Thanks for the post, Jules. You have a perspective that I had not considered. I appreciate your thoughtful response.
nderground does provide anonymity, but we assume that you would know the members of your group. You need their email addresses to invite them into your Karass (your nderground group).
The main page of nderground right now is the nderground board and it’s structured around conversations, not posts, as Medium is. Responses to posts are usually comments (I’m still working to refine the comments a bit).
The model we have in mind is people who want a connection but are separated by space or time (their busy lives). We want to provide a private space for these people to get together. But my assumption is that they would know each other.
nderground was built as a response to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s fundamental disbelief in privacy. Zuckerberg seems to believe that we all want to live in our lives in public. Or at least present our curated lives in public. This is the opposite of how I want to live my life.
I certainly do understand the desire to reinvent yourself, to not carry around the past and people’s impression of who you are. I don’t think, however, that this is what nderground is.
I have been influenced by my own concerns. Something that I write that is ill considered could go viral and hurt me. We’ve all said stupid things or worded things in a way that could be taken out of context. But I can write something like this on nderground and only my friends will see it. They might slap me upside the head, but hopefully that’s as far as it will go.
Because of work that I’ve done in the past, there are topics that I can’t publically comment on, even if it was written about in the New York Times. But I could write something on nderground that only my friends will see.
There are very few photos of me on the Internet, but here again, I can post these on nderground (one of the next major features will be a gallery/instagram sort of thing).
The nderground architecture has been built with an obsessive concern about privacy and security. Barring a software error, you can only see material that is posted by people you have one-to-one relationships with. This means that there’s privacy, but no community of strangers.
We never thought of nderground as something that would replace Facebook. But there are lots of people who don’t like the noise of Facebook or who have privacy concerns. Doctors, psychotherapists, lawyers, judges, teachers, college professors, law enforcement, people with security clearances and people who are not “out” about their sexuality, to name a few. These are all people who may have to worry about stalkers and people gathering information in hopes of compromising them. My co-founder and I imagined nderground as a place where these people could share parts of their lives in private.
One concern that I’ve had is that the anonymity offered by nderground would be used by nefarious people. For example, we didn’t build nderground to host terrorist cells, pedophiles or people plotting bank robberies . In our privacy statement on nderground we discuss some of the current and future measures that I’ve put in place that I hope will make nderground less attractive to nefarious people.
Most of us use the Internet for public exposure, on some level. nderground is an experiment to see is there is a sizable number of people who are also interested in privacy. Right now it’s an open question.