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The Fathers of the Internet Urge Today’s Software Engineers to Reinvent the Web (ieee.org)
644 points by jonbaer on June 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments



Ok, a lot of people don't know the context for this.

Last week, the Internet Archive ran the Decentralized Web Summit. It was an opportunity for new projects [1] to gather with prominent people in the industry [2]. 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 [3]

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.

3 http://www.decentralizedweb.net/


I also attended the Decentralized Web Summit (the first 6 hours) and it was great. I hope they have this every year. The Summit was inexpensive, the venue at the Internet Archive building was cool, the speakers and panels were uniformly interesting, and the food was tasty. Good job by the organizers!

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.


I sometimes I feel like I am by my self on privacy and freedom issues.

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.


I think privacy/freedom issues are symptoms not root causes.

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.


>...Trumps and ISIS....

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.


I am not taking a position on that, but have you asked yourself under which circumstances you would accept a comparison with Hitler as valid? Or do you think that something like Hitler could never happen again, and therefore, the comparison cannot ever by appropriate again? If so, why?


Its a bit too far, I agree.

His right wing authoritarian base is a bit terrifying though.


I think the Hitler comparison is more as a very persuasive orator and the contents of his speeches (blaming the foreigner/other for all your society's ills) rather than his more notable sins like the holocaust.

Here is a holocaust survivor's take: http://www.thewrap.com/are-hitler-trump-comparisons-fair-a-h...


I think its being referenced because it was brought up at a Facebook Q&A session with Zuckerberg. As in what about the rise of characters in other parts of the world. It's all good that no one is responsible right?


Six hours for Godwin's law. Of course in threads where privacy is concerned this is not a record. :D


"Why? Because we know there will be nonrecoverable unintended consequences ... It's time we handled the internet the same way."

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.


There is also the option to only use sites that respect your privacy. This rules out Facebook for me, and so far I don't miss it at all. I am happy to email or IM people I want to communicate with, or actually call and talk to them. I don't care about people adding likes to photos of my lunch.

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 could have handled nuclear tech in the same way we handled the internet "to spur innovation"

We did in fact, handle nuclear tech in the same way - briefly. You might not have heard of the "Atoms for Peace"[1] 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.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atoms_for_Peace


I have zero tech friends. Zero. Not one of my friends cares about privacy. Never have for as long as they have started using email in the late 90's. Me, I just gave up trying to raise the issue. So much so that I don't care anymore. It's a lost war. I'll take care of my own privacy whenever I care about it, and that's it. The rest of the population will deal with it when it gets too crazy. If it ever gets too crazy, and if they ever begin to care.

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.


Just because people don't seem to care, doesn't mean they aren't listening. Even being "that guy" who makes a point about important issues without obvious agreers can have a positive affect on people. Think of it like advertising: you might not buy that shiny car now, but when you go to make a decision, all those car ads you consciously or subconsciously watched make you aware of their existence. When the time comes and people have to make decisions, many might bias towards your point of view. Don't nag, but quietly continue making the point. Stay positive


Why not just donate to FSF/EFF? My situation is the same, but I do not feel lonely because I know there are huge non-profit organizations fighting for me.


> 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

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?


> What I want to know is what is the next revolutionary WWW like Internet product that solves a pain many people feel?

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.


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.

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.


Jobs was always dismissive of other peoples products, I don't think you could read too much into that.


I think the thing to remember is that people interested in tech are the ones who experience these problems first. For example, most of us experienced ad fatigue, clickbait fatigue, and social media fatigue years ago, but now these are all mainstream frustrations.

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.


Freedom and privacy might not have instant appeal to the masses, but I will tell you what does: attention-shaping. Google, FB, etc. all shape what information you are exposed to and provide limited or no controls over how to control that exposure. DuckDuckGo got a lot of traction on this issue alone, but I think it remains a key element for any open web advancement. Not to simply say "this replaces Google" or "this is an alternative to Facebook" but to say "how about looking at things from this perspective? What if you want to control these aspects of what you see?"


> The Summit was inexpensive, the venue at the Internet Archive building was cool, the speakers and panels were uniformly interesting, and the food was tasty.

That pretty much guarantees they will outgrow the venue shortly, if not immediately.


> "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?""

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.


> home servers and decentralised identity. Home servers would need to be as close to zero configuration as possible, whilst still remaining secure.

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.


People struggle with routers because they're terrible. Buggy, inconsistent, and their UI is full of detailed technical questions they don't know the answer to.

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.


I think we are looking at this the wrong way. We are looking at it like techs. These kind of problems need to be looked at from the customers point of view (ok, I know that Facebook users are the product, not the customer but the analogy works)

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.


> "What problem am I solving with this?"

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.


Apple proved your point with Rendevous on Mac OS X. I actually got burned by its easy setup when I bought a Mac laptop for air-gapped use. They used to advertise WiFi as an optional feature, which this ad didn't have. Turns out, it did have WiFi, activated when I turned it on, and Rendevous already had it setup in the background on an open connection. I remember being confused at just how up to date the Apple Store looked. Very, briefly confused followed by eye roll and sigh that an $80 device was already compromised for use case.

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?


>I imagine the box of the future is a home cloud box with a small touchscreen on it for the easiest bootstrapping ever.

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/


IPFS already does this and exists. It is decentralized, it lets you put your own content in it whenever you want, and anyone can use it.

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.


That's sort of amazing. Thanks for posting this!


Querying is indeed the real issue. I've between reading up on delay tolerant networking; it seems pretty tough to hit the right balance between making metadata generally available and crushing the network with metadata updates. Centralized directories make it easier, though still not trivial, to make content findable on a network.

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.)


Take a look at Urbit, that's more what I had in mind.

http://urbit.org/

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.


Mobilising a server doesn't simplify it.

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.


You're basically describing IPFS protocol.


Very interesting idea about simple home servers used to eliminate the middle men. I have to admit, this actually seems like a viable option if it could be done right. Good idea that I think deserves more thought and should be looked into. I'm curious what the opinions of others are on this idea.


This is what I'm working on at Optik -- but forget the idea of a server. All we need is a device, a writing program, and a sync program. Everyone already has these tools in their pocket, they just have a bad interface and therefore nobody knows how to use it in this manner.

Identity is solved by real-world trust. Facebook has proven most of us are separated by less than 5 degrees.


The only thing I don't like about it being in a phone is what happens when you change phones? How's that transfer made easily? How can v you guarantee everything will be removed when they get rid of their old phone?

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.


We could easily fit more storage (and more battery) on phones, there just isn't the market demand for it. With such a decentralized system, demand may increase.

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.


Trouble with doing it all through phones:

- 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.


Aren't the main reasons everything went centralized: bandwidth and reliability?

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 can be solved with for example IPFS. When you download a file you also make it accessible to others.

This means that reverse scaling effect kicks in. The more popular the file is the less people access it from original source.


Which is why you want content-addressable decentralized storage, so the content gets distributed either peer to peer or through public caching infrastructure that's operated by ISPs, just as IP router are nowadays.


I'd say the main thing is people's inability to reason without serialisability.

Without the serialisation of actions that centralisation gives, it's much harder and hence more expensive to create things.


Ever thought about whether the assumption that having control over what your see on your Facebook feed might be incorrect?

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.


> "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."

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.


I think it's just about network effects. Everyone is on Facebook because everyone is on Facebook.

Although network effects work the other way as well, when people start leaving social networks they collapse exponentially just like they grew exponentially.


Interestingly, Urbit seems to target squarelyat this space.


Yes, I was very interested when I learnt what Urbit did, as I think it ticks a lot of the right boxes. The only weakness for me is how it handles distribution of identity, but that's not a fundamental issue, it can be changed whilst still keeping what makes Urbit promising as a home server platform.


More people thinking about how servers! Great :)

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.


> Zooko threw cold water on everybody ("Is this just 1999 again?")

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.


Jaron Lanier has written about the hallowing out of the middle class due to intellectual and creative property being accepted as "free on the internet". As it stands the Googles of the world have private servers, patents and proprietary technology, ( and the money to protect themselves) but Google can scrape the creative resources of billions of individuals without paying them. In that regard a return to creative/intellectual property rights specifically for individuals might be a forward thinking move assuming it leads to payouts. I know the details are more complicated ( and I might be wrong) but I thought I would chime in.


The middle class has never been involved in creative IP in huge numbers. What they were involved in is a lot of officework which has been automated away, and union-protected jobs that have now disappeared. Stuff like designing presentations now done in Powerpoint, typing up reports now autogenerated, doing typographical work now completely removed, manning and stocking a shop you can now bypass with Amazon, distributing products to such shops which are now gone, raising ads for now-dead newspapers, managing factory processes that are now in China, working for local authorities now so cash-strapped they're literally bankrupt...

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.


You should read his book, "Who Owns the Future?"

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.


That problem is entirely disconnected from the concept of IP. Draconian enforcement would kill Internet virality, not enable anybody to make money from it.

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.


Jaron Lanier also talks about a mythical 20th century that was good for middle-class artists and musicians, completely in contrast to evidence from reality.

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.


I suspect some perception bias. There weren't that many artists and musicians around to have significant effect on the middle class whole (and artists and such weren't especially middle class).


The Internet (including their imagined markets!) would be entirely dead without the likes of Google search. Those who see these technologies as infringing and as leeches have no understanding of where value comes from.


Google built its business and its current $500+ billion status on stealing other websites' content and storing it on their servers.

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.


Practically, you can't, because Google has a quasi-monopoly on attention.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect


My point was that it is misleading to say that Google is "stealing" content because they are only indexing pages that don't opt-out of being indexed.


Or if anybody else posts anything about you on such a site.


Trivially with robots.txt, which is standardized and so well known among anybody doing webservers that not having such a rule ought to be considered as consent.

About the same as the rule here in Sweden on filming - you're free to film in any private venue until told not to.


I think Zooko was being negative on 1999. As in "the last year of the party."


The ideas they talked about at this summit were really exciting: my favorite is the Interplanetary File System: a decentralized way to share files without a server. They did a crazy demo of a chat room where you could chat live, drag and drop to share files, even watch streaming videos inline, all without a central server! It was completely peer-to-peer, and all done in JavaScript!

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...


The context for this is that it's Father's Day.


In the US.

Offtopic: Even Canva, an Australian company that knows I'm in Australia, sent me a Father's Day related email.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father%27s_Day#Dates_around_th...


>In the US

And a couple dozen other countries.


I'd prefer some action items from meetings like these. What we need is an interledger + IPFS integration with some form of ledgered/DAO backed deployment mechanism. This will give us high trust software deployments that also scale for high decentralization across the world's infrastructure. IoT updates done this way, for example, would allow devices get their own wallets and use those funds to pay for their own existence.


Never have I read a post where Poe's law applied my strongly.

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!


The drainer of the DAO well might have a point arguing it is "legal" to do, given the protocol allows it. Solving that without a hard fork will be exceedingly enlightening. Solving social problems is a separate problem entirely, given the socials require centralization. We still need centralization, of course, but it has zero to do with embodying trusted infrastructure.


Before posting something dismissive about this, please remember how easy it would have been to dismiss the internet and the web themselves as things that couldn't ever happen, nice visions but impossible in the real world, etc. etc. and so on.

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.


Tim Benners Lee refers to social "levelling". It's interesting to compare the inventors of the internet with the English Levellers of the seventeenth century. They showed great creativity early on, but gradually got worn down by the failure of the rest of mankind to get behind and realise their vision of a reborn society. I think this is the major problem with the "reinvention of the internet" - the majority of people aren't particularly bothered about changing it in the first place.


+1. I try to remind myself as often as possible that is much easier seeing problems than solutions. When Chesky started AirBnb everyone told him it was not going to work, letting strangers in your own house... really?.

It takes courage, a bit of craziness and strong will "to make things happen".


Not sure it's that, but that the founders had a bit of luck, and to believe any future efforts would not require luck would be foolish in my opinion.


Future efforts always require a bit of luck.


And a lot of determination! :)


> “That utopian leveling of society, the reinvention of the systems of debate and government—what happened to that?”

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).


> 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.


I think it might be an issue of "knowing how the sausage is made". I don't think most people realize how much data acces most sysadmins have in the services they use.


I'd never thought about this, yes actually to non-techie people, the internet is basically magic.


"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'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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_(social_network)

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.

https://freenetproject.org/about.html#philosopy

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.


The vision of the Internet was that the power of the Everyman would expose his insight to the world, incrementally making the Web and the world a better place. But most people use the internet to tighten their bonds with those they are close to, and at best megaphone their thoughts into a canyon where usually no one is listening (cough Twitter cough).

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".


Well, even the hackers post their blog posts nowadays to centralized networks. Why every article has to be on medium.com - I have no idea - but it's very similar pattern the regular users of Internet have.


Because when you create content, you don't necessarily want to create, or host the system to manage that content.

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.


Hey -- one of the IPFS devs here. You can actually already use DNS to point a human-readable name to an IPFS hash.

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 :)


Indeed. I am looking forward to IPFS being more widely deployed. I'd even volunteer if I had the time... :(


Well, speaking only for myself, I've thought about leaving medium several times but never bothered because:

• 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 don't want an article that goes viral to give me huge bills or crush a tiny server. I want automatic scaling.

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.


Which is to say, at amazon's crazy expensive pricing. Hetzner, for example, sell a tera(!)byte for 1,39 EUR.


It gets more interesting when you think many post ideologically against surveillance states, ad ecosystems, insecure systems, and so on... from Facebook and Twitter. ;)


"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."

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 ...


HN isn't one of those utopian "everyman" (to cop another reply's language) communities. It has a lot of rules, both explicit and implicit, and is very elitist. My (poorly made) point is that I don't see why we need a utopian reinvention when the utopian stuff hasn't worked while the web in its current state is already so useful at connecting people.


Without hearing Tims reasoning, I would hazard to guess that its because interaction has been watered down and simplified to a few basic actions, without any real value being introduced. The end result is a never ending cycle of useless information. The kinds of things foreshadowed in Brave New World. I may be embellishing in the predicament, but I think that's essentially the situation were seeing now with Facebook & twitter. No real meaningful discussion (as far as my opinion goes) lives on those platforms.


> without any real value being introduced > No real meaningful discussion

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.


Who's on the high horse? I described what I considered to be meaningless interaction, and I know you see the same things. Were not proclaiming that the concept behind Facebook is meaningless, but that the way Facebook conducts itself is immoral.


The Web has already been reinvented, but not in the direction that Bernars-Lee wants. We have HTTP2 running everything through one pipe to big sites. We have Javascript that puts the site in control of the user's machine and makes web pages display-only, like PostScript. More than half of all traffic is coming from the top 10 sites. The federated systems, email, IRC, and Usenet, have been replaced by Gmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook.


I think they are looking at it as "Hmm, the stuff we helped invent had these unintended consequences. If, like us, you don't like that then let's reinvent these low level parts in a way that protect against that". They are looking at it as changing the protocols to change the emergent properties.

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.


> The federated systems, email, IRC, and Usenet, have been replaced by Gmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook

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.


I know it's a rant, but open source people do not know how to do user-friendly user interfaces. A few days ago, I posted the home page links for Diaspora, Gnu Social, and Friendica, and commented "any questions".

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.[1]

With enough code bloat, all bugs are deep.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=ubuntu+cursor+disappears


Definitely, but I look at it from the direction of "No one has pulled in the good UX/UI people to do open source work" and that's simply a social/culture problem.

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.


Mainly because of culture differences.

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.


> 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...

Doesn't Adobe continue to charge big $$$ for Creative Cloud? I don't understand how these statements mesh..


Yes it does.

"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.


Just FYI that's basically opposite how the phrase "doesn't bother" is idiomatically used in at least American English.


Thanks for the hint. I am not native English speaker.


You want to say "are not bothered to pay for their tools"


I wouldn't say that ALL open source people don't know how to do UI/UX, but in my experience it's a stereotype that's rooted in a truth which is most BSD/GPL/Apache licensed software developers put greater emphasis on the backend of the code than the frontend UI/UX.

There are some notable exceptions of things that have great https/browser based UI: Take a look at Rainloop webmail for example.


Whatever the solution is, I really believe data must be on user's devices, not on proprietary servers.

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.


Nobody wants their data on their own device. Nobody knows how their devices even work, let alone wants the responsibility of managing them.

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.


Speaking as a not-so-technical (never run a server) reader myself, what people like me want is not whether or not the data is on our own devices (that's an implementation detail) but the real issue of real reliability, privacy, and basically not having all the centralized bullshit that makes me feel helpless.

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?


The problem is that I'm not sure anyone has a way for you to get reliability, privacy and not having to deal with centralized bullshit without caring about that implementation detail.

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.


Well, you can, but you have to be willing to pay for it. That's the key problem. Users love the idea of a free service that stores all their stuff, and that's pretty clearly not sustainable from a business perspective, but it makes it hard to compete with a real service.

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.


Yeah, I was counting those types of "free" services as falling in the "centralized bullshit" category. Bit of a fuzzy use of language there admittedly.


Going decentralized doesn't protect you from other people as much as you'd hope. Check out Bitcoin's scaling crisis and the DAO hack. Decentralization just takes the power away from a profit motivated corporation and gives it too a loose group of developers with their own agendas.

You don't get control unless you really do it yourself.


> Open source won the battle of software.

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.


Unfortunately you are correct. However there are many people who aren't OK with this status quo and a good percentage of them are actively working on trying to change it. There are MANY projects that aim to create an universal IoT platform out of Raspberry Pi-s and although this is 1000x times behind building a fully competitive i7 CPU non-proprietary alternative, it's still a good start.

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.


This is something that I'd like to see as well. I recently read about IPFS in much more detail than I did before and boy am I excited for that. Unless this technology is heavily sabotaged before it can even gain steam, I believe it'll be a backbone of this new truly decentralized network.

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.


> Open source won the battle of software. The next battle will be about data itself.

Not on desktop, mobile platforms, powerful IDE tooling at the Xerox PARC level, games.


The argument to re-decentralise the web wildly confuses economic, technical and political concerns. The reason that Facebook runs a centralised system isn't that it cannot figure out a technical alternative, it does so for economic reasons. To assume that making incremental advances in decentralised technologies will somehow fundamentally alter those economics is wishful thinking.

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.


Saying "we can regulate" is true, but so vague as to be an empty statement, in my opinion, and previous regulatory actions against tech giants (mainly Microsoft) have been - again, in my opinion - simply exercises of extracting money with no benefit to the consumers.

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.


> ...there's an existing mechanism to deal with it: government regulation.

Lay your hopes on a monopoly on force to solve an economic monopoly? That doesn't seem like a well founded long term solution.


this seems like equivocation.


What about that was ambiguous? He's pretty clearly pointing out the logical missteps of attempting to use a monopoly to regulate "monopolies".


Is this a funny joke, a possible accusation of equivocation with no further information?


This, but also, they run a centralized system for intellectual property reasons. Facebook Inc. offers a product, called Facebook, where you post content and make connections with other nodes in a large graph. It was built on prior art, but arranging and packaging them together in their particular way was novel.

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'.


>Gmail, another frequent example of decentralization overcome by 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.


An often-overlooked point. For the last 10-15 years, most home ISPs no longer let you host your own services on well-known ports.



>"growing monopolies"

How are Facebook & co monopolies?


The web is already decentralized, but lack the convenience of Facebook et al. where you have a virtual identity, a friend list and can choose who get access to your images etc.

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.


You've practically described ZeroNet. The difficulty lies in getting people to replace browsers with new software.


The problem with these platforms is that they try to do too much. While all we need is a client/server handshake. Kinda like IP white-listing but with public keys instead.


What you're describing is essentially the PGP Web of Trust: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust


No. More like a cookie. It should basically replace user/password authentication.


I think there is a ton of validity in this desire and I've collected a long list of projects, articles, and leaders that are pointing towards a similar conclusion.

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.


As a relative newcomer to this approach, but becoming enthusiastic about its potential, I'd love to see your list.


Have they forgotten an important area in need of decentralization? I didn't see any mention of the internet networks in the article. The network is currently very centralized. Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, etc. Communities need to own their network, not rent it from a giant corporation. I can't run my own server, because my ISP says I have to pay extra for business class. All they've done is block ports on the network to my home. Municipal fiber and wifi networks have actually been outlawed by these big companies in various places around the country. When the network itself prevents running peer nodes, I don't see how any amount of software running on top of that will help.


They can't block all ports coming out or the network won't work at all.

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!


The deep learning is that there are forces that lead to centralization: generally they are variations of human choice and seeking economies of scale.

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 deep learning is that there are forces that lead to centralization: generally they are variations of human choice and seeking economies of scale.

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 think it's more graph theory than distance. A fully connected graph costs more than an minimal spanning tree.


https://github.com/psybernetics/synchrony

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.

It will also have to perform the necessary alpha transforms on javascripts to prevent them from modifying the proxys' interfaces' objects whilst presenting a public API, so that in-network resources can do friends list operations for things to the tune of "network/nodeid/uid would like to play grand theft space wizards with you".


Addendum: Identity is a first-class concept when it comes to decentralised HTTP/2.

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.

The idea is to then facilitate a server/browser contacts API. You're a peer node. You're willing to transact with other people who're caching hypermedia either indefinitely or for a minute or so for a live broadcast. What needs exporting is the API for contacts list operations (JavaScript class and thoroughly documented stream RPCs) so developers and entrenched entities can implement chat, webrtc teleconferencing etc on top of this simply by introducing the functioning hypermedia into the DHT for retrieval. It shouldn't matter whether the original host serves the resource.

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.


I looked at the README but I can't understand what this project is or what it is for. Is it something for collaborative editing?


It decentralises HTTP in-place. No hashes instead of URLs. The thing just treats the hash of a URL as a peer node ID and you ask that node or whoever you find on the way if they've seen anyone reporting that they'll serve data for the URL.

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.

https://github.com/Psybernetics/Synchrony/blob/master/synchr...


Can the "Fathers of the Internet" offer a financial incentive or even a stipend to nerds that want to work on these projects?

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.


Out of curiosity which book were you reading?


>Think about some sort of publish/subscribe system, in which a web-page creator can regularly hit a publish command that makes it available for archiving, and various web archives can subscribe to receive updates

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.


>Think about some sort of publish/subscribe system, in which a web-page creator can regularly hit a publish command that makes it available for archiving, and various web archives can subscribe to receive updates This seems like something we could (should?) have right now. Maybe IA should write a Wordpress plugin, if they haven't?

I think you just reinvented https://pingomatic.com/


I was vaguely thinking more of publishing and updating directly to IA through some kind of API, (rather than having them scrape everything - that may actually exist, I don't know), something you could even add as a button to a text editor. But that is pretty close.


that exists too - load web.archive.org/save/[your url]


>Think about some sort of publish/subscribe system, in which a web-page creator can regularly hit a publish command that makes it available for archiving, and various web archives can subscribe to receive updates.

Sounds like RSS, which I assume a few sites still use. Most people seem to prefer Twitter.


I can say with some confidence that the blame lies almost entirely with the stewards. Until we learn how to converge faster towards consensus, things are going to remain painfully broken for long stretches of time. The inhibitor here isn't technological and it has nothing to do with the people on the ground relying on the web. It has to do with how things get run at a top level.


> Lee and other speakers at the event pointed out a key problem of the Web today is its ephemeral nature

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.


I'm thinking that there is a lot to look forward to when the browsers start supporting the likes of IPFS, along with some DNS hints for IPFS nodes... perhaps something similar to a CNAME record, that points a DNS name to an IPFS published directory... Although, that would need a relatively low TTL, as it should be possible to publish, then update said reference quickly.


Mentioned this in your other comment too, but this time with name and link :) We "invented" dnslink for that, which is a TXT record of the form `dnslink=/ipfs/<hash>` or `dnslink=/ipns/<hash>` -- https://github.com/jbenet/go-dnslink



* The technology for a lot of things is there (e.g. diaspora instead of facebook, etherpad instead of google docs) but hosting these costs money. And people don't want to pay and they don't understand they currently pay with their data/privacy.

* 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.


I also see the sense in the idea that these more modern protocols, that make some of the current problematic uses impossible, can also allow some cool new things as well. And can allow some new kinds of killer apps that will attract enough people (who probably don't care about the distributed/privacy/security aspects) to get critical mass and be real competition.

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.


The technology is there. Even the economic motivation is within reach: The ad-supported internet is reaching the limits of its potential. Normalizing owning a node is an obvious direction to explore, and it could be as simple as the best site-builders are today.


So... these internet-founding Einsteins actually think that Bitcoin should be a part of "our" future Utopian web? Well what do they (and all the other blockchain fan-kiddies) think of the fact that Bitcoin has now replaced Western Union as the preferred getaway car for ransomware and other extortionists around the world?

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.


Are you equally hostile to cash, the primary preference of criminals since millennia back?


Some good ideas, but I find some of them at odds with the rhetoric. Decentralize the web with new centralized naming and archive systems. Come up with new ways of doing things that there are already multiple failed solutions for.

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.


What is the current state of diaspora and similar things?

Is there a cough centralized collection of decentralized software alternatives, like an "awesome-decentralized-net" on cough even harder github?

Thanks!


I think Internet is great in it's current state. The most popular sites are among the worst in my opinion, but there are others. Internet offers diversity. Internet would be pretty much the same without Google, Facebook and Apple because there are equivalent alternatives out there.


“extra credit if we can make it that people can make money by publishing without going through a third party.”

Why is Google sponsoring this event?! Won't they lose big chunk of revenue if this happens


I guess it's time to do away with the web (as it is) and build something entirely 'ephemeral' without that heavy HTTP protocol and 'web pages'. The new thing should be real-time by default and work across web/mobile. Ephemerality is the best way to protect privacy and real-time is the best way to create an amazing experience!


I'm not optimistic for this effort succeeding, but it's doing the right things to make sure that success happens eventually. Instead of having a big get-the-corporations-to-work-with-us feel, this very much had the "screw it, let's do this shit" feel. It doesn't guarantee success, but no technical project ever succeeded by having people sit around talking.


"Get the corporations work with us" didn't work so far, I don't think it will magically start working from now on.

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.


What I meant was talking about design ideas endlessly won't get much done. You get an idea out there, you build the thing, and than you standardize. Sure, talking to people is necessary and incredibly important, but don't overdesign and than wait to get everybody's permission. If you want to change the world, getting a working, if unpolished, version of your idea made is your first order of buisiness.


Yes, you're correct. Trouble is, the people who can make this run much faster in terms of adoption and being end-user-friendly, are senior devs and maintainers and have zilch amount of time for this. :(

The game is mostly rigged but some of us still find the time and motivation to try and apply some forced evolution. ;)


Re-posting a link to the key part of Tim Berners-Lee's talk at the summit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yth7O6yeZRE&t=4395


I don't think we should reinvent the net, in its present day shape it wasn't supposed to be monetized or for statistics mining. I'm certainly frightened of the internet 2.0


Aral Balkan and his small team are already working to develop a p2p web and they need help and funding.

[1] https://ind.ie


That's funny, they are basically describing our platform.

http://qbix.com/platform


That's funny, they're really not.

According to your own documentation, you have a traditional centralised client-server architecture. (Albeit one with some bells and whistles.)


Your mistake is thinking that the relevant centralization is in the client-server architecture. The real reason that people have centralized social is because it's hard to let people authenticate and find their friends across domains. And even further, there are no good tools comparable to Facebook when it comes to subscriptions, notifications, updates, realtime collaboration, and all those other multi-user things that happen on a centralized domain.

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.


The discussion point of the article is how we can build such technologies for the kinds of things you just listed as needing a centralized domain.

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.


"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.


I'm not talking about serverless, I'm talking about decentralised. The article is talking about decentralised. You're talking about decentralised, even.

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.


Is your platform distributed and decentralised?

Yes

Is your platform easier for Joe public to publish websites on than wordpress and without a central service provider?

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.

Does your platform prevent government snooping?

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.

Does your platform prevent the accumulation of data in a single information silo?

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.

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?

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.

Does it embed key moral principles into the fabric of the Web?

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.


They can't reinvent the web, they are too busy coming up with ways to fill the current incarnation with advertisements.


security flaws are racking up like crazy. the dom was designed for the 1990s. it will happen. but its going to be one hard transition. we all know how hard small scale migrations can be. now consider that on the scale of the internet. they need to enforce new password schemas, disable capchats , they are irritating and mak eppp leave and bots get by them anyway, and windows needs to fix their api. you can never fix a bug before someone exploits it, but you design standards that force the user to follow best practices and force tech giants to stop using oaml. vulnerabilities on large traffic sites should be jail time for the person responsible. i may just active my vpn and use tor for now on for everything, compromise my bandwidth to protect my information. btw, im sure all the cloud competition does not share data with affiliates to profit enabling black hat to exploit and use targeting techniques to launch dox attacks against individuals. im not a sec major. just my 2 bytes. also, critical 0 days need an amber alert like system that forces you to change all affected sites.


is this like generated from a markov chain or something?


I can't build all of this by myself but I would be happy to help.


What is the web, essentially? Connection. Connecting communication, connecting content, connecting media, connecting communities, connecting trade. The Web is designed to connect things.

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.


Their goals seem at odds with the economic incentives in the entire developed world. It's a beautiful dream, but we're not sufficiently civilized to make it reality.


>> "we're not sufficiently civilized to make it reality."

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.


I don't understand why tootie is getting downvoted but it seems that both of you talk about the same thing, albeit with exactly the opposite wording.


I - for one - am quite excited about this future!


The Seif project is an attempt in that direction


cough physical layer cough


Maidsafe is comming dont worry!


What I don't see among the raised call to action questions is "who pays the bills"? It's a very important question that explains the existence of silos they feel sad about.

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.


Alright, a lot of statements made by bright people. Now, lets evaluate them one-by-one to see which get praise or reality checks. :)

re silo effect

Schneier calls this the Feudal Model of Security or Convenience with nice write-up here:

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/12/feudal_sec.ht...

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:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/advert...

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.

http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA425566

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 Kahle. Decentralized clouds like Amazon definitely worth imitating. Google applied principle to RDBMS's nicely with F1 RDBMS. Awesome stuff. JavaScript will be necessary evil due to market share, ASM.JS, and so on. However, still room for another Flash to happen across a significant chunk of market if done well enough. Don't think of blockchains as about every goal we've listed has been solved in isolation & sometimes decentralized without them. Its inefficent alternative. Now, Merkle or hash trees will likely be useful at some point. Keybase.io & others working on public key angle. That "Wordpress" and "Wordpress alternative" are typed into Google many times a week make his last point solid. Even Freenet and I2P support forms of blogging.

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.


Too much rough consensus. Not enough running code.


Job 1: Advertising interests be damned, this mass surveillance thing has got to go.


Key to ending massive surveillance is not tech, but social change.


Yes, people aren't like they were 20 years ago, they've been trained to give up their privacy for a few shinies.


Actually I think it is a continuously declining by generation.

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.


People can trade for things. They want a service. They are OK with being cattle. Who are you to get mad? It's like when the US got mad that the Palestinians elected Hamas. They get to vote. Let them have their way.


That's a really bogus argument. Many people can be easily misled even if they don't actually support what they are REALLY voting for.

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.


This type of argument is complete nonsense. You might as well say "it's legal for me to insult you, so who are you to complain?" or "telling people that my message is bad is censorship".

"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?


Sure, so let's build something that will attract their votes and will better represent the direction we want it to go. I can't see where you are coming from, why shouldn't I try to convince the "cattle" to "vote" differently just because they currently aren't? The reason they are voting the way they currently are is because of the campaigning of my opponents.


They give it up for free photo storage and a like button.


but what do you want? privacy or security? because you can't have both


Privacy is a form of security. This view of them as opposing forces only makes sense if you view "security" as only meaning the security of those in power against those they have power over.

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 think you're missing the point. In the modern world there comes a point where we either have to sacrifice some privacy for increased security or we can have total privacy (encrypt everything) and lose our security. If you think it is any other way you are foolish.


I get the point, I just think that the idea that total privacy would "lose our security" to be completely unconvincing. Encrypt everything would only be a real problem for mass surveillance technologies.

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.


Why not?


Most of these guys are a disconnected from where the global market is going and are proposing preposterous ideas for west coast tech scenes own problems.

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.


I'm surprised that people seem to believe you're trolling. Or perhaps that confirms your point!

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.


"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."

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.


I believe you've identified much of the problem: the way people typically share knowledge is not how the internet is built. It was captured early by marketing and introverted engineers.

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.


I am unfamiliar with Urbit, but having only recently read in detail about IPFS, I have to say it has nailed the basics. There's much work left there to do but IMO the building blocks are now in place.


Ahem. Don't we have this already? It's just called "instant messaging" (because name "world wide web" is already occupied for the term describing a system of interlinked documents).

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...


> The web was based on a Western educational reference model

In what sense is the web based on a Western educational reference model?


Storing knowledge in written semistatic documents to be referenced is for the most part a higher education model.

The vast majority of the planet stores knowledge in people and references it via direct communications.


> 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?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_literacy_...

"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%."


Well, technically speaking, writing can be used for both [nearly-]ephemeral communications (letters/messages) and persistent storage (books), so literacy levels alone don't immediately imply that the knowledge is archived and distributed this way.

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.


Historical writings in China, India, elsewhere in Asia, and parts of the middle east are probably worth looking at if you're interested in confirming the validity of your claim.


I am 99% certain you are just trolling, but you advocate replacing written technical documents and written science with oral tradition? Riiiiighhttt......


So basically when someone says the web needs to reinvented, you object and in the same breath conflate the web with the internet as a whole?

Or am I missing something?


I get the feeling that tsunamifury is suggesting that chat, rather than a document browser, ought to be the metaphor for the end-user Internet -- that's what "vast majority of the planet stores knowledge in people and references it via direct communications" seems to be alluding to.

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.


Could easily be pushed based streaming interface of any design. Chat is the most understandable transitional model.


Perhaps if you reinvented the web well enough, it would become the Internet. Everything would be just some communicating components, only some of them would be graphical, for example.




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