Status of this Memo

With all apologies to Douglas Coupland:

Here we describe a protocol for use when two people have become attached to each other, via a wide area TCP/IP network but have not yet met IRL. It makes the task of getting introduced to each other a little easier, and spares quite a bit of potential embarrassment.

It basically goes like this:

  • You agree a codeword with the other person, and give that codeword to a trusted friend.
  • You send your friend to meet the person with a photo.
  • Your trusted friend, having demonstrated knowledge of the codeword, hands over the photo and talks about you behind your back. The other person then has to decide whether they want to meet you.
  • Your friend communicates the results with you.

However, this doesn't leave too much to the imagination in some places, and in other places it is too restrictive. For example, might a taped greeting be better than a photo? Or a planned dialog ("In Stalingrad it would be snowing now") in place of a code word?

With this in mind, the protocol is mapped out cryptographic-style below.

It is assumed in this protocol that the two people are unaware of each other's gender, appearance, location, etc. All other cases may be considered degenerate. It is also assumed that both parties are reluctant to use normal means of communication.

PROTOCOL Coupland "Zero Face Time" Introduction Protocol
 INPUT: Two people A and B, at distinct locations LA and LB , with identifying information PA and PB. One trusted intermediary T.
OUTPUT: One boolean decision D on arranging a real life meeting.

  1. One time setup

    1. A and B agree on a certificate C.
    2. B passes a pointer to location LB to A.
    3. A chooses LA
    4. A passes (C , PA , LB , LA) to T.

  2. Protocol messages
    (1)       T --> B : PA , C
    (2)       T <-- B : PB , E
    (3) A <-- T       :PA , E
  3. Protocol actions

    1. A's intermediary T travels to LB with PA
    2. T arranges a meeting at LB with B
    3. T passes PA to B (1)
    4. B passes T PB and a boolean decision E (2)
    5. T travels to LA , and arranges a meeting with A
    6. T passes A PB (3)
    7. A makes a boolean decision F
    8. If (E AND F) equals TRUE then return D <-- TRUE

Or you could just use a phone.

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