The origin of private online transactions

The origin of private online transactions

NewsPeek was the first digital newspaper created in 1981 at what was to later become the M.I.T. Media Lab. Some excerpts from the thesis introduction:

…it would be an extension of both the television set and the telephone, facilitating a bi-directional interchange of data.

This exciting prospect, that of being able to transmit a reply to an article or make a statement on an issue, as well as receive information from a greater variety of sources, will help to open up a whole new world of learning and information.

However, a tool which can provide unlimited access to informational resources can be used as well as terribly abused. … there are several important issues which should be kept in mind during the design of a large scale integrated system.

  • Private information, e.g., personal letters sent by means of an electronic mail, must be guaranteed private and untappable. [note: This can be accomplished using current, state-of-the-art public key encryption methods.]
  • No single interest group, such as the government, military, or private corporation, should have the ability to control the flow of information on the system, or have any influence upon what is and what is not generally available.

All of these guidelines should be completely adhered to or we lay ourselves bare to manipulation and exploitation for the good of some special interest group. As people begin to learn how to use the system for learning and dissemination of information, and with these precepts as a foundation, we will be able to move towards a better informed public, decentralization of decision making, and perhaps a more coherent public policy along socially useful lines.

Tools like blockchain that can provide secure and verifiable pseudonymous digital transactions enabling reputation economies are crucial to taking civil discourse and policy-making to the next level.

For more on NewsPeek, see