If I can tell something about it , So it’s about his soft look and an amazing smile. He’s taller than me. He is well versed in computers. He speaks English with a terrible accent. He cherishes his private love life.
In 2016, a few years after our simple and pleasant romance began, we ran into a problem. We decided to live together, and decided that I would emigrate to Europe. But for this we needed to prove to the state services the strength of our relations. Instruction on how it is done, gravitated toward modern forms of relationships: social networks, emails, chats, photos of a happy couple. He read these instructions and showed them to me. We laughed. Our relationships have left virtually no traces in the digital world. At us anything such was not.
We met a few years earlier at a party with alcohol after a hacker conference. Our common acquaintance introduced us – me by name, his – by pseudonym. He immediately liked me. We chatted for a while, but I needed to escape. I agreed with him about the meeting at the end of the week, and missed her because of illness.
“Well,” I thought, “it did not work out.”
We suddenly met in a few weeks On a public IRC channel, and I learned his nickname. IRC is a large chat system, something like Slack for the command line. In general, Slack – it’s just a fashionable interface for IRC with any new nishtyak, but without new privacy. The IRC server knows everything that is said, being on it, like Slack. I wrote that I still want to talk, but he said that it does not happen in the IRC often. I gave him my address in Jabber, and offered private correspondence. And now we were already able to chat.
Jabber differs from most protocols by decentralization. There is no Jabber company with Jabber servers, as Google or WhatsApp does. This means that you can use servers, raised by anyone, in any country. My only way of communicating with this mysterious person (which I could not stop thinking about) was this Jabber address, and he set it up so as to reject all unencrypted messages. Jabber does not encrypt itself, but the OTR (Off-The-Record) protocol creates an encryption layer inside other communication systems. It looks like I’m calling you, but we’re communicating in a secret language known only to the two of us. Someone can connect and eavesdrop, but they will not understand us. OTR has one more property, Perfect Forward Secrecy. It provides the creation of new encryption keys for each new session, so even if you decrypt one of them, it will be decrypted only at that time. He will not give a person who interferes in the conversation access to past or future messages. It looks like when I call you, every time we would invent a new secret language for communication – a language that we would understand immediately.
We started our private and private conversation in our text-book for two . And this conversation is still going on. Most Jabber clients are clever enough to figure out that if the conversation is encrypted, you do not need to log in, and in our case it is. All these early chats disappeared. I remember some people, some of them – he, but most of them disappeared, like talking in the rain.
I remember that I constantly complained to him about journalism, sources, stories, writing, the need to do something important. He always seemed to listen sympathetically, which was manifested in the strange language of the body that exists in the pauses of the chat. He was practical, positive and inspiring. I remember telling him how disappointed I am that I am a woman trying to write long subjective articles, and that I feel that much is not possible from a social point of view. He asked me about the details, and I gave him a list of all the reasons why, as I think, my sex limited my work. He was silent for a while, and then he revamped my list, but already in the form of a list of tasks. I looked at the screen and sighed. I wanted to cry, but at the same time I felt that the time had come. I took this task list and turned it into my last, the longest and best material for Wired. But he does not remember this and just believes me when I say what it was. In this age, when all communication is automatically documented, this episode has remained ephemeral and lives in the moving sands of human memory – the way all relationships once behaved.
“It seems to me that what we keep at Myself in the head, it’s more important, “he wrote to me recently on WhatsApp. “Well, about the accuracy of this – pff.” This is his disregard for his digital accuracy, and it means something. In every second logging there is some legal certainty, but they lack Impressionism, which better conveys memory. I fell in love with him not on specific words or sentences. I fell in love with him gradually, over time, in between words supported by words. Sometimes we do not like to lose words, but forgetting also removes the support of a fixed past – the past, which still can not be captured in the log file.
The first weeks turned into months, he became my imaginary friend, a man whose existence No one else knew. We talked daily, usually through OTR, always in encrypted mode. When we transferred files through unencrypted programs and sites, we always encrypted it using command-line utilities and passed passwords through OTR.
It was not very easy and required long, esoteric commands like
> openssl aes-256-cbc -a -salt -in for-you.mp3 -out for-you.mp3.enc
It turned out that although our communication went through the open Internet, these Messages were only meaningless chunks of text without those passwords that we shared in the chat. I read him a poem into the microphone and sent it to him. I sent him pictures. I do not remember exactly, and I can not find them any more, but I remember that I really liked it.
I wanted to find a way to communicate by phone. We used TextSecure and RedPhone (later turned into Signal). We sent pictures to each other – usually I to him, and usually they were funny things that I met during the day.
I found myself in London and joking (and seriously) I tried to get him to come to visit . He hesitated, and made another proposal – to meet a little later in Luxembourg. A few weeks later I was at Gare de L’Est, the eastern station in Paris, with a ticket purchased in cash in my hand, and took the express train to the main station in Luxembourg.
I still did not know the real name of this man. I did not even know that Luxembourg is another country. We had a wonderful weekend. I told him: “I want to show you a movie to help understand my culture and compatriots,” and showed John Carpenter’s film “Big Trouble in Little China.” We sat on the couch next door, with a laptop lying on our hips, and watched a movie. In the end, he said that he really liked it. During the day we walked in the city, sat in parks and ate food for take-out. We talked about the Internet, activism, journalism and computers. By the end of the weekend, I knew his name, but still called him by pseudonym – a habit.
The relationship was still platonic, but I knew I wanted more.
A few months later We went to Berlin together. Standing on the balcony (we were in my friend’s apartment), at night, I asked if I could kiss him and he answered “yes.”
Soon after, I found myself in the heart of a storm in the media that happened in the The result of tragedy. My life exploded, and in the intervals between mourning and media debates, I lived in some horrible tragicomedy that could not be turned off. He became my hiding place, his apartment was the only place where I felt safe. He looked after me, watched me eat, hugged me, walked with me and let me cry on my shoulder. When our connection could become public, he said that he does not want to participate in my disassembly with the media. “If a reporter calls me, I’ll piss him off,” he told me. I laughed and agreed. I also did not want to participate in it. But when I left, he was with me, communicating through the encrypted channels that we built. I do not remember much about this terrible time, but I remember that I felt his silent presence, being thousands of kilometers away from him.
There are several of our joint photos. Few of which we ourselves did-we did not like the Salfi. Existing photos of our friends we asked not to spread online.
We know that the vague and mild anonymity of our relationship will not be eternal. I doubt that we will have an excess of digital communication channels. Our phones keep track of the paths that we go by, and they are stored for a long time in the bases of telecommunication companies (and, more recently, in the logs of WhatsApp). Their cellular towers and GPS logs are like paths in a labyrinth without walls, and these lines converge and diverge, and again converge. But what we said during these walks is not preserved, not even by ourselves. Remains only feelings, memories and ways.
These paths have already laid down over the three continents, when we traveled together and often visited friends. We do not keep the relationship a secret. Our friends and our acquaintances know that we are a couple, with a slight bias in information security. I was very happy, introducing him to my friends and family (first by pseudonym, then by name). I am extremely proud of him, and at times my head is still dizzy from the fact that I spend time with him.
My novel taught me that our era of digital data cures passing time the way it used to be. I have an archive of calendar entries and emails that clearly indicate the time and place of everything I did. I know when my child came to see me, when I last saw my friend in New York, that I wrote the last time talking to my mom via e-mail. But not with my beloved. For us, the time is softer. Sometimes it seems to me that he has always been with me, sometimes – that our relationship has just begun. All other relationships in my life are much more clearly recorded.
“Every time I see the old post, I have a strange feeling that I like the memory of an event more than the exact record about it,” he told me. He
He did not mean the mail from me. We never wrote e-mail to each other.
I will tell you about it something else. He does not tolerate nonsense. He is committed to clear and appropriate communication and honesty. He rarely sees the meaning in hints, especially on important occasions. We try to talk to each other directly. Over the years, through our encrypted tunnels, we told our stories and explained each other. We became silent voices in each other’s heads. In the absence of an ideal record, we were satisfied with the trust.
So it was in 2016, when we had to document our relationship to the pleasure of the modern government. At the end of the instructions, according to which we could make such a record, we found an old-fashioned version – letters from friends and relatives confirming our love.
A friend wrote in his letter:
“Before we parted ways, we ate chips together, drank too much coffee and laughed a lot. Seeing them here today, I realized how happy they are together and how glad I am that they became a couple. “
“I remember meeting with Mr. **** for the first time in September 2013, when they came to visit me. They made the impression of a couple in love, and I can not remember ever seeing her happier. “
I do not know if any of the officials read these letters – today they, unfortunately, prefer the metadata of real information – but we have read it. Seeing how your friends and family confirm your love is the best of all the world’s peace.
I got my citizenship, permission from the government to live with my beloved in Europe and moved to him.
Last May we Again were in Berlin. I dragged him to the Stasi museum. When we got to the old office of the director, I dialed into the lungs and offered him an air. Instead of the ring, I gave him a USB key (bought for cash, which was there, I will not say).
He said “yes.”
Then he looked at me in surprise, and asked: “You because of this all week was on your nerves?”
“Yes! It’s terribly unnerving! “- I said, and we went to drink coffee. That’s how it all happened.
But you’ll have to take my word for it.
Quinn Norton, born in 1973 – American journalist, photographer and blogger, writing about hackers, Anonymous, intellectual property, copyright and the Internet. Was married to journalist Danny O’Brien. After the divorce, I met with Aaron Schwartz, an Internet activist and an IT-visionary. Schwartz was accused of stealing intellectual property for downloading and sharing the database of paid scientific journals, and in 2013 he committed suicide, unable to withstand the persecution.