Three Serious Weekend Stories: Encryption's Ease, Apps' Ecosystems, Patreon's Abusers

For the holiday weekend, I wrote three rather serious stories that may be of interest.

In the Economist, you'll find my feature at the start of the Science and Technology section in print (read online). I noticed a trend that was accelerating: it's easier than ever for people with no interest in tweaking configuration settings or installing special software to have robust encryption for messaging, email, and elsewhere — so good, in fact, that governments are now complaining. My editors agreed, and "Cryptography for dummies" is the result. Governments can still obtain what they need, but not "wholesale": they can't vacuum up all our data and sift it. They'll have to use better police work, and our privacy will be better protected.

At Six Colors, Jason Snell's Apple-focused site, I wrote about the tradeoffs between Web apps and native apps. The difference isn't so much the coding for a lot of apps, which are often thin wrappers around the equivalent of web sites; rather, it's often about the payment, notification, and offline storage offered in an app ecosystem.

And on this very blog, I explained the trouble Patreon is having with settling a policy about users of its subscription-style crowdfunding site that supports creators in the regular production of work. Patreon's policies and enforcement have allowed a literal national socialist and many harassers and abusers to stay onboard. Should Patreon be more determined in kicking out people who, not on Patreon's site, engage in behavior that violates its terms of service?