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April 15, 2005

cc: representational system breakdown - Hernando DeSoto & the Mystery of Captal

The below carbon copy mix up was in the same article as the Feinstein Article in the previous post. Really interesting and highlights the fragility of paper records that are still in abundance today. Again it highlights the challenge we have today - and explosion of records about ourselves. Every place we do business with. How do we manage this and know our 'secrets' are kept secrets.

Hernando DeSoto dives into the Mystery of Capital (I am reading the book now) and clearly articulates why it works in the west. We westerners don't even see what it is and why it works because it just is. At the core are the representational systems that we use for things - the deeds for houses, the ownership of businesses etc. These documentation and representational systems are key to the efficient leverage and flow of capital. If we can succeed to new representational systems for people - persistent digital identity - the "big bang" comes in part from our being able to harness our own identities with a representation systems in new ways never before possible.

The current system tied to SSN numbers and credit card number is breaking down under the demands placed on it.
Reading the article below it is clear that as our current representational systems get more and more complex - distributed and insecure their is danger that things could break down before solutions arise.

Carbon copy: Speaking of data going astray, here's a cautionary tale showing that people's personal info can get loose even without the help of hackers and computer thieves.

Lori Falkell, 39, who runs an Oakland dog-walking service, stopped by the Berkeley Office Depot outlet the other day to pick up a roll of carbon paper for her fax machine.

She plucked a box off the shelf, paid for it and took it home. Installing the paper, however, Falkell noticed that it already had printing on it.

Unrolling a few feet, she discovered a wealth of data, including what looked like inside dope for a Reno ambulance company called Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, or Remsa.

Falkell also saw what appeared to be the names and Social Security numbers of a handful of Kaiser Permanente members.

"There's all kinds of personal information," she told me. "You can read it clearly. It looks like quite a bit of juicy stuff."

Klark Staffan, a Remsa vice president, confirmed that Falkell was indeed looking at the company's internal documents. But he insisted that the lapse wasn't at his company's end.

"This is very unfortunate," he said. "But we don't use fax machines like that."

His best guess is that the carbon copies came from a fax machine belonging to an Albany consultant who was bidding for a Remsa contract. The consultant, Diane Akers, is named as the recipient of a variety of documents on the carbon roll.

I reached Akers late Tuesday and she confirmed that she recycles her carbon rolls at the Berkeley Office Depot outlet. She was disappointed, to say the least, that her private correspondence ended up for sale at one of the nation's largest office-supply stores.

"Disappointed doesn't explain what I am," Akers said. "I'm furious."

Bill Cunningham, who manages the Berkeley Office Depot, was at a loss to say precisely how this happened. "It's bizarre," he said.

He maintained, however, that the fault wasn't with his store. Instead, Cunningham said that if the carbon paper had been returned by a customer, it would have gone back to the manufacturer.

"We box it and ship it off," he said. "We do not put it back on the shelf. "

However this happened, somebody somewhere messed up. And if the carbon paper had reached someone less honorable than Falkell, the consequences could have been severe.

"It's scary," she said. It is. For all of us.
Posted by Kaliya on April 15, 2005 08:04 PM

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