Towards the Vision of The Decentralized Web!

decentralization

#22

Interesting article. Some new bookmarks at least :wink:

Not sure what the FB replacement product of OX is. Do you follow it?

On the other example: I didn’t quickly find how id4me.org was decentralized, but a decentralized identifier is in the works at W3C: https://w3c-ccg.github.io/did-spec/


#23

While not involved with cryptocurrencies myself (watching from the sidelines where it goes with blockchain technologies) I am quite interested in OpenBazaar because of its concepts - its an open-source, blockchain-based, distributed marketplace/ecommerce protocol and framework based on IPFS - and they have now reached 2.0 status (note: site may be down as they are trending on Hacker News at the moment):

https://www.openbazaar.org/blog/openbazaar-2-0-live/

@anon76657042 the discussion on HN is quite interesting as it highlights the many pittfals of such technology with regards to illegal activities and judicial issues, a legal minefield actually (especially with recent SOSTA/FOSTA bill in U.S.A. See: eff.org)… actually the founder of the company behind OB may be in legal hot water because of a statement he added to the discussion:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16702684


#24

There has been some discussion in other topics on monopolisation by big tech, and whether why most recent criticism is addressed to FB while e.g. Google is so far kept out of the storm…

Through LI contact Abhay Johoray I found this HBR article addressing the negative impact of these monopolies… Monopolies that can be fought by decentralization where no one party controls the conversation. Here’s the article:


Facebook, Google, Amazon, and similar companies are “data-opolies.” By that I mean companies that control a key platform which, like a coral reef, attracts to its ecosystem users, sellers, advertisers, software developers, apps, and accessory makers.

Through their leading platforms, a significant volume and variety of personal data flows. The velocity in acquiring and exploiting this personal data can help these companies obtain significant market power.

Ordinarily the harm from monopolies are higher prices, less output, or reduced quality. It superficially appears that data-opolies pose little, if any risk, of these harms. Unlike some pharmaceuticals, data-opolies do not charge consumers exorbitant prices. Most of Google’s and Facebook’s consumer products are ostensibly “free.”

Upon closer examination, data-opolies can pose at least eight potential harms:

  • Lower-quality products with less privacy.
  • Surveillance and security risks.
  • Wealth transfer to data-opolies.
  • Loss of trust.
  • Significant costs on third parties.
  • Less innovation in markets dominated
  • Social and moral concerns.
  • Political concerns.
    .

#25

I’m not sure if I understand, but how about picking up the phone to call a friend or family instead of looking to a screen?


#26

Sure you can, @healthyswimmer! Sure you can, if that is your personal preference. Its all about freedom, freedom of choice :slight_smile:

But this freedom is slowly being restrained all around the world, or never even existed.
You might be in an area where a single telecom provider holds a local monopoly and overcharges you. This is a reason many people started using Whatsapp because its free if you have an internet connection (and many became addicted chatters in the process, joining chat groups, sending funny pics, etc.).

Or you have friends and family living abroad and you want to actually see them, so you use e.g. Whatsapp or Skype video calls. If you have a distributed team of co-workers or remote business relations, seeing peoples expressions and gestures becomes important, so you use video conferencing, maybe with Google Hangouts. Some people want Facebook-like functionality to catch up on their friends’ activities in their own time.

Even your simple telephone example may already use the internet (using voice-over-IP, or VoIP, via your all-in-one internet package).

So then, given your choices, all of the above discussed issues may be at play. Monopolies, personal data collection, non-existing privacy, etc.

The freedom of the internet is under threat. Not only by large corporations, but increasingly by governments, who like it to be fully regulated and under their control. This is not only the case in China and autocracies, even the USA - supposedly the Land of Freedom and Democracy - plays a big role in this, this year alone ditching net neutrality and adopting cleverly disguised restrictive bills like SOSTA/FOSTA (under the guise of protecting sex trafficking, the unclear wording of the bill makes providers responsible for the (mis)behaviour of their users, creating a huge legal minefield).

Decentralization is one of the tools to fight this :slight_smile:


#27

I see there is much I didn’t understand so thx for explaining. Your dynamic understanding of technology is valuable.


#28

At this time WebSonar requires macOS but we will soon be open sourcing it. We are now beginning the process of seeding the first 2000 schools.

WebSonar delivers on five of Ted Nelson’s original 1979 concepts of Xanadu with the added function of being able to add searchable notes to any page of a document.

  1. Every Xanadu server is uniquely and securely identified.
  2. Every Xanadu server can be operated independently or in a network.
  3. Every user is uniquely and securely identified.
  4. Every user can search, retrieve, create and store documents.
  5. Every document can consist of any number of parts each of which may be of any data type.

View School Libraries Network


#29

There was a big discussion on Hacker News today on the article below which introduces the decentralized, open-source Scuttlebutt as an alternative to Facebook (privacy-respecting, no ads, no 3rd party data collection, etc.)

And the HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16877603

There are still a number of issues:

  • The selected encryption method makes handling some edge cases difficult
  • Android support is being worked on, but not production-ready (and based on NodeJS probably a battery hog. Note: I’ve worked on this as well, trying to run NodeJS on Android)
  • iOS smartphone support is in very early investigative stages
  • The project was progressing slowly (but seems to get way more attention of late, after the FB/CA scandals)

Alternative to Facebook that is Moral and not built on Ad $$?
#30

The Renaissance of RSS

Do your still remember this icon?

RSS feed icon

Just a couple of years ago every website, blog, newspaper and magazine on the web used to provide RSS web feeds to which you could subscribe to get new content automatically transferred to your feed reader of choice. RSS stands for ‘Rich Site Summary’ or ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and is a simple standard for broadcasting changes to the content on your site to public subscribers.

The users (we :slight_smile: ) would just click the icon whenever we encountered interesting stuff and have all the good information come to use in aggregated form.

The RSS icon is now nowhere to be found (though there are still a lot of feeds around). Why is this?

Well, this is because we have seen a massive centralization on the internet. People have flocked to Facebook and Twitter and just came to rely on the feeds that were offered there. Feeds that are increasingly less open, as these companies want to keep you inside their walled gardens.

Feeds also, that are constructed by algorithms and AI that work from the personal data that was harvested from you. They don’t truly reflect your interests. They are often forming echo chambers, and serve to bring ads to you more effectively, and to keep you online for longer times.

But, due to the many scandals and breaches of trust and privacy of Facebook, and increasing focus on Google practices (see: WSJ - The many ways Google harvests your data and the HN discussion) things are changing. RSS is on the rise again. People are longing for the freedom it offers and to determine their interests themselves again.

“Less than twenty years ago, the internet was decentralized, when the human cycle of individualism versus collectivism was perfectly aligned with divergent expression. We’ve now spent the past decade attempting to build the perfect centralized web, only to realize its many faults. The cycle continues.”

(source: Now Is The Perfect Time For An RSS Renaissance + HN discussion)

Read more about RSS in this Wired article (and its HN discussion):


#31

A post was merged into an existing topic: Humane Technology reading lists


#32

For the techies among us, I would like to point to an interesting discussion on the Beaker Github repository about supporting the JSON-LD standard in their product.

The product founder was intenting to fork the technology and create JSON Lazy (JSON-LZ) as a simplified version to offer to developers working with the Beaker ecosystem. IMHO opinion this would be a very bad thing, as there is already so much fragmentation in decentralized technology and standards, and this would be a very bad thing.

The JSON-LD team and Solid developers try very hard to convince Beaker no to continue with JSON-LZ. Maybe you can support that choice by giving a couple of thumbsup and hearts to their comments in this GH issue:


#33

But the web is decentralised, it’s the market operating on the web that is concentrated, and I would argue, contrry to the claim in the link, we are as subject to concentrated power now as we were in the last and previous centuries. The problem is not how to decentralise the web but how to regulate cyberspace to prevent concentrations and abuses of power that come from operating in a semiphysical, semi-computational space? This is the promise of blockchain/distributed ledger, but I wonder whether these tech take us back in institutional terms to commune ways of living, which is great for forms of equality, but not necessarily fairness or generating scale for investment that can build modern infrastructure… just some thoughts.


Sociocybernetics and the Civics Law of Cyberspace on the Internet
#34

Hi Adam, welcome to the CHT community! Nice to have you here :slight_smile:

I agree that from a technological perspective the web is decentralized (in its core technologies). The centralization takes place in the ‘higher layers’, as you rightfully say. But I am thinking of the web as the concept that an everyday user of the internet experience, and the vision of Tim Berners-Lee wrt the web as a medium of freedom. So this expression accurately describes it, I think:

" A Decentralized Web is a network of resources in which no one player can control the conversation or spin it to [his or her] exclusive advantage. "
Simon St. Laurent, O’Reilly Media

And this is less and less the case with big tech monopolies and walled gardens, etc.

I am very skeptical of blockchain at the moment, though it could still grow into something useful. I have posted about my perspective, here and here.

Do you mean with ‘commune ways of living’ that decentralization creates a fragmentation into separate small(er) communities? I think this may be the case, but not necessarily a bad thing, especially when having them interlinked in a ‘web of co-op’ and based on open standards. Also don’t know if that would necessarily hamper investment.

Maybe change investment models… interesting subject, maybe create a separate topic around it. We already have Who will invest in humane tech? , Business model innovation and Are humane-tech apps non-starters?


#35

A post was split to a new topic: Sociocybernetics and the need to identify the boundaries of cyberspace and bring them into law


#36

Great thread. A bit late to this, and seeing the launch of Solid PODs. I wrote about unionizing Facebook Users a few years ago, maybe the time has come. https://solid.inrupt.com/#solid-app


#37

Yes @wmaceyka , Solid has finally launched more publicly. Let’s hope it takes flight. Interesting project.
And another thing I wanted to post…

I just added the following to awesome-humane-tech:

Osada - Decentralized social network

It is based on the ActivityPub protocol (for creating federated social networks), and Zot/6 protocol (invented by the author, but not really well specified, AFAIK).


#38

Very excited to learn that Solid has launched! I wish there were more direction on practical uses as so far there are still no apps.

I hope this will be a paradigm shift with the potential to transfer power back from the big tech oligarchies to the people.

I wonder if in practise, will the decentralised web have a different kind of impact compared to what we already have which is open source and open data? At the moment the tech oligarchs take all because they’re able to use their billions in cash to create the best and most addictive apps and develop the best data and services. However with the decentralised web we should see a more perfect competition resulting in smaller profits. Will those smaller profits be enough to compete with the killer apps and free services of the big tech monsters? Or will the users view the advantages of being decentralised and private as “better” than having the most expensive-to-develop services of the sort currently offered by the big tech oligarchies?