Sovereign Computing

"Most people took refuge in ignorance. In that depressing context, some people created for themselves an illusion of freedom, a palliative freedom they called `Free Software`.

Free Software users or not, therefore, they were no more than subjects conforming to the arbitrary laws dictated by a handful of Internet `authorities`.

People got fed up with that monkey business.

They decided they would be free to share information and hardware resources with their friends at their own pleasure.

This freedom became known as sovereign computing."

Full article:

This would be possible when the following seven freedoms would have been achieved: (Very brief descriptions)

Freedom 1 - Own Name

It is the freedom to choose any name for oneself. The format of the chosen name is not limited in any way, even in the case of homonyms, and there is the possibility to change the chosen name at will.

Freedom 2 - Nicknames

It is the freedom to choose any name to refer to others. This freedom is not limited to persons, but applies to anything accessible in the virtual world. This freedom is based on the notion that absolute addressing schemes imply in the abdication of one's freedom in favor of some central authority. According to this, the alternative would be relative addressing schemes centered on each person.

Freedom 3 - Trust

It is the freedom to trust anyone one wishes. It is the possibility to assign a degree of trustworthiness to any person, possibly depending on the subject (for example, one's opinion on music could be highly trusted, but not on cars or economy). Also, the degree of someone's trustworthiness would depend on the relative distance to other persons (for example, one would trust more one's friend than one's friend's friend).

Freedom 4 - Privacy

This freedom has two aspects: the freedom to see only what one wants, and the freedom to keep information inaccessible to untrusted people. One application of the first aspect would be avoiding spam by only accepting messages from people above a certain degree of trustworthiness.

Freedom 5 - Expression

It is the freedom to express oneself. It is not only the freedom to expose one's thoughts, but also the freedom to make syntheses of information provided by other people.

Freedom 6 - Hardware

This is the freedom to share hardware resources. This is based on the assumption that most hardware resources are underused, specially among domestic users. By federating the resources of a large number of people, it would be possible to decrease the dependency on internet providers and internet hosts.

Freedom 7 - Software

It is the freedom to share all software one uses. It is based on free software, which must have trivial installation procedures and be easy to use.


The concept of Sovereign Computing was first described by KlausWuestefeld, in a story ( about Neide, a 14 year old girl living in a world where Sovereign Computing is widely disseminated.


I see severe problems with some of the points. For example, points 4 and 6 are probably mutually exclusive in the real world. Point 5 is untenable in any country with a strong entertainment industry (think MPAA/RIAA/Disney/etc.). Point 3 is a social issue, not a technical one, and cannot be implemented with software except in the loosest, most elliptical fashion. And, finally, what do we really need to do to implement points 1 and 2 that we can't already accomplish with the tools we have? (I can edit /etc/hosts to rename places on the Internet I regularly communicate with, edit my mail client's address book to nickname people on the Internet I regularly communicate with, and share those files to share those names with anyone who is interested in them.)

Points 4 and 6 are not mutually exclusive. You can sandbox all incoming requests to use your resources. You can create a temporary virtual machine or process jail on-the-fly to run remote code, for example. What implements Sovereign Computing is a "Cloud Computing" platform, but one where the "Cloud" is not a huge centralized data center, but one assembled by a P2P network of volunteers. The same way centralized Cloud Computing is able to provide you points 4 and 6, a distributed "cloud" can give you them as well, as long as you compensate for the non-administrative-centralization of a decentralized, distributed, "grassroots" (P2P) cloud platform. Point 3 seems pretty technical to me. I've seen papers on trust propagation models, for example. Finally, your critique of points 1 and 2 is valid but misses the "spirit" of the manifesto: the manifesto is about providing a coherent and simple solution statement, a vision. The points aren't there to say: "each one of us is a new product or something that's a contribution to knowledge", but rather "as a whole, this is a complete and coherent new vision, and these are the necessary modules, which we express as freedoms from the point of view of the user". -- FabioCecin

Local Names ( meets condition 2. -- LionKimbro

All of this is very nice and all, but where is the code?


I read the article at and this whole endeavour strikes me as ridiculous. The article takes great offense at the fact that people have to back up data, at the fact that people cannot simply share "spare" clock cycles and storage space with their friends on a commodity basis, and so on.

There are, of course, many challenges that come with using a general-purpose computer, but please realize that these challenges are inherent; they were not simply foisted onto us by mean-spirited programmers, ISPs, protocol designers, and such. In fact, quite the opposite is true: many of the inconveniences attacked by "Sovereign Computing" would in fact be even more onerous were it not for the efforts of these people. (If you think sharing with your friends, backing up data, etc. is difficult _now_, think how hard it would be without the technologies claimed to be straitjackets by "Sovereign Computing.")

Computers are just machines. There is not some Great Committee that meets in The Hague every two years and maliciously decides to make them difficult to use. There are no elves that will back up your data for you. What kind of sense of technological entitlement could lead one to think otherwise?

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