Love in the Time of Cryptography
April 3, 2017 12:20 PM   Subscribe

"In 2016, after several years of a simple and warm love affair, we hit a snag. We had decided to live together, and that I would emigrate to Europe. But to do this, we had to prove our relationship to the government. The instructions on how to do this skewed toward the modern forms of relationships: social media connections; emails; chats; pictures of the happy couple. He read through this, and showed it to me. We both laughed. Our relationship had left few traces in the digital world. We had none of these things." Love in the Time of Cryptography by Quinn Norton (previously).
posted by figurant (8 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Year of our lord 2017, we have to explain wtf IRC is by comparing it to a service launched August 2013

Guess for the tragedy is prolly suicide of A. Swartz over federal indictment stuff for taking the JSTOR things: Norton dated Swartz for a while.

Prolly they didn't really look at the letters because the reason the attestation exists is to prevent visa fraud, and Norton has a western-country citizenship, so much less risk for visa fraud.
posted by hleehowon at 1:12 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]


After all she's been through, surely Quinn Norton deserves a long, uninterrupted run of happiness. Though I do not know her, I am very happy for her.
posted by aureliobuendia at 1:54 PM on April 3, 2017 [9 favorites]


Prolly they didn't really look at the letters because the reason the attestation exists is to prevent visa fraud, and Norton has a western-country citizenship, so much less risk for visa fraud.

The word "ostensibly" belongs in this sentence. Possibly more than once.
posted by aureliobuendia at 1:57 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well, just last week I had to download a load of Telegram conversation and convert it to printable using some of the hx* tools (which are awesome BTW) in order to "prove" I am in a sustaining relationship with my wife. The actual conversation was mostly random jokes and nonsense in a mixture of languages, punctuated with "you got time for a call?", and I could have faked it easily, but this is apparently more convincing than our, y'know, son. Visa application went in today, and I hope to see them in the summer.

I almost didn't read this in case the ending was not happy, but I'm glad I did. Maybe I should join Facebook to establish a trail of innocuous metadata for the next application. But that really feels like admitting defeat.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yes, that is pretty clearly the tragedy. She found his body.

This is really well written and a fascinating look at how we document relationships in an era where communications are increasingly ephemeral in a digital environment that seems to be static and immutable.
posted by sockermom at 3:06 PM on April 3, 2017


sockermom: Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, who was Swartz's partner at the time of his death, found him -- but yes, like you and like hleehowon, I'm also inferring that the event she's talking about is his death and the aftermath.

This piece makes me want to reflect on past relationships and on the past of my current relationship without referring to digital records, just to see what kinds of stories and memories come to mind. I can be a digital hoarder and it's always tempting to go delve into text from my past rather than try to do it inside my head.

I usually rue the data loss I've suffered, certain old email addresses whose archives I didn't retrieve before they disappeared -- this piece makes me feel better about that.
posted by brainwane at 3:45 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]


A very interesting piece set in a world that is far more alien to me than that of, say, nineteenth-century Russia; thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 7:59 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I just ended up at A Eulogy for #Occupy by the same author, which is also really good.
posted by aniola at 8:07 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


« Older “There are no missing objects. Only unsystematic...   |   Lisa S Davis meets Lisa S Davis Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments