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Personal Containers: Yurts for Digital Nomads

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Derek Gordon Murray.

In the youthful days of the Internet, there was a clear division between public data (web homepages, FTP sites, etc.) and private (e-mail, personal documents, etc.). Many people archived their personal e-mail and home directories and thus were able to keep a simple history of all their digital activities. The pace of change in recent years has been tremendous, not only in the variety of personal data, but where that data is held. It has moved from the confines of desktop computers over to data centres hosted by third-parties such as Google, Yahoo or Facebook, who typically provide ``free’’ hosting in return for mining information from across millions of users to power advertising platforms.

It is not a panacea though; we have lost much control over the privacy of our data by handing it over, as well as becoming somewhat nomadic by having to use various hosted sites to get a complete view on our information. Why it is so difficult to go back to managing our own information, using our own resources? Can we keep the ``good bits’’ of existing shared systems, such as ease-of-use, serendipity and aggregation?

This is a WIP progress talk on the personal container project; more at

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory NetOS Group Talklets series.

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