[tor-project] Measuring Tor's impact in the world?

Paul Syverson paul.syverson at nrl.navy.mil
Fri Apr 29 18:24:49 UTC 2016

Hi Isa,

Roger, David, and I have just concluded the latest Sponsor R meeting.
As Roger and David can tell you, the technical SETA [0] for this
program, Brian Sandberg, has been excited about some related ideas.
In particular he's been writing scripts to develop analysis of
correlation between fraction of Tor usage in countries and ratings
of those countries as free or non-free etc., plus looking
at various events such as you describe.
We were helping him and when some of his numbers looked funny, as a
side benefit this led David earlier this week to uncover and fix some
bugs in metrics.

Anyway, would you be OK if I just forwarded your message to him?
Or if not simply forwarding, could you give me a message you would
be happy for me to forward? (Or tell me if you just aren't sure
what you want shared and so will get back to me about this at
some future date.) If you say OK, I'll cc tor-project on the forward.


[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_Engineering_and_Technical_Assistance

On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 10:14:11AM -0700, isabela wrote:
> hello tor,
> yep, that's right :) I spent some time with our sponsors last week and
> at the end of the day, the question of 'how to measure tor's impact in
> the world' seems to be something that would be useful for us for things
> like:
> 1. grant proposal - impacts we could demonstrate
> 2. reports to sponsors - as a metric we could report
> 3. in general when we talk with people (journalists, users etc)
> So I thought of the following question: 'What happens to the tor network
> when there is an event happening in the world?'
> Is an easy way to do as an one off but super hard if you want to keep
> track of it so you can build stories around more than one event here and
> there.
> Then I thought of what world events are predicable that we could check
> for Tor's impact? elections...
> So I looked at all elections for Q1 2016, then looked at the number of
> direct connected users and number of users connected via bridges during
> those events...
> There were some correlation of events, you can check them here:
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MKntWAoZOcRB8rBbxl3P-VKAvyH8jf0RmqlsB2lejyU/edit#
> Of course we should also take a look for the same thing when
> unpredictable events happens.. like the Egyptian revolution or a
> shutdown of services for whatever reason (whatsapp in Brazil).
> Why I am sharing this? Because there are tons of smart people in this
> list and maybe someone has a different way to measure tor's impact in
> the world.
> Or maybe someone knows how I could automate such a thing :) (api somewhere?)
> Or maybe ideas of other points of data for reference. For instance, I am
> now thinking if x users connected on Tor means a lot or a little in a
> country.. that will depend on how many people are online, the number of
> internet penetration for that country.
> Yes, I know this is very simplistic way of talking about something as
> big as 'impact in the world'. But I have seem this information being
> useful in other scenario, and it did helped a lot to pass the message of
> what value people should think of when thinking of the product.
> For a long time twitter had the problem of being seeing only as a short
> text social media platform. But twitter wanted people to think of it as
> 'the platform to know what is happening now'. A platform where if an
> event happened in the world, twitter was the place where people would
> talk about it. And for a while the data science team did only this,
> publish correlation data of what happened at twitter during global
> events. I believe it did worked because that information was what people
> (media, mouth to mouth etc) start to pick up when anyone would talk
> about twitter.
> here is an example of the work twitter did that i am talking about:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SybWjN9pKQk
> cheers,
> Isabela
> -- 
> PM at TorProject.org
> gpg fingerprint = 8F2A F9B6 D4A1 4D03 FDF1  B298 3224 4994 1506 4C7B
> @isa
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