’t want to set a bad example by working 24/7 on tech stuff instead of taking a break. Too many junior engineers and aspiring engineers read this blog, and that would be irresponsible. If you don’t value your own time, nobody in business will either.

Despite all of the problems caused by or involving Twitter in 2022, I don’t really have much else to say about the past year.

2022 was more-or-less peaceful. My closest friends are doing great. I spend a fair bit of my downtime decompressing from work (my job became way more demanding in 2022; the peril of specialized and high-demand skills), which mostly involved playing video games or watching YouTube in the living room with said friends.

When I feel like I don’t have anything interesting to say, I simply don’t write anything.

Sometimes when I do have an interesting thing to talk about, I spin off one of my tangential points into a whole separate blog post and get that out the door first.

2022 Weirdness

One of the unexpected things that happened since I started writing here in 2020 is someone at work cited one of my blog posts in a cryptography discussion, and asked me for my opinion.

Awkward.

I think I said something to the tune of, “I know the author. If you want an endorsement, maybe ask someone else who isn’t biased instead? Happy to help explain anything that doesn’t make sense, of course.”

Almost equally as awkward, I was also asked by a few people (seemingly unprompted) if I was SwiftOnSecurity.

Tay doesn’t do self-promotion, so this isn’t really a smoking gun.

Put simply: Nope, it’s someone else. I don’t even know their real identity, nor do I care to ask.

If that sounds strange to you, consider: I’m a furry. I barely remember my ex-boyfriend’s legal names, and I certainly didn’t address them that way during our relationships.

If that’s how I approach romance, do you think I know any of my online friends by anything other than their online handle?

Hell no.

Predictions for 2023

Outside a few posts I already planned to write (many have been in rough draft hell for a while), I’m probably going to be mostly quiet here for at least the first half of the year.

I’m focusing more on bringing end-to-end encryption to the Fediverse, which involves more research than I anticipated due to friends tipping me off about interesting crypto papers that I have to understand and carefully consider before I commit to a specific strategy.

Most of the structure I had in mind is unchanged; it’s the small details like, “How do you do threshold secret sharing in a cryptosystem designed in 2023 while supporting mobile platforms and Javascript running in a browser extension? Does your answer change if there are newer schemes than Shamir’s that have compelling properties?” I still have reading to do before I’m confident about my answers, and then I still need to find time to write.

One step removed from my blog, on sites like Hacker News, Reddit, and Lobsters, I received much less anti-furry ignorance in 2022 than in years prior. I expect this will increase in 2023, due to the proliferation of falsehoods by right-wing media outlets and politicians. This sort of behavior casts ripples that manifest months or years later as increased hostility and prejudice. It just hasn’t happened yet.

In terms of political predictions, I don’t expect anything good to happen for at least the next two years. Time will tell if we can expect good things afterwards, but I’m expecting things to get much worse before they get better. Willful ignorance has too strong a root in America for it to turn out any better.

Goals for 2023

Although I’m probably going to blog less for at least the first half of the year, I do hope that people continue to find my writing helpful and informative.

I still don’t have my dhole fursuit. I have no idea what’s happening with that. At this point I feel like I’m at a complete loss. I wanted to have it in 2022 so I could enjoy it in 2023.

I’ve thrown about $15,000 and waited about 6 years into the dark abyss of fursuit makers, and still have nothing to show for it. I don’t know if I’ll try a third time.

The first maker I commissioned just ran off with the money. The second had a bunch of other pandemic-related troubles (partly due to owning and operating a pet store in Illinois) and had to grapple with local government corruption in 2022, so maybe they’ll get around to responding to my months old request for a status update sometime in 2023.

I don’t really have a lot of hope, though. It’s not like the pandemic has abated either.

Given that, I’m not really all that enthused about attending any early 2023 furry conventions. (Yeah, I have a partial I cobbled together a few years ago from various makers, but that’s not really me.)

So with that in mind, my goals for 2023 are simply: Keep doing what I’m doing and increase the degree to which Elon Musk should feel fucking embarrassed for offering to buy Twitter. Especially if he’s trying to shoehorn end-to-end encryption into Twitter DMs without doing the necessary careful engineering work. What a terrible idea.

Anything else on top of that is a bonus.

Coffee Sip Sticker
Art: CMYKat

Here’s to as quiet and peaceful a new year as we can make of it.

By Soatok

Security engineer with a fursona. Ask me about dholes or Diffie-Hellman!

Bark My Way

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