#soberoctober day 15: what is a rule, anyway

Oct 15, 2017 21:27 · 282 words · 2 minutes read

I’ve been thinking about rulescapes for a long time.

Let’s say I want to do something illicit, like sell a beverage without the appropriate license. Using facebook for transactions or advertising puts me at risk - facebook can be legally compelled to turn my data over to authorities, or authorities can simply join public facebook groups and entrap their users.

When I did use facebook, group membership was not very granular. Options were “open to public; open to my school; invite only”. One person owned each group and could censor membership.

Contrast with some possible rules that might restrict group membership, in a hypothetical p2p social network:

  • A prospective member could be required to post a bond before joining, and agree to conditions whereupon the group claims the member’s bond.
  • Membership could require sponsorship by two existing group members.
  • A neighborhood group could restrict membership to only people who physically reside in the community.
  • An escort service group could forbid anyone who was personally blacklisted by any member of the group. They’d probably not publish membership information, but instead make marketplace offers available only to the group.
  • A group’s rulescape could declare that only gingers were allowed.

Programmatic rules enforcement could enable a whole new ecosystem of apps. The use case that interest me most is restricting data flow to bad actors (where I, not facebook, decide what “bad” means).

My current (although frequently evolving) definition of a “rule” is:

words dictated by a Ruler
requiring that a Subject
do a Behavior
while in a given Context
under penalty of Consequence
Ruler Me
Subject Me
Behavior Do not consume psychoactives, except caffeine. Do not play video games.
Context October 2017
Consequence None