Yo, decentralizers. If our projects are ONLY about censorship resistance and NOT about better algorithms for elevating truth, and NOT about creating constrained but real powers of moderation, then we're making things worse. 1/n
It kills me, absolutely kills me, that after years of decentralization advocacy it's a moment like this when all the dweb projects pop up on HN and social media. The interest popped -- not when truth became inconvenient for corporate power, but when lies did.
Charitably, people may be reflecting on the kind of power imbalance being revealed and reflecting on how it could be abused.
Uncharitably? Do I need to even say it.
For anybody still unsure:
We have to find a way to square our ideals and our fears about monopoly control with the realities of how our technology is working. It's not enough to defend an ideal. We need to be effective.
We've all done our spiderman homework. What comes with great power?
If we really believe that free speech is important -- as I do -- and we want to protect it, then we need to work hard to make sure that free speech provides value to people. Otherwise they're going to shrug and let it drift away, "a nice idea, but impractical, really"
The question isn't "how do we make moderation impossible?" The question is, how do we make moderation trustworthy.
That, it turns out, is much harder than p2p tweets
It's also about *checking* power, not just distributing it. Like code-forking: FOSS doesn't always mean "anybody can contribute," but it definitely means that the users can fork if the core devs abuse their position. How can we get that kind of check on power here?
It's nuanced. It's harder to sell than "censorship resistance." Maybe we need a new framework for discussing this, a new set of words. I don't know what to tell you, but the reward is equal to the challenge. n/n
Hearkening back to the internet’s good ole days with decentralized networks
Chris and Serge are back from FOSDEM and CopyleftConf. Chris has a grant to work on an exciting new ActivityPub application and the dynamic duo talk about recursive compilation and Lisp without parentheis.
I’ll circle back around shortly to watch the video of the event that they recorded. I’m curious what else they’ve got hiding in there.
Interestingly, I’ll note that it appears that my site will at least somewhat federate with the Internet Archive’s as they support pingback. (Great to see technology from almost 20 years ago works just as well as some of these new methods…)
Graber helped us understand the broad categories of what’s out there: federated protocols such as ActivityPub and Matrix; peer-to-peer protocols such as Scuttlebutt, and social media apps that utilize blockchain in some way for monetization, provenance or storage. ❧
Missing from this list is a lot of interop work done by the IndieWeb over the past decade.
Annotated on February 03, 2020 at 06:48PM
Thought leader and tech executive, John Ryan, provided valuable historical context both onstage and in his recent blog. He compared today’s social media platforms to telephone services in 1900. Back then, a Bell Telephone user couldn’t talk to an AT&T customer; businesses had to have multiple phone lines just to converse with their clients. It’s not that different today, Ryan asserts, when Facebook members can’t share their photos with Renren’s 150 million account holders. All of these walled gardens, he said, need a “trusted intermediary” layer to become fully interconnected. ❧
An apt analogy which I’ve used multiple times in the past.
Annotated on February 03, 2020 at 06:50PM
Opinion: Facebook and Google's growing power has spurred calls to decentralize the web.
NPR's Scott Simon asks Atlantic writer Taylor Lorenz about the phenomenon of teens using AirDrop to share memes and pictures with each other and, sometimes, unwitting strangers.
V unique venue. Look up reclaim hosting on YouTube. Couple of the videos are up, more should go up next few days including a particularly ranty form of me...even for me. Lots of interesting indieweb stuff that aligns w. Dweb even if not outright doing it
— Bryan ✻llendyke (@btopro) June 12, 2019
Some broad initial bibliography from the top of my head:
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshona Zuboff (Public Affairs)
- Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro
- Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci (Yale)
Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia)
- How to decentralize social media—a brief sketch
- Proposing a “Declaration of Digital Independence”, (WIRED 3/19)
- Version history for “Declaration of Digital Independence”
I’ve seen via personal correspondence, should be publicly available soon:
- Declaration of Digital Independence
- FAQ about the project to decentralize social media
- Social Media Strike!
Some useful history/timelines:
I’m curious if you’d publicly share your current blbliography/reading list?
Opinion: Larry Sanger, the cofounder of Wikipedia and chief information officer of Everipedia, suggests how to spark a decentralized social media movement.
The problem about social media is that it is centralized. Centralization empowers massive corporations and governments to steal our privacy and restrict our speech and autonomy.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
The social media browser plugins. Here’s the killer feature. Create at least one (could be many competing) browser plugins that enable you to (a) select feeds and then (b) display them alongside a user’s Twitter, Facebook, etc., feeds. (This could be an adaptation of Greasemonkey.) In other words, once this feature were available, you could tell your friends: “I’m not on Twitter. But if you want to see my Tweet-like posts appear in your Twitter feed, then simply install this plugin and input my feed address. You’ll see my posts pop up just as if they were on Twitter. But they’re not! And we can do this because you can control how any website appears to you from your own browser. It’s totally legal and it’s actually a really good idea.” In this way, while you might never look at Twitter or Facebook, you can stay in contact with your friends who are still there—but on your own terms. ❧
This is an intriguing idea. In particular, it would be cool if I could input my OPML file of people I’m following and have a plugin like this work with other social readers.
February 20, 2019 at 12:29PM
We can look at a later iteration of Everipedia itself as an example. Right now, there is one centralized encyclopedia: Wikipedia. With the Everipedia Network, there will be a protocol that will enable people from all over the web to participate in a much broader project. ❧
As I look at this, I can’t help think about my desire to want to be able to link to a wiki in a post and have a Webmention added to that post’s “See Also” or reference section. With the link automatically added to the wiki’s page like this, future readers and editors could have access to my original and could potentially synopsize and include details from my post into the wiki’s article.
February 20, 2019 at 12:41PM
But how do we make it happen? ❧
Larry, I caught your Twitter conversation with Aaron Parecki earlier about IndieWeb. I’ve added a lot of the open specs he referenced to my own WordPress website with a handful of plugins and would be happy to help you do the same if you like. I think that with some of the IndieWeb tools, it’s always even more impressive if you can see them in action using something you’re already regularly using.
If nothing else, it’ll give you some direct experience with how the decentralized nature of how these things work. I’m posting my reply to you own my own site and manually syndicating the reply (since you don’t yet support webmention, one of the protocols) which will give at least some idea of how it all works.
If you’re curious about how you could apply it to your own WordPress site, I’ve collected some research, articles and experiments specific to my experience here: https://boffosocko.com/research/indieweb/
February 20, 2019 at 12:46PM
The feed readers. Just as the RSS standard spawned lots of “reader” and “aggregator” software, so there should be similar feed readers for the various data standards described in (1) and the publishers described in (2). While publishers might have built-in readers (as the social media giants all do), the publishing and reading feature sets need to be kept independent, if you want a completely decentralized system. ❧
I’ve outlined a bit about how feed readers could be slighly modified to do some of this in the past: https://boffosocko.com/2017/06/09/how-feed-readers-can-grow-market-share-and-take-over-social-media/
February 20, 2019 at 12:47PM
Every year Mark Zuckerberg sets a "challenge" for himself for that year, which as many people have noted, Facebook has turned into a big PR vehicle for the company. We usually don't even bother to write about it, because why bother?...
Do we want technology to keep giving more people a voice, or will traditional gatekeepers control what ideas can be expressed? ❧
Part of the unstated problem here is that Facebook has supplanted the “traditional gatekeepers” and their black box feed algorithm is now the gatekeeper which decides what people in the network either see or don’t see. Things that crazy people used to decry to a non-listening crowd in the town commons are now blasted from the rooftops, spread far and wide by Facebook’s algorithm, and can potentially sway major elections.
I hope they talk about this.
Of course going the direction of old school blogs and following those who comment on your own site has historically been a quick way to build a network. I’m also reminded of Colin Walker’s directory which creates a blogroll of sorts by making a list of websites that have webmentioned his own. Webrings are also an interesting possibility for topic-related community building.
Since Tumblr is unlikely to shut down immediately, those effected could easily add their personal websites to their bios to help transition their followerships to feed readers or other methods for following and reading.
Of course the important thing in the near term is to spend a moment downloading and backing up one’s content just in case.
It also sounds very much like Kevin Marks’ Distributed Verification scheme using the rel=”me” attribute on web pages for which he built a chrome browser extension to actually implement it. Kevin also recently reported that Mastodon now actually supports this verification scheme in one of their most recent updates which should be used by instances that are regularly updating. The benefit is that this scheme already exists, is relatively well supported, there are parsers available for it, and it’s actually working on the open web. It’s also truly distributed in that it doesn’t rely on any central provisioning authorities that require ongoing maintenance or which could provide a monopoly on such a service.