Tag Archives: communication

Dmail enters ring for making users feel like they have control of their email

Dmail is now in the Chrome store. Delicious Science, which last year acquired social bookmarking service Delicio.us, has released this Chrome extension that provides Gmail messages with the ability to self-destruct.

After installing the extension, Gmail users can send a message to anyone, whether or not that person uses the Dmail extension, and configure the message to deny access after a period of an hour, a day, a week, or never. In addition, a “Revoke Access” button provides a way to immediately disable access to a protected message.

If the recipient has the Dmail extension, he or she can read the message in Gmail until it expires or is revoked. Dmail has designed the extension so that the neither Gmail nor Dmail servers ever receive both the decryption key and encrypted message. Only the recipient and sender can read the email legibly.

The accessibility of Dmail’s source code — Chrome extensions are just collections of JavaScript, HTML, and image files — may help security skeptics decide whether or not to trust Dmail. The software relies on Gibberish-AES, a JavaScript library for OpenSSL-compatible AES CBC encryption.

However, the presence of JavaScript modules for tracking and analytics suggests this software isn’t intended for people who want serious security; rather, it appears to be aimed at people who would like to feel they have more control over their data than regular email affords.

Concerns about real security would include the relatively weak encryption being used in the package. A further question is what is yet the friction offered to authorities who seek the keys to a message from all of the parties involved. But the package has addressed accessibility concerns with the wider community.

Unconference methodology

I have organized several conferences and large meetings, but never an *unconference* before. Unconferences are gatherings of people that are organized around a theme or idea or question, but that have no set agenda before the meeting. The agenda is created on the morning of the event by the participants themselves. I was interested in the ideology behind them, and what made them work well and not so well. *Open Space Technology* is the organizing principle behind it all, with a book written by one of the main creators of the concept some 20 years ago. Harrison Owen’s book is [here](http://www.amazon.com/Open-Space-Technology-Users-Guide/dp/1576754766/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309521399&sr=8-1). And [here](http://www.openspaceworld.com/users_guide.htm) are many of the core principles and a how-to guide. Jon Voss also has some [tips](http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/using-open-space-technology-to-organize-meetings-and-unconferences/34435?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en) on how to make it work.