Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why zkBox?

This is the first of a 3-posts series presenting the idea behind zkBox and how the project was started.

Preamble
In the beginning of 2009 Google decided that they will no longer support their product, Google Notebook; they were pointing the users to other products like Google Docs.

Although the existing users are still able to use it, at the moment there is an uncertain future for Google Notebook. Most likely it was a business wise decision taken by Google at that time, but, in my opinion, I still think that from a point of view the targeted users for the two products do not overlap. Google Docs it’s a nice tool but I strongly believe that a considerable niche of users still prefer the simplicity of Google Notebook.

The spark
At that moment I said to myself: What the heck? Perhaps there are hundreds of other online notebooks out there and, if not, for sure I can develop one of my own in one week.
That was the moment when the idea appeared.

The idea
In the next period I was trying to find a tool that would suit my needs. I was using Google Notebook to keep various notes, and sometimes some less important sensitive information (like passwords for some websites, etc…). I was looking for something hosted, reliable and above all uber-secure. After some days of research I learnt that there are not so many tools in that area and the existing ones were not satisfying completely my demands. So, I was flirting with the idea of building my own online and secure notebook.

Everything should have been just fine and everything should have been ready as predicted, in short time. Well… it wasn’t that simple.
I had a friend visiting me at that time and we’re having some debates on how the tool should work and what should be supposed to do. Most of the discussions were in the security area, how it should be approached and which model should be chosen in order to reach one simple target: to allow users to store notes online in the most possible secure and trustable way. On day we were in the zero knowledge applications discussions, when my friend raised the big question “Why aren’t you making a platform for zero knowledge applications to allow building on top of it various applications?
That was the moment when the zkBox idea was born.

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