Last week, the Internet Archive ran the Decentralized Web Summit. It was an opportunity for new projects  to gather with prominent people in the industry . It was productive and very fun. It also resulted in a bunch of news pieces, like this one, which have been hitting the HN FP for a week. Some of those articles have been better than others; a lot of them feel like fluff to me. (There are some semi-interesting bullet points buried at the bottom of this one.)
What was interesting, was the level of focused energy that this event was showing. The Internet Archive did a great job organizing it, and the speakers were compelling, but the real drive came from the different teams that were present. The news orgs all focus on "Recognizable name calls for new Web," but those speakers only offered spiritual guidance to something that's moving entirely on its own. And, I think they'd be the first to say so.
There was plenty of self-awareness and open discussion. Kahle gave a good talk at the end of day 1, where he pointed out that nobody quite knows what the end-user's interest is here. Are we talking about "open-source websites?" What's the big picture? Doctorow, Baker, Kahle, and Lee all talked about values. Cerf talked about Named Data Networking, which is about content-addressing, an idea that's definitely at the heart of the new work. Zooko threw cold water on everybody ("Is this just 1999 again?"). It was very interesting. A lot of it is online 
1 IPFS, Dat, WebTorrent, ZeroNet, InterLedger, MediaChain, Neocities, many others
2 Vint Cerf, Mitchell Baker, Tim Berners Lee, Brewster Kahle, Cory Doctorow, many others. RMS even made an appearance.
I sometimes I feel like I am by my self on privacy and freedom issues. Very few of my non-tech friends & family get why I think government and corporate encroachment on privacy and freedom is an issue in the USA. So, it was refreshing to be with people who mostly have the same concerns that I do.
In real life, I also often feel like I am alone in caring about privacy and freedom issues. Sometimes I feel like a crackpot when trying to explain to people who don't care why privacy is important.
However I am hopeful that us techies who are actually the ones creating the future of the web are aware of and give weight to those issues.
It seems from reading the comments on slashdot and here, that privacy issues certainly are considered by techies.
I'm not in the US, but it is almost beyond belief to me that anyone in the US could not consider the wholesale spying on their own people without judicial oversight a privacy issue. I feel like those people have very little knowledge of history and even less ability to extrapolate from that knowledge.
You are not alone, I just hope there are enough of us to make a difference.
The Internet today allows/has allowed for the rapid extraction of information/wealth from the masses into the hands of a few.
I am totally opposed to the propping up of Mark Zuckerburgs and Larry Pages. Who then get to decide who and how the worlds information shall be accessed. This should not be the point of the internet.
There are too many unintended consequences that a Page or Zuckerberg are struggling to handle by themselves.
We could have handled nuclear tech in the same way we handled the internet "to spur innovation" and propped up a Zuckerberg of nuclear tech. But we haven't. Why? Because we know there will be nonrecoverable unintended consequences.
It's time we handled the internet the same way.
I was shocked with the quality of discussion at Facebook about Trump. Its as if only because Trump appeared in the US the issue has come to the forefront. How many other Trumps and ISIS type orgs(that we haven't heard about) have been propped up around the world? Forget about the national consequences, there are local unintended consequences in every neighborhood and sphere of life when unchecked information is spread too fast.
If people take information out of the system, they have to make it available to everyone else (or some variation of it) has to be a guiding principle.
I know election season can make us all a little crazy towards the 'other team', but are you seriously putting Trump in the same camp as ISIS?
Hitler, Nazis, etc. have been used so often in the past 50 years by all sides that it is easy to brush it off as empty rhetoric. But if the left has become so blind in their hatred towards Trump, that these comparisons can be made without a second thought, it is hard to take anything you say seriously.
I do agree with your comments up to that point, and apologize if I misinterpreted the point of the last paragraph.
His right wing authoritarian base is a bit terrifying though.
Here is a holocaust survivor's take: http://www.thewrap.com/are-hitler-trump-comparisons-fair-a-h...
You can set down your phone anytime you want to. It just feels like you can't.
The degree to which "Internet" becomes a driving force in your life is the degree to which you diminish your life to allow that to happen. It doesn't have to be this way and it takes very little effort or imagination to keep it from being that way.
I personally am hopeful that there will be a better solution over the horizon.
Zeronet is very interesting to me as a proof-of-concept, not perfect but very interesting and a glimpse into what I would like the future of the internet to be.
We did in fact, handle nuclear tech in the same way - briefly. You might not have heard of the "Atoms for Peace" program launched by president Dwight Eisenhower back in 1953. It really did spur innovation (research and development of peaceful applications of nuclear physics - e.g. medical equipment).
The "Atoms for Peace" program was also directly responsible for the first nuclear reactors in Israel, Iran and Pakistan.
edit: Just to add: I know this is defeatist and negative, but it's the truth in my case. Got tired of it. It's easier if you have tech friends or activist friends and they share your concern.
Privacy and Freedom are values. The web (along with Facebook et.al.) is a product.
I once read that Steve Jobs told Drew Houston that file sync was "a feature not a product". Obvi SJ was wrong but it's an interesting distinction to make.
The WWW as Tim designed it solved a problem it turns out many people have. Most people don't perceive a privacy and freedom problem though. The can say what they want online and most of us haven't felt tangible effects from a loss of privacy. Perception is reality after all.
What I want to know is what is the next revolutionary WWW like Internet product that solves a pain many people feel? After the WWW what hidden pain is there that might bring about innovation in the truest sense?
I think that already happened and the answer is/was "smartphones". Most people circa 1999 probably wouldn't have thought that they needed an always-on, always-connected computer in their pocket (they sort of existed, e.g. the Apple Newton, and weren't that popular). The "killer app" for mobile phones at the time was voice, and maybe texting, but primarily voice in the US. "Apps" -- as in the general ecosystem, rather than a particular app -- are the 'killer app' of smartphones; it's the idea of having small task-specific apps rather than big general-purpose application suites.
I'm not sure what the next revolutionary product/application is, but it seems likely that it won't be on the PC. I say that as someone who vastly prefers the PC over mobile or set-top or embedded or basically any other platforms, but the PC has been the focus of 30+ years of concerted effort while some of those other platforms represent near-greenfield opportunities, so it's likely that the as-yet-unmet desires of the general public are going to be there.
He might have actually been correct if Apple could make iCloud work properly. As it is you'd be crazy to trust your data to it and Dropbox is a no-brainer product.
It often seems like it's too late for things to change direction, but what I've observed is that when one of these angsts afflicts a sufficient portion of the population, the reaction is decisive and rapid. See: the exodus from MySpace to Facebook.
That pretty much guarantees they will outgrow the venue shortly, if not immediately.
To me the answer is obvious.
Look at how the web is used now. Like it or not a high proportion of web activity is social. However, users of sites with a social focus recognise that there are drawbacks to the current arrangements, in that your user experience does not always reflect what's best for you. To give a simple example, the news feed on Facebook is curated based on algorithms you do not have full control over.
From a technology perspective, there are two key parts to what could replace this arrangement to provide a tangible benefit... home servers and decentralised identity. Home servers would need to be as close to zero configuration as possible, whilst still remaining secure. Decentralised identity would then be used to connect to the home servers.
One way to think about it would be... instead of typing in a website address, you choose from a contact list. Whatever people share is held on their personal server. You could use apps that run on your own server to aggregate media from your contacts.
The tangible benefit is found in connecting to others without relying on middle men. Contact is direct whilst still retaining convenience.
People aren't going to buy more black-box hardware they don't directly interact with. Consumers already struggle with routers.
I agree with the core concept, but I think we'll need mobile servers instead of home servers... a simple "Internet" app that installs on anyone's laptop, desktop, or cellphone. Something with a distributed/peer-to-peer file system for ubiquitous content, and peer-to-peer RSS.
The harder question is (complex) querying. How do we avoid the centralization of Google, while still retaining the functionality? I don't see how such a new service could survive if there's a regression in search.
I imagine the box of the future is a home cloud box with a small touchscreen on it for the easiest bootstrapping ever. Enter a name and that's the new dynip subdomain and said. Enter a password and that's the password for wifi and for accessing the group shared content online, and the encryption key for cloud backup. Dont ask the user what encryption they want, just set up wpa2.
Physical panel is always admin. Let the panel admin create users and admins with their own credentials for all the usual cloud services - docs, email (at their subdomain), some kind of social networking/IM node, with easy-to-download apps for various other services like minecraft or music streaming or whatever, etc.
Complete 1-stop wifi and cloud server.
Ask yourself one question: What problem am I solving with this?
Can you honestly see the Facebook-masses buying a blackbox device, however simple, just to connect to others in a decentralized way? Would your mum use it? That's your target audience.
I firmly believe the future must have a better way of doing things but we need to look at the pain points, the current problems that the current tools are attempting to solve and then coming up with something better and easier (let's keep network effects out of the equation for now).
I don't know what that is but it must be as simple as clicking something that says "Log in to <Product Name>"... not another device, however cool or simple it is.
Perhaps a router that gives you a simple question during setup, e.g. Would you like to enable SocialCloud? A major problem I could see with something like that is that I imagine most people get their routers from their ISP and I have no idea how big the router market is... I got mine from Sky and have no intention of replacing it.
Consider what would happen if you asked the same question about technologies that are popular today before they were popular... What problem does WhatsApp solve? What problem does Instagram solve? What problem does YouTube solve? Instant messaging apps, photo sharing websites and video sharing websites all existed before WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube, yet they all took off in a big way. Home servers can take off despite the competition so long as there are enough early adopters willing to take a punt. Network effects can kick in after there's a small, dedicated group getting use out of the technology.
> "Can you honestly see the Facebook-masses buying a blackbox device"
They don't have to buy anything. You can run a home server on computing devices you probably already own.
Nonetheless, things like it and Time Machine illustrate just how much use one can get out of certain features if the UX is bulletproof or nearly so. Routers might be done as easily depending on the circumstances. I'm almost certain ISP's could pull that off. Give them username and password to use on a HTTPS site that downloads the right configuration into an OpenWRT router they supply with any configuration software built-in. It then prints locally-generated password and other configuration data on form for customer to safely store. Any recoveries can be done with it or through ISP.
What you think?
Already done with the Almond+ and others. The problem is that at best, the firmware behind the pretty screen is terrible. At worst? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/05/13/home_router_botnet/
IE, you can simply drop an html page into your own IPFS directory, and other users of IPFS can browse to it (assuming you put global read permissions on it). It is no more complicated than a daemon and a virtual file system.
There have between a bunch of proposals (eg, grokster) out there which have started off as radically decentralized, but eventually took on a layer or three of super peers to manage that metadata transfer, after the fully decentralized model failed under real traffic.
(Good datasets also seem to be a problem here. The available ones are pretty small or have a lot of caveats, which makes it tough to really see how a solution will play out is the real world.)
Also, if the idea takes off, I'd expect to see the functionality being built-in to home routers. However, that's not necessary for the popularity of home servers to grow.
If it's simple enough to be mobile, it's also simple enough to be static and self-hosted. And there are advantages to that.
Replication, redundancy, and consistent presence, for starters.
Identity is solved by real-world trust. Facebook has proven most of us are separated by less than 5 degrees.
Also, I have only about 15 apps, 300 pictures, and 10 sorry videos and I'm constantly running out of space even with half the stearate being on an SD card. I can't imagine puerile having enough storage to run something like this on their phone.
Most knowledge as we use it now is ephemeral and can be somewhat centralized safely. The permanent knowledge or at least the trusted hashes of that knowledge can travel with us.
- Data plans. Everyone connecting to your blog through your phone would use up a hell of a lot of data.
- iPhones are notoriously hostile to P2P apps, so that rules out about half of all smartphone users.
There are other issues but those are the most significant imo.
Maybe this can be solved with good caching.
But what you don't want is your site / post going viral which will bring down your internet connection.
This means that reverse scaling effect kicks in. The more popular the file is the less people access it from original source.
Without the serialisation of actions that centralisation gives, it's much harder and hence more expensive to create things.
If we're talking about the ideal world that may be true, but the real world is far from perfect. If you ask 100 people do you want to live a meaningful life, probably 99 of them will say yes. But do they? Probably 1 out of those 100 will live a meaningful life. If you ask people do you want to be told what to do, or do you want to do what you want, most of them will say they want to do what they want. But in reality most people just want to be told what to do because making decisions and being responsible for it is not an easy thing.
Coming back to Facebook feed, there's a reason why people keep using Facebook even though many people hate it. Sure it's not ideal but there will never be an ideal world. I think the reason why most "decentralization" advocates never succeed is exactly because they're being too ideal (read naive) about this.
That said I think the pendulum will swing back someday in the future surely, it just won't be by these guys. It will be from some random technology which didn't even aspire to "disrupt" the web.
As I said before, content could be curated by apps. You could choose the apps that present the information in the way you like. The difference is, if a better app comes along you can switch to it without losing your past data because all the data would be application-agnostic, there's a greater degree of separation between the raw data and the presentation of that data.
Although network effects work the other way as well, when people start leaving social networks they collapse exponentially just like they grew exponentially.
I like the concepts of Namecoin & Keybase, IPFS and Tahoe-LAFS, etc, Tor and I2P, CJDNS, PHB's Mathematical Mesh, and so on...
Having your own server or cluster that your own devices connect to for anonymization, identity, syncing, federation, etc, would simplify so much.
I have all the respect in the world for people like Vint Cerf, but the fact that he mentioned "copyright" and "intellectual property" twice in his list of otherwise quite interesting proposals make me doubtful about "1999" ever making a come-back. (I personally view the 1999-2005 or so period as a "good" one for the Internet, all of the dreams of that period have mostly been shattered by now).
I only came online in 2000, so to speak, but I distinctly remember that back in those days IP and copyrights were the last things on people's minds. Things like Napster and Audiogalaxy were pushing the Internet forward, and you can look at Wikipedia as "infringing" on the British Encyclopedia's rights to be the ultimate encyclopedia or you might take a second, more cautionary look, at the fact that Google built its business and its current $500+ billion status on stealing other websites' content and storing it on their servers.
The IP industry actually boomed in the late '90s, as the Internet was booming. We now produce more IP content than ever before, selling to the entire planet. I don't see any relationship whatsoever between IP and middle-class crisis, tbh. Disintermediation simply kills people in the middle. Some of those middlemen might have been IP-related, but they were few.
He was mainly talking about how hard it is for individuals to capture value they create online. For example, it's very difficult to make money off of a viral video, popular Pinterest page, or a niche blog. Basically, only the biggest silos have reasonable monetization options, and the individual users who are creating value get screwed.
I agree there's a technology gap there, as would anyone watching the adblocker war. My biggest criticism is economic: there are so many people online that massive supply dwarfs demand, pushing prices to zero (Exhibit A: journalism). Conveniently, zero is the only price you can really charge online, and you get a feedback loop.
Patreon is my favorite answer to this problem so far.
The real problem is to incentivize payment. As Valve says, piracy is a service problem. First your service must be wanted, then it must be valuable enough to pay for, and payment has to be easy too.
He's 100% right that hollowing out of the middle class is a serious problem for a free society. His prescriptions about IP are mostly nonsense.
Can't anyone exclude their pages from being scraped by google if they so desire?
If you post something on a site that allows itself to be scraped, only then it will go on google.
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect
About the same as the rule here in Sweden on filming - you're free to film in any private venue until told not to.
Corey Doctorow also had a really good talk, I encourage everyone to watch the stream. There's a summary and link here: “The Internet is the Only Weapon We Have Left” @odbol https://medium.com/@odbol/the-internet-is-the-only-weapon-we...
Offtopic: Even Canva, an Australian company that knows I'm in Australia, sent me a Father's Day related email.
And a couple dozen other countries.
If you are serious, I think perhaps you are trying to solve too many social problems with technological ones -- see the recent DAO drainage -- if devices had wallets to pay for their own existence, they would almost certainly just get hacked. They'd certainly be a great target!
When the people who actually made these things talk about what needs making next, we should hear them with an open mind, not rush to think of objections.
It takes courage, a bit of craziness and strong will "to make things happen".
Only speaking personally, what happened for me was that I noticed that these utopian online communities that we reinvented are not really particularly wonderful because a lot of the loudest people in such communities are really nasty people with really nasty things to say. On the other hand, the internet has proven incredibly useful for enabling people to keep up their deep high-trust relationships (usually forged offline) across longer distances and more life changes. It makes me a bit sad too, but it doesn't appear that being open and distributed is an important ingredient in building these types of communities, as Facebook, WhatsApp, and others have shown.
It's always amazing to me how much more down on technology we technologists seem to be than the majority of people I know, who just think it's amazing that they can stay so connected with their friends and family all the time. If I told them that Tim Berners-Lee is bummed that they're sharing pictures and liking posts instead of creating their own web pages, they wouldn't understand why, and I don't think I could really explain it to them (or myself).
This is factually correct, no doubt, but I'm not sure what conclusions you can draw from it. I think more than anything it just shows that 1) most people accept what's widely available and popular without question or complaint and 2) convenience / laziness trumps almost all other things.
Or to put it another way -- which history bears out -- I don't think you want to use the majority's failure to complain or disinclination to dream as an argument in favor of the status quo.
It's interesting that you mention this point. There was a social network designed specifically to leverage the phenomenon by limiting the number of your friends. Here it is:
We also saw this in the Friend-to-Friend model of decentralized schemes, esp crypto- or privacy-heavy. Freenet with F2F is probably best example today that has a mature codebase.
So, it might be worth seriously considering what you brought up when evaluating alternative architectures for the Internet. Probably be an overall boost for efficiency in such architectures.
Most people don't want to make the Web incrementally better, but simply use it to speak and be heard. This desire is WAY more baked-in to the human race than any desire to "better the world".
By the same not, more and more projects are just using gh-pages... it's useful, out there, free (of cost to those publishing) and in general works.
In the end, there's a lot of options, I think seeing IPFS support baked into the browsers will see a new wave the likes that we saw in the late 90's of customized content, and then tooling that publishes to IPFS will take hold and some things may become more standardized.
I think there is a need to get to a DNS pointer that can take one from a name to an IPFS directory (similar to a CNAME) though that may need to be updated for each publish. In the end it can/will all be very interesting to say the least.
Try out `dig +short TXT ipfs.io`, take the `/ipfs/<hash>` from that record, and go to https://ipfs.io/ipfs/<hash>. Then try https://ipfs.io/ipns/ipfs.io :)
• I don't want an article that goes viral to give me huge bills or crush a tiny server. I want automatic scaling.
• I don't want to run or upgrade a web stack. I have a few Linux VPS' and frankly they're painful to maintain. I don't have the time or energy to do this unpaid anymore. If Linux was a better OS maybe this'd be less painful.
• It's free
• They have a WYSIWYG editor that's OK (but merely OK, it's not great). Too many blog platforms want me to write in markdown or whatever.
• If I left Medium I'd lose all the followers who get notified when I write a new blog.
• There is no real value to me in doing so except maybe getting a few more features.
The main thing keeping me there right now is inertia and disinterest in self hosting.
I'm not sure that an article that goes viral can do this any more, if you're running a simple static site. Even a million hits a day on my website would only be something like 150 gigabytes of traffic a month, if it were sustained. (I'd expect a much smaller spike).
At Amazon's current pricing, that's about $15/month.
It's interesting that you say that here, on this forum, which in my mind has defied that stereotype for quite a long time.
The aesthetic barrier to entry of plain text and limited function along with (relatively) little support or help is, I think, a fairly decent recipe and one we see succeeding in places like craigslist, which has shown surprising longevity and utility.
I am optimistic that this recipe will start to influence designers and builders more and more ...
I just got back from a big family reunion attended by people from all corners of the country, which was planned over Facebook, and which festivities my infirm grandmother followed through Facebook videos, pictures, and messages. We're now sending each other more thank-you-s, well-wishes, jokes, I-miss-you-already-s, and can't-wait-for-next-time-s. That has real value to us. It is annoying that we sit over here on our techie high horse and tell people that their digital relationships are not meaningful and have no real value.
But I like your more holistic view as well, in that case just assume they are asking for a re-reinvention then. Or however many re's you think are needed.
Ease of use by the vast hordes of hundreds of millions of completely non technical endusers and thousands of person-hours by highly paid UI/UX designers have trumped decentralization and autonomy.
point, click, drool.
Blatant UI bugs often don't get fixed in open source. There's a bug in Ubuntu on some machines which causes the cursor to disappear after coming back from a suspend. (You can get the cursor back by typing CTL-ALT-F1 / CTL-ALT-F7.) The bug has been reported repeatedly for five years.
With enough code bloat, all bugs are deep.
I also think it's completely fixable, because all the reasons to do open source programming work apply to UI/UX work. Getting your work in front of a lot of people, gaining experience and notoriety, getting to scratch your own itch.
There just was no Linux for design people to jump start that culture. And Mac's always had such nice design that they didn't have as many itches to scratch.
Good UX/UI people don't bother to pay for their tools, like in most professions, and prefer to work in software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Maya, Poser, you name it instead of constrain themselves to "worse is better" just to feel good.
So in the end, most don't feel the need to join any FOSS community and rather build their portfolio on online design galleries and magazines.
Doesn't Adobe continue to charge big $$$ for Creative Cloud? I don't understand how these statements mesh..
"Don't bother" as in like most professionals they see a value in paying for their tools and don't mind having to pay them.
There are some notable exceptions of things that have great https/browser based UI: Take a look at Rainloop webmail for example.
Open source won the battle of software. The next battle will be about data itself.
It surely implies very hard problems when it comes to standardization and how data is exchanged. It might involve something like flatbuffers. How data is exchanged, what rights you have on it, how it is made secure, there are no ubiquitous idea or software that can reinvent the web because network programming is just hard and it wont change soon.
What I think could really be relevant is a database that syncs itself like the kinds of bittorrent sync and syncthing. Once you have atomic data that is spread across users, nobody needs to rent servers, and the data belongs to the users. That is a true and real way to reinvent the web, it also solves some of the controversial problems of the internet: advertising and surveillance.
What they want is what they're (sorta, kinda) being given. My device takes my data and puts it somewhere where all my other devices know how to get it. I don't wanna know how it happens, I just want magic.
We, who know how our devices work, and don't want anyone else managing our data for us, are in a vanishingly small minority.
The big companies are putting their money on clouds and centralization. And that's where it'll all go, because they have all the leverage. Twenty years from now, I'd love to reflect on how wrong I was to say this. But right now, I doubt it.
None of the big systems run by the big corporations are actually reliable long-term. They change stuff all the time, come and go, change terms, and generally mistreat everyone. So we just learn to be mostly passive and kinda just play the game. It's a weird and totally undemocratic form of extreme bureaucracy, and we have no idea how to do anything more than superficial.
So yeah, people don't want to take responsibility for all the data, but they do want the people responsible to actually be trustworthy, reliable, and serve the public interest. Is that just a complete fantasy, totally unrealistic?
Because if you leave it up to someone else, they can make a lot of money by removing all but reliability from what you want. So they do.
They'll keep their stuff on the "free" service right up until it crashes and takes all their crap with it, or the TOS is abruptly changed to delete everything older than 12 months or that's connected to an inactive login or whatever, and it's gone.
You don't get control unless you really do it yourself.
It has not won critical battles on the hardware, firmware, productivity, or gaming fronts. Your hardware is still holistically proprietary with baked in proprietary CPUs, the firmware is still entirely proprietary and ripe for backdoor exploitation, video games are still by-and-large proprietary and even decades old titles remain so and die in cultural death for it, and companies are reaping insane profits off Autodesk / Photoshop / Vegas etc being proprietary but their consumers "cannot live without them" and thus there is no way to liberate them.
The corporations are shamelessly playing the "they cannot live without our products" but this is already turning on them. It might not be in our lifetimes but I believe that the people in general are slowly but surely becoming aware that in fact they _can_ live without corporate / proprietary products.
At least that's what I hope for.
We do have to figure something like GFS2 + encryption, only open-source and NOT licensed / patented by any corporation.
Organizations like Storj I think get it and are a good start. They even offer you small amounts of money if you rent your own disk space for their IPFS / BitTorrent like system.
Not on desktop, mobile platforms, powerful IDE tooling at the Xerox PARC level, games.
Instead, we need to recognise the fact that all of this is not ultra-new and never-seen-before, but rather an issue of market failure and growing monopolies and that there's an existing mechanism to deal with it: government regulation.
We can treat Facebook & co as utilities, as monopolies - there's a whole range of regulatory options and those in relevant agencies could really use the help of the tech community to figure out how to apply these tools.
Instead, the web community is out on the playground building DHT sandcastles with a bitcoin moat. Let's grow up.
Which regulations would you like to see implemented on Facebook & co?
And by the way, I'd love to see a definition of "market failure" as commonly used that isn't essentially "the market doesn't do what I consider best". People like to (rightly) criticize the liberal right by pointing out that markets are just a tool, but that should come with the realization that a bad outcome can arise without being a flaw in the tool. If the allocation of goods and services is efficient, the market didn't fail, even if the outcome is not socially optimal. We just didn't use it correctly.
Lay your hopes on a monopoly on force to solve an economic monopoly? That doesn't seem like a well founded long term solution.
You could wholesale copy Facebook's public APIs and implement your own "Facebook-compatible clone", in the sense that a third-party unofficial Facebook client could connect to you instead and operate 100% identically. Of course, you can't actually do this, as you'll be threatened with legal action.
Gmail, another frequent example of decentralization overcome by centralization, isn't nearly as egregious in its domain. Gmail is simply an Email-as-a-Service with a bundled webmail client, albeit with a very large market share of email traffic. You can get (most of) your data out of Gmail, and use another email client instead. But Facebook operates over the "Facebook protocol", and no one else can do so. These proprietary protocols are the real threat, not 'centralization'.
How did Gmail do that though? I suspect it largely had something to do with ISPs blocking port 25 for anyone except expensive "business class" users under the auspices of stopping spam. Well, spam never stopped, but about 80% of email in the US runs through 10 domains now. Further "stopping spam" measures meant that those big 10 basically block email from small servers by default and anyone wishing to send email to them has to jump through numerous hoops, further solidifying this centralization.
Centralization starts at the ISP. It starts with asymmetric bandwidth where you get 4x to 10x max download speed vs upload. It starts with port blocking. Centralization is monopoly. As you pointed out, nobody can compete with these large companies because of "intellectual property" laws. If there will be change, it has to start with legislation. You can't code around this unless you have billions of dollars in patents to fight with.
How are Facebook & co monopolies?
This can however be accomplished with something like SSH keys, where your "friend" list is basically a list of public keys. And a small daemon that will let "friends" make queries like "is this a friend or a friend", etc.
With a identity system in place, other things get more easy to solve, like spam, and micro-payments based on chain-of trust and reputation.
I also think it would be fairly easy to implement in current web tech like browsers and http servers, e-mail servers, and chat services.
Note that your id will only be a hash (public key), and you will thus be anonymous until you tell others that this is you, and the client software could also ask the user before giving it away to a server.
It would also work with something like TOR, where your IP is hidden, and the hash is your fingerprint, witch you can change whenever you want.
Most of us are too deep into the status quo or our view of technology to break in a different direction. Most of the projects so far aim to reinvent "from the ground up" like Urbit or IPFS -- which is an impressive goal but misses what I think is the main point: the average person should be able to grok and contribute to the Internet. We can do that with the simple tools already included with every computer. Ground-up can come later.
I think that posting global knowledge should be as accessible as posting to Twitter. And sharing that knowledge should be as simple as email or Airdrop. This is what I've been working towards with Optik.io. It's in stealth but I'm always looking for like-minded people to join with to achieve such a knowledge freedom for all of us.
An ISP can artificially try to price you under the "business class", but they have to let you send packets out, otherwise what is the point of having an ISP?
My kingdom for some net neutrality!
For instance, it's no accident that we started with hundreds of thousands of small websites and ended with most traffic going to a few. Ask yourself how the internet could have been constructed that would have prevented sites like Facebook or Twitter winning the popularity contest. The 'Power Law' dynamics behind this are the same ones that lead to some airports being hubs and others not, the fact that there is a backbone rather than everything going point-to-point, and many other phenomena.
We can have decentralization but there are costs. Someone has to pay them.
The reason that some airports are hubs and some are not is due to the the fact that it's a system spanning large areas of varying densities. Distance doesn't exist much on the internet, other than firewalls. The goal of most internet companies is to create that distance through lack of interop, in order to guide the maximum amount of traffic through a single point where it can charge a toll. It's typical rent-seeking. I'd argue that a bureaucratic metaphor is far more apt than any spatial one.
I'm working on something else right now but when it's feature complete I'll port synchrony to Go.
The plan is to give full consideration to potential pitfalls of multiple overlay networks, the contacts list, and of course peer-to-peer streaming hypermedia.
"ENABLE_WEB_APP" is also going to be a configfile option.
Users should also be able to modify a list of domains they won't utilise overlay networks for.
What we're looking at is Users in a shared channel applying functions to a synchronised tree, when it comes to edits. That's exciting to reason about.
Forget replicating frames, p2p live broadcasts and storing references to edits of hyperdocuments in a DHT for just a second though.
When it comes to identity we'll keep it simple and use the SHA1 of an ip, port and public key. This prevents people generating the node ID that corresponds to google.com at will, in principle.
As a user of the software implementing this protocol you can be identified as network_name/node_id/uuid4, where your contacts can alias that address with a username or you can transmit the nickname you want to be seen as alongside an avatar image.
For example G+, Twitter, Facebook and Skype et al. could introduce their own particular index.html and client.js which execute a single-page app for utilising their silo'd contacts data/news feeds etc. Permitting them granular access to your decentralised contacts list.
I'm willing to discuss this via luke.brooks42 [at] gmail.com if anyone would like to support the development of this project.
If you're lucky your peers will provide you with an associative array of content hashes referring to nodes who'll serve data corresponding to them and their last-seen times.
I was reading a book a while ago on peer-to-peer technologies written some years ago and there was a chapter by a very talented, well-known programmer.
Today, like Cerf, he's on the Google payroll. Needlesss to say he will not be working diligently on releasing finished projects that help to decentralize the web.
This seems like something we could (should?) have right now. Maybe IA should write a Wordpress plugin, if they haven't?
>Think about creating an archive of software as well, that perhaps may have to include emulations of defunct hardware and operating systems to make the Web always backwards compatible.
A site that archives software and runs it in js-based emulators sounds like a great idea. It would probably be illegal, though. And it almost certainly wouldn't work properly for everyone, as long as it depended on the browser. But still a great idea. That any runtime and software can have a URL is incredibly compelling.
Maybe we need to leave the browser model for documents and come up with something else for using what amounts to streaming software?
>Change the naming system, and stop thinking of the URL as a location—it’s a name, a format he picked to look like a Unix file name simply because people were comfortable with that.
YES. No TLDs, just unique arbitrary strings.
I think you just reinvented https://pingomatic.com/
Sounds like RSS, which I assume a few sites still use. Most people seem to prefer Twitter.
Why is it a problem exactly ? If something great appears on the web it will be shared, saved and discussed and not forgotten. If something is useless or bad, it will be lost when the server stops, and that's good right ?
Same happened with paper books the last 2000 years, great one were replicated, shared etc. others went lost.
Not every website has open useful data for the long term.
* Making the data behind a commercial site open is a great, noble idea - but all of the current big, consumer facing players make money with the customer data. They have no incentive to open their data.
* Big players have absolutely no incentive to inter-operate with new competitors and this means that those who use new, decentralized services have to maintain two identities or lose contacts.
I think the only thing that has a chance to get us out of this is intervention by the government:
a) Make running your own node a human right.
b) Give every person on the planet a free node if they cannot afford one (paid for but not controlled by governments).
c) Make IPv6 mandatory (so b can work)
d) Subsidize open source efforts that enable us to have a virtual presence hosted on our own node, interconnected with our friends' nodes.
e) Elevate all electronic communication to the legal status of snail mail: If your MTA blocks my host, you have to have a damn good (security) reason, tell me exactly why and timely unblock me when I have fixed the problem (Yes, AT&T and 1&1, I am talking to you.)
f) Enforce net neutrality.
g) Force current big players to allow machine readable, convenient exports of user generated content by the user.
The interesting part is the high chance, given recent history, that the first of these killer apps will be things that are under-served for non-technical reasons. Like sharing copyrighted media, or censored media/communications or black market marketplaces.
But I think you are probably right. Unfortunately the ability to push for these interventions gets harder and harder as the current environment concentrates more power among those who are directly opposed to them.
Businesses, universities, and even hospitals whose critical activities grind to a halt at financial gunpoint, and who are advised by law enforcement to roll over and pay up because nothing can be done for them - must be delighted to know that the tools of their demise are so "Utopian".
The internet isn't never was and never will be securable. Even the most resourced orgs are unable to defend their data. The founding fathers of the internet and W3C should admit this, apologize, and stop holding out false hope for the future.
Separate content and presentation layers, URLs as names, open pub/sub systems--these all have good solutions. They haven't failed to catch on because the technology wasn't there.
Anyway, to a large extent we already have a re-invented, private, encrypted, Bitcoin-funded, de-centralized web. It's called Tor, and it's not always very pretty.
Is there a cough centralized collection of decentralized software alternatives, like an "awesome-decentralized-net" on cough even harder github?
Why is Google sponsoring this event?! Won't they lose big chunk of revenue if this happens
It's my opinion (which is somewhat "backed" by a load of tech and economical news; I know that's not an evidence for anything) that the corporations are just fine with the situation right now; if anything, they fight to centralize even more services.
It's true that projects like "the next web" (or however we word it) don't succeed with people sitting around talking, but the way you worded it is really cynical. How do you think ARPANet was born? Surely not through a crowd telepathic effort, right? People sat and talked. A lot.
The game is mostly rigged but some of us still find the time and motivation to try and apply some forced evolution. ;)
According to your own documentation, you have a traditional centralised client-server architecture. (Albeit one with some bells and whistles.)
The Web is decentralized, email is decentralized, git is decentralized, bitcoin is decentralized, now what is the analogue for social? That's the reason github is centralized. You get all the goodies of the accounts. Once you disrupt this social layer with something decentralized, you disrupt centralization in a big way. That's the more relevant phenomenon.
Once you have a conversation with multiple parties, you need to elect someone to be the authority on "what happened". Mental Poker is still an unsolved problem for arbitrary conversations and participants. So that may as well be a server. The question is about centralization in the macro sense.
You claimed that they were describing your platform.
But in the 'macro' sense, your platform is nothing like that -- it's a different flavour of Web app server, and fits in with the existing paradigm. Yes it may be part of a decentralised system (the Web), but any large Web application developed using it would be exactly the kind of centralised information silo that the people in the article want to avoid. The article is about how the existing paradigm is insufficiently decentralised.
Your platform could be a great Web app platform, but it does nothing to address any of the points raised in the article.
Really? It seems that many of the actual quotes from the Fathers of the Internet in the article apply to existing web client-server architecture:
“We hoped everyone would be making their own web sites—turns out people are afraid to.” - Tim Berners-Lee
“People have their friends on Facebook and some photos on Flickr and their colleagues on LinkedIn. All they want to do is share the photos with the colleagues and the friends—and they can’t. Which is really stupid. You either have to tell Flickr about your Facebook friends, or move your photos to Facebook and LinkedIn separately, or build and run a third application to build a bridge between the two.” - Tim Berners-Lee
(by the way, we address this explicitly in our platform)
"Don’t discount Wordpress, it has been embraced by large numbers of people, perhaps the new web should have a decentralized Wordpress type of service." - Brewster Kahle
That doesn't sound like a necessarily serverless architecture to me.
But your platform is a centralised platform just like most other Web app platforms. It is not at all like what the article is discussing, contrary to your claim.
How would a Facebook or WordPress clone built on your platform be any more decentralised than regular old Facebook or WordPress?
In fact how would it address any of the questions raised?
Is your platform distributed and decentralised?
Is your platform easier for Joe public to publish websites on than wordpress and without a central service provider?
Does your platform prevent government snooping?
Does your platform prevent the accumulation of data in a single information silo?
Does it reinvent the Web, making it, as a whole, inherently less centralised than it already is?
Does it embed key moral principles into the fabric of the Web?
Does it unlock published Web content when copyright expires?
Can it verify financial transactions and authenticate data sources?
Can it do all of the above in a non-centralised way, resilient to network outages, and loss of resources at their original location, across the whole of the Web?
Because those are the things the article describes.
And that doesn't sound at all like your platform, which is another Web application stack, very much the opposite of what is suggested in the article on fact.
Yes, just as easily as in multi-person Wordpress. But it does much more than just publish a website. It can power a web app, one that goes in the app store, support social features like contacts, access control, realtime updates and offline notifications, and more.
Yes, by preventing data from accumulating in a single information silo. More than that, we believe that access to the global internet (as Facebook was trying to with Internet 2.0 in India) should be unnecessary, as people on cruises or local villages should connect on local area networks, and only access the wider internet when necessary. We believe the older tools in the dialup era were designed more properly than the ones which assume always-on broadband access and only have "isOnline/isOffline" dichotomy.
Yes. People choose what organizations they host with. When they visit another domain, they have an instantly personalized experience, with all friends who wanted to share that they also use the service. Much better than "Your friend XYZ is now on Instagram" without their permission, and much better than oAuth. Over time, you might import enough information to have a full-fledged presence in both communities, and choose which one to auth with. Some communities are for your videos, the others are for some group activities or whatever. Any community can embed components from any other community. Any aggregator can subscribe to publishers (with their permission) and get realtime updates, with custom stream types, instead of e.g. Google spidering your site.
Just take a look: http://qbix.com/platform/features/distributed
Does it reinvent the Web, making it, as a whole, inherently less centralised than it already is?
It builds on top of the web, which is already decentralized, and makes it possible for communities to deploy apps on their domain which rival those on facebook.com, and which allow users to seamlessly use their identities and friends across domains.
It is designed to power mesh networks such as the ones being set up in various cities. The mobile wireless infrastructure is still centralized, but that will eventually change.
See http://magarshak.com/blog/?p=135 for my own overview of the moral and political principles behind the platform.
Some of the other things you mentioned aren't really addressed, such as "Can it verify financial transactions and authenticate data sources?" That's more for blockchains. Our platform does not rely on any global resources except possibly DNS.
The web is already decentralized; just ask anyone who was at one time restricted to the "online service providers" like AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. But whether or not the web is decentralized, it still connects things. I don't think decentralization will improve the connections; rather, as anyone who has ever run a large network will tell you, decentralization causes almost as many problems as it solves.
In many ways, making the web more decentralized could make it easier to defeat its simple design and raise new problems. So to my mind, we need to be addressing more specific challenges and design with the intent to address those challenges, and not simply to make change for change's sake, the way most technological improvements have haphazardly occurred.
As a very simple example of the decentralization of the web, let's look at the real new Web: mobile application platforms. On Apple's platform, pornography is not allowed. This is the result of the kind of "social protections" that our societies have traditionally been governed by. But if this was instead totally decentralized, there could be the potential for "harming children" and other persons sensitive to certain content, and as a result, governments both local and around the world may enact laws forbidding certain content on the network, or even the whole network itself.
Is the loss of certain content like pornography - specifically in a _centralized_ marketplace like the Apple Store - worth the access to such a large marketplace of content and applications? Or should we tempt society at large with unrestricted access to content? One could argue that if we were not so dependent on the internet already, modern uses could have resulted in it being banned around the globe long ago.
Here's an example of a targeted solution: an open platform, with subscriber-specific controls. Imagine a universal mobile network and platform, so apps would just run on Android, iOS, etc. But now, to find and access the applications, you would pay $1.99 a month to a company that curates the content for you. Less of what you consider garbage, more practical content. And you could use the company that restricts pornography, or the company that promotes totally unrestricted content. Suddenly there is both increased freedom, choice, and universal compatibility.
Then there's questions of how connected we really want to be. YouTube comments and Twitter are some examples that to me exemplify the kind of harsh environment that the human mind is capable of creating. Will decentralizing the web further result in an increase in this kind of damaging combination of anonymity and unrestricted communication? Is humanity really ready to have an unrestricted, unlimited form of connection?
Now keeping that in mind, let's imagine a new decentralized web: platforms that provide the same content in different ways. Imagine being able to browse YouTube comments, and only see the ones flagged as positive, uplifting, and helpful - but not by YouTube users, but anyone who used that specific browsing platform. You could choose a platform that conforms with your particular world view, and thus see primarily content that you agree with. But wouldn't this simply breed new forms of closed societies that don't take into account things that you don't like, or information you wouldn't have normally wanted to see or hear? Could this not actually set humanity back by reducing exposure to the parts of life we may not like, but are ultimately real and part of society?
We are as flawed as we are complex, and the unforeseen side-effects of the changes we implement will affect the future of how humanity is connected. I think we should tread carefully.
To me, the opposite is true, society has become too civilized. True change would require risks that the majority of Internet users would see as too risky, unnecessary, and a threat to stability & safety.
The number of people using the internet won't shrink, but grow steadily. Facebook, Google has enormous operating costs and if they want to offer an alternative, a better future, those costs (at least bandwidth) should be factored in. The infrastructure is not free, but Facebook and Google users are not paying for it now (well, not with money). But imagine if we say that hey, here's the new web, it's awesome: it's decentralized, privacy is baked in and works everywhere. You just have to pay 0.01€ to access the New York Times. Per page. Then it would be a different situation if costs are not baked in the beginning.
Then there's video. Gazillion of videos are created per day and it grows exponentially as devices get better and better at recording ultra high resolution. Now, again, YouTube pays the bills and users get it in exchange for watching advertising. How do you want to offer an at least as good service as YouTube, but decentralized, privacy concerned and universally accessible and free?
What I see here is a problem that really exists, but the proposed radical new solutions are a bit misguided. You won't convince people with a sub par (but technically better) alternative you have to propose a iPhone level of wow, because only then you can get people's attention.
> Change the naming system, and stop thinking of the URL as a location—it’s a name, a format he picked to look like a Unix file name simply because people were comfortable with that.
That's a problem again, most people use Windows. Don't assume that the end users will instantly "get it" because it's more Unix like. This leads my to the next point.
Another question I haven't seen raised is User Experience. UX. Today's web is rather good at it, at least the top players embrace it very well. Most company websites now pay attention to get it somewhat right. Startups also pay a lot of effort to get UX right.
How about baking in good UX too to the new web? Today I only need to buy a $500 phone and I'm ready to consume the web. How? I type in a string and the rest is magically handled for me. I can read, watch anything. Can yo do the same with the decentralized web? I don't want to install anything, nor download terabytes of blockchain data, no encrypted distributed filesystem of somebody else's cat videos, waiting for hours to sync in. I also don't want pay for hosting somebody else's cat videos. Torrents work well for TV shows, but what would it look like on YouTube scale?
That's they key part here. To have a radically new internet, getting technologies right doesn't stop at replacing HTTP, HTML, CSS, DNS... you need to replace ISP-s and infrastructure providers too or at lest factor them in so that the new system is not born dead.
re silo effect
Schneier calls this the Feudal Model of Security or Convenience with nice write-up here:
We can also look at it as a form of lock-in. In any case, recent discussions on Elsevier and other scientific publishers shed light on where it might take us. Many academics gripe about not knowing the state-of-the-art or even prior work in their field since they can't afford access to the silos its stored in. Many, despite being customers of Elsevier et al, rushed to download all kinds of stuff from Sci-Hub when it appeared. Now lets imagine that effect applied to most knowledge or content to see how bad it could be for progress of both knowledge and society. Let's, if not paywalled, think of how restricted search and selective promoting can create similar effects by preventing people from connecting dots or even experiencing new things. Then, we see that the siloing could have tremendous, negative impact on people in many ways. Better to switch to something similar to old web where all kinds of content appeared, was easily accessible, and easy to build on.
re trading privacy for free stuff is a myth
It's actually a reality given users dumped their freedom, privacy, and paid offerings in mass for ad-supported, web content/services. The demand side of this was so strong and so many experimental alternatives failed that providers were largely pushed in the direction of ad-support just to survive. It also came with significant, financial rewards. Good write-up here:
So, he needs to quit pretending people are ignoring some solution that works in favor of ad-supported, free-for-users content in a target market that almost exclusively goes with ad-supported offerings. The rational choice is to do what works in a market or with given demand. If they want privacy, they can pay for it or take steps to get it. It's why I have a paid, MyKolab account w/ GPG keyring. Many others used Fastmail or Lavabit for years. Yet, vast majority uses surveillance platforms (eg Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft) that sell them out to advertisers but also reliably handle the email on the side. I can't remember the market share but I put money that it massively contradicts those arguing against ad model in terms of what people actually do versus what they say.
re sites blinking on and off. Big problem. Needs to be eliminated in next architecture or at least Wayback Machine-style thing with greater integration/convienience. Think snapshots or rollbacks at the browser level.
re sketchy privacy controls. User's fault. They didn't care in practice. They do business with scumbags whose whole model is selling them out and who have a string of abuses. Most won't pay even $2 for private messaging app or $5/mo for private email. Yet, they gripe about privacy issues. I say stick with self-selection plus reboot a simpler, effective model for evaluation of product/service privacy or security along lines of Common Criteria. Security experts, esp experienced in realities of fielded programs, would contribute to it from many different countries to reduce risk of subversion or simply unworkable ideas. Baseline of features & assurance activities critical to privacy and security of product or service plus independent review they're implemented & trusted distribution. Nothing more unless company volunteers as differentiator.
re Vint Cerf. Good ideas across the board with products/services actively attempting to deliver all of them except copyright. That one isn't legal yet, though. The pub-subscribe is a decent idea given there's many robust implementations, even high-assurance schemes, for that sort of thing. Even military is deploying something like that now with at least one high-security demonstrator (below). Commercial/FOSS sector has things like ZeroMQ, which has other benefits. Much field experience out there in doing it right. The older & more field-proven something is, the more likely it will work right the next time. Tried and true beats novel and new.
Note: DTIC is another source of wisdom in terms of old papers with great ideads or implementations in them if you know how to find them. Can't help there but keep the DTIC link to anything you find that doesn't have a steady link elsewhere. DTIC link usually stays available longer than average website. CiteseerX and obviously archive.org as well.
re Lee. His idea on URL has been implemented many times over. Just doesn't get acceptance due to bootstrapping problem where all the web browsers have to support the alternative but they're not adding something with little demand most of the time. Dot-archive is nice and could integrate with archive.org. Might even do it with a small fee that simultaneously supports archive.org (or its replacement) plus gives clean link in return similar to subdomains or shortcut links. "Surface the data" is idea behind Semantic Web. It was largely a failure. Market went with API's instead. They're probably better but mixing two might create interesting hybrids.
re Doctorow. Vulnerability research being legal is a must. "Computer obeys owners" is a good principle but lay owners vs technical attackers make that a weakness. Feudal model gives up control for safety with good results on Apple, etc. So, maybe an override the user can activate locally or maybe physically. I'm still a fan of jumpers or physical switches for write-protect of critical storage. :)
So, that's my take on these statements.
For example my grandfather absolutely hated credit cards with a passion. He was convinced the credit card companies were an invasion of privacy as well as the antitrust acts (there are still only three credit bureaus). My parents and I despite his recommendations still use credit cards (he in fact later had to get a credit card later in life as it is fairly impossible shockingly to purchase/own a car with just check or cash).
Now I'm the old fart complaining to my younger peers about Facebook.
Manipulating masses for votes is a science ever since the ancient Rome, if not even earlier.
This however is an off-topic and I apologize. I simply wanted to point out that voting is yet another deeply flawed but still massively used system and it's part of the problem that this thread tries to address. Emphasis: this is my opinion.
"Let them have their way"‽ Well, by that measure what the heck business do you have telling the US not to get mad? Let them, the US, have their way in terms of getting mad. It's their right to get mad.
You're replying to someone complaining about people's bad decisions. Well, that poster wants to complain. Who are you to object to them complaining?
That's one type of security, and the security of your state isn't unimportant, but it's not the only kind and for those in the western world it's not even close to the most important.
I guess the difference is that I see mass surveillance and any movement towards a panopticon as much more dangerous than terrorism or espionage have ever been. There is no rolling back a panopticon as that's very close to complete and unlimited political power.
The web was based on a Western educational reference model that is not the normal mode for 3/4ths of the planet.
The new web would need to be pushed based, not pull based. It would need to be need to be instantly authorable and aware of people and devices, Not document based.
tsunamifury is absolutely right that the relatively static, document-centric model of the web is an extension of Western academic culture. TBL's project was originally shaped by the need for researchers to share papers.
Even in the world of HTTP/2 and all the other horrors of modern adtech, we still have this model. The site operator painstakingly prepares some info for anyone to find via a universal locator. And then it sort of runs itself.
(Caution: the following is handwavey bullshit I'm just making up right now.)
It's at least thinkable that we could go in a totally different direction now that we have instant messaging, always-connected devices, and some ability to do automated natural language processing.
tsunamifury mentions how most of the planet still runs on person-to-person messages. But for Westerners, think about how many jobs have operated in this mode forever, where all their actions are about filtering incoming messages, making decisions, emitting messages, and otherwise coordinating the work of others. In the West, front-line service workers do this, and so do executives, but everyone in the middle has more abstracted work product.
The web made everyone a publisher. Maybe the next thing could be: everyone more empowered to be the customer-relations person / executive of their own life.
That doesn't mean document-centric publishing goes away, but maybe it's not central to the next wave.
Wasn't the original WWW editable? I mean the thing that ran on NeXT boxes.
Anyway, the DynaBook idea is still alive for me. And it's probably close to the thing we actually need.
If instead we give people a couple simple tools, decentralization will happen naturally and facts can surface through a natural web of trust. Just like in the real world.
Part of this is letting go of the interface. Right now our interfaces are riddled with dark patterns and fall far short of accessibility. We should own our interfaces to knowledge, since technology is a lever that is an extension of ourselves. If we focus on knowledge, advertisements and spam naturally fall away.
I'm not sure pure push would work, I think a sync+hash model is better: this is what Urbit and IPFS figured out early. But the interface to that is currently horrid for any average person.
Push-based, aware of devices (and, to the extent possible, of people), based on "messages" rather than "documents". This stuff works great for the latest gossip. The problem is, it doesn't work well for information storage and subsequent (on-demand) retrieval, sans the "recent messages" case. Every instant messaging archival system I've heard of is basically pull- and document- based stuff.
I guess query + subsequent retrieval (pull) can be decoupled into two pushes (push "hey, anyone has this book?" + push "I heard you've asked for this book, here you go") - an interesting idea that some distributed networks already do. But this is still based on concept of documents and content-based addressing...
In what sense is the web based on a Western educational reference model?
The vast majority of the planet stores knowledge in people and references it via direct communications.
i'm sorry, but this is complete nonsense based on some kind of ignorant, fantastical misunderstanding of how non-western people live. in fact it's pretty damn offensive if you really think about it.
let me give you a hint: east and southeast asia, india, middle east/northern africa have all been pretty big fans of writing stuff down for a while now, and represent well over half the world's population. you're telling me these people don't read books or go online?
"The global literacy rate for all people aged 15 and above is 86.3%. The global literacy rate for all males is 90.0% and the rate for all females is 82.7%."
But your point is absolutely valid, because, I believe, every (or so) civilization that had invented writing, had books or similar concepts (tablets, etc). Persistent information storage in form of written text just can't be "western" thing. Libraries had and continue exist nearly everywhere, regardless of the culture.
Or am I missing something?
Chat interfaces are certainly all the rage right now. Having a properly threaded log of your interactions with a service provider is one benefit of messaging vs. browsing; lack of exploitable UI space for distracting advertising and pointless branding is another. At the same time, the UI paradigm for chat apps isn't even yet up to '70s state of the art. It's only good for very short interactions with limited or obvious choices.