Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reverse Engineering is like Physics

Its often been remarked that debugging is like science. But reverse engineering is even more like science. So when people measure the internet (e.g. Rocketfuel) to figure out how the topology and capacity have evolved , they are reverse engineering (and in the process, try to infer mechanisms that explain, and don't just describe the phenomenon) - similar work on measuring P2P, and IPTV and skype (the great Blackhat paper on dismantling skype) are all very good.

So next: facebook - lets dismantle that and replace it with something better shall we?

better = something where I get good default security and properties on objects I "own" flow properly/. Where I can pick up and move my entire facebook account to some other OSN, and can insist (provably) that they do not retain any of my data. better is something where one doesn't just write yet another faceboo app that spams everyone, but can modify the internals (e.g. to build a completely decentralised mobile ad hoc version of facebook) - a bit like haggle deconstructed google..


Daniel Gyllstrom said...

Why is it like physics? (maybe i missed something)

clog said...

lets say we observe a phenomenon
e.g. apples fall down out of trees
the mean distance on a graph of people is 1 less in online social nets than in Real Life

so to explain it we build a hypothesis and a system - e.g.
space is distorted from the Euclidean near matter,
shortcuts across long "distances" are made easier by the Internet

so the measurement system we build
e.g. see if light travels in "straight lines" near a mass
get people to difuse some information to their friends and friends friends on and off line
will reveal if our hypothesis has predictive value - as such, then. the system must be "new", and yet it derives from the system originally observed when it reveaveled the phenomenon, and so it is reverse engineered...

... qed

(except in the physics case it would be neat to construct something that had gravitational but not inertial mass, or vice versa, but that might be trickier than building facebook 2.0)

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