I don't see why they seem to conclude that decentralization can only exist to circumvent the law, though : it's not because it happened like that in the past that it can only happen like that in the future.
The author is noticing that privacy is a big concern nowadays, but is somehow discarding quickly that remark. I see it as fundamental. Nowadays, privacy is not just a theme for activists or weirdos whom most people think "they're going too far". Nowadays, my aunt and my grand mother speak out privacy concerns about facebook (ironically, on facebook). There is also in the general public mind this vague idea that we're allowing a few companies to be stronger than governments (and thus, than democracies) and that they now own internet.
All of this is very fertile ground for decentralization, we'll see if that ground expands or shrinks, but this is clearly not about working around the law.
Regarding "decentralization can only exist to circumvent the law", I don't think that in the long term (>5 years out). I touched on this a bit in another comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17641098
Regarding privacy, I'm with you there, but I'm very skeptical that very fuzzy privacy concerns can switch enough people away centralized systems with network effects (FB, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube). I think these systems will see adoption from a few groups:
- Privacy advocates and people otherwise interested in the tech by itself
- Ostracized groups. For example, see how Voat (not a decentralized system, but an example of a Reddit clone with a ideological mission) wound up as a hub for the alt-right.
- The most extreme people trying to boycott platforms like Twitter. For example, people demanding way more censorship from Twitter that are trying to make Mastodon happen because it has content warning stuff and other anti-harassment stuff from what I've heard
- Communities that are forced out by the law, like r/DarknetMarkets moving to Dread: https://medium.com/@jbackus/minimum-viable-decentralization-...
So, subcommunities definitely will exit I think but whether they go to other centralized systems depends on UX (which is harder with decentralization) unless a legal reason makes decentralization the only option.
I see your point ; I think there is actual and genuine interest in privacy and decentralization from what I see within my friends circle, but I may be biased because I'm active around ssb myself (and my friends may very well be interested in this because ... I'm interested in it). Time will tell :)
Regarding incentive for legal reasons, there's an other possible one that may happen (mentioning it for exhaustivity). Yesterday, I was reading an article about how an extreme-right candidate was favorite in brasilian elections. I was thinking : "oh look, an other fascist about to seize power". It feels like it's been a recurring theme this decade. And this is terrifying : could you imagine what the gestapo would have been with access to facebook data?
It doesn't even need the entire world to go mad before the incentive for privacy becomes very strong, 10 or 20 countries with strong engineers would be enough to kickstart it.
- Dozens of file sharing apps and their protocols (focus on Napster, Gnutella, FastTrack, and BitTorrent)
- Tor, I2P
- Tor hidden services
- Original p2p Skype
If we generalize "decentralization" into "creative uses of distributed systems and/or cryptography for the sake of privacy and resilience" then we can include a bit more:
- Willfully blind centralized systems like mega.nz
Then finally if I dip into older attempts that IMO didn't get real adoption, we can include some other interesting examples:
There are systems like Diaspora and Mastodon, but they're too close to the present IMO to use as historical examples. There are also obviously decentralized/distributed systems that serve as the backbone of the internet and I do want to allocate more time to learning these deeper, but they don't feel the same.
Anyways, I'm not even really disagreeing with you but mainly trying to point out that I'm trying to draw from as much as possible. The original Skype stands out as a case where it seems to have no relationship with the law (https://twitter.com/backus/status/1014726515592818688).
If you have examples (failed or successful) that you recommend looking into, I'm all ears. As I've pointed out in a few other places, my point regarding the law isn't to say that this is all decentralization will ever be for. Instead, I'm saying this seems like the main point in the past for mainstream applications. Maybe decentralized apps will work as well as centralized apps in the future, but it seems like this might be far enough out that it would be incredibly risky for a startup to decentralize today when it doesn't need to.
I could say more, but this is already a lot. Thanks for reading my article!
One set of technologies that might get us closer, though, is allowing offline signing of websites. This would mean you could trust the public key for a webapp once, and then run that webapp from any domain that serves it correctly. Any data sent or received by users of the webapp (like comments or likes or bids, etc.) would have to be signed by the keys of individual users, meaning a malicious server could only filter messages you send and receive, but not spoof them. For persistence of data across sessions, and synchronisation between the mirrors, the back-end data store could be a web-API database accessed over Tor by the servers hosting these mirrors of the web app.
I don't know what the state of web apps on IPFS is, but believe some people are working toward a pubsub-based system.
- Decentralized Reddit ( https://notabug.io/ ) can push terabytes of daily P2P traffic.
- Decentralized YouTube ( https://d.tube/ ) gets millions of uniques every month, built with IPFS/Steem/GUN (upcoming release will have end-to-end encrypted private messaging).
There are plenty of other dApps being built. This isn't an Ethereum pipedream, you can build them today! We'll even be releasing an IPFS storage adapter for GUN coming up soon, too!
Hey, your Odoo apps look pretty neat. I'd love to learn more about how you've managed to make a business on top of OSS, wanna chat? Check my profile for my email. :)
While GUN seems to be a p2p system, both those applications are single points of failure due to each being hosted on a single domain. Are there additional ways to access the same content?
What we'd like to see next: Browsers natively supporting more P2P tooling. WebRTC still kinda sucks. :/
Of course, I'd like the ability to have my notes be private as well.
Is there anything like that on the horizon?
http://gun.js.org/explainers/school/class.html (cartoon version)
Although, from a algorithm side, you may enjoy a talk by Martin (a CRDT researcher) for a more thorough technical overview:
Our team has a model for applying end-to-end encryption to this as well. It isn't a high priority for us to do it ourselves though, so if you are interested in getting involved, we can help explain all the algorithms for implementation!
It's a great tutorial but it's a long way from that high-level explanation of how it should work to a functional, working google docs clone!
I know you've already done a huge amount of work but enduser acceptance is what separates what you're doing from all the previous academic protocols out there. Nobody is going to switch from google docs to gundb if they are expected to write all the code themselves. OK, a small percentage, but not many.
Has anyone made anything similar that an enduser can just install and use? Even just a collaborative plain text editor would be a great start.
I've been interested in dat/hypercore lately. Is there any way that gundb could piggyback on hypercore for storage, or in your opinion would the fact that it's an append-only log be too limiting for gundb?
It is p2p and built on top of the Dat protocol (datproject.org)
The article suggests that in each step we'd expect a decentralised solution to make the smallest possible change, and indeed we do: All these services work by decentralising the operator. Every mastodon instance is able to censor itself, or its own view of the other instances, but when this kind of failure occurs users can easily find another instance that is more accommodating.
I cannot come to a conclusion on that question.
Not so easy: There are lots of other factors than cost which decide what wins in a market, such as
- being available at the right time (in the right place)