We have 3 different offerings for this Summer. All incubator style, meaning you meet weekly or biweekly with mentors and we really try to help drive you from point A to point C.
1. $75k investment in a startup. MUST be serious about wanting to build something awesome and put in the hard work it takes to do so.
2. $16k funding in a much earlier stage project (idea stage / MVP stage). MUST be serious about commitment it takes to get to launch.
3. OPEN LABS: these are open to the entire community and you have access to the mentors. 10 min checkins each week & peer sessions. We've had TONS of amazing projects for our Open Labs in the Spring and we hope to see TONS more for the Summer.
In terms of MISSION and what we're looking for:
We started this new incubator out of Mozilla in order to work with & invest in developers, startups, and technology enthusiasts who are building things that will shape the internet and have a positive impact without needing to hyper focus on the bottom line. We call this our ”fix-the-internet” incubator.
Digital subscription rates have been rising, but not fast enough to subsist most publications without additional ad revenue.
My concern is that such a search engine would allow private interests to create "news/media/info" sites directly that qualify while long-respected publications are ostracized.
Great idea if the primary intent is to index other types of content outside of that sphere, but based on the history of the modern web I think we could expect that to be gamed pretty quickly in a detrimental way.
Even just writing this comment I keep coming into thoughts and it's making me realize what an interesting subject of discussion it could be. There's a lot of questions in there!
The best balance of privacy and user experience seems to be display ads related to search term context that don't do any tracking (like billboards in the real world). But even that isn't an easy proposition and will need a custom network built to generate those type of ads.
A lot of people say they will pay for a search engine, but it is such a small niche that I believe the cost would be prohibitively expensive, and the search engine would probably still be subpar to Google in many respect. Would you pay $10/month, what about $29? Those are most likely where the monthly fees would have to be for this type of product.
Excerpt from an old comment of mine :
Mozilla Research put the entire web's advertising revenue at $12.70/month per user. In other words, if they are right we are living with the consequences of advertising for a mere $13/month, $13 dollar they still get from us anyway because it's baked into the prices of the advertised products.
Anyhow, I'd love to see something like this. I've switched to DDG but often have to reach for Google if I can't find relevant results.
Two links came back:
"Facts on Farts"
Not a good first impression.
The simplest is "search for doc that contaons" . But we're used to "search for document about concept" by now. ISTRC Bing called themselves a "decision engine".
I don't know what Google is/trying to be now, but it often thinks it knows my business better than myself, excluding critical words.
I don't think there can be a universal answer. The corpus gathering is a huge barrier to entry, but having a common corpus would still allow room for competition on diversity of querying methods.
Atleast the title in firefox says:
> Wiby - Search Engine for the Classic Web
That's also probably why you didn't find any information on the svelte framework.
2. the purple for the links makes me think i've already clicked and seen everything
Huxley "The Doors of Perception" (1954):
>each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and perceiving everything that is happening everwhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.
We've all heard the comparisons between the brain and the internet. And we've all been overloaded at one point by the vast amounts of useless crap on the internet. So what about a site that allows users to customize their filters of reduction? You could have popular profiles premade and ready for tweaking, or you could go raw and witness an endless stream of information raked from all over.
What happens if you're a top result on the add free segment and you start incurring some level of costs? Do you drop off if you add an ad?
Granted I really like the idea, I'd love to see it tried, but I wonder what all the unintended consequences would be / skeptical of the value of segregating "ad-free" vs. "has an ad of any sort" vs. the sites that really are a mess.
I believe fastmail is like that.
Donations/patreon for one, then subscriptions. It should be possible to offer a contentless index for download (I estimate it could be around 50-200GB) and that could be a paid option.
I think that such sites would be in ballpark of a few ‰. That would enable me to offer the contentless index for download. With delta updates and torrent for distribution it could be not that expensive, but that's a thing that I could charge for.
My intention is to use AdBlock rules like easylist to check whether or not indeed the page.
My initial code is fine in Go, but I lost enthusiasm for Go lately and careerwise it's not a good fit for me (I don't have much time to learn something not as useful for me professionally). So I started to rewrite it in Rust, while learning it, you can laugh now (Rust Evangelism Strike Force el oh el). It has an advantage with ready to use rules parser from Brave  and presumably high quality tokenizer from html5ever .
I want to use a tokenizer instead of a full parser to be able to do stream processing bringing costs down.
Common Crawl data lays on S3 so the processing must be done initially on EC2 to keep it low cost.
 Current Go code: https://github.com/hadrianw/abracabra
Also for the search part I want to use something more stand alone than Elasticsearch to offer desktop search with downloaded index. When I started with Go I wanted to use Bleve , now I'm not sure, but I think that Bleve is getting mature enough. I will worry when I will have some data to search through.
Imagine you have a big vision to build something that betters the internet and you have only your life savings. Or you've been working on something for a while but haven't been able to put full effort into it.
This $75k is to kickstart teams & projects in "fixing the internet".
^ Probably a more succinct way to ask my question. I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to negatively paint the program, it's clearly more than most companies are doing to fix the internet. 75k is just the lowest amount of money I've seen with respect to incubators/funding (but again, I am not an expert).
We have some really good projects from this much smaller program, including https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/neutral/oagdejngkg... (Firefox extension releasing this week), https://ameelio.org/, and more!
So we're not entirely sure whether $75k is the right amount or not, BUT we do know that with $10k, we've had some really impressive projects.
Sorry about the broken site! We're currently fixing it up along with the release of our tool on Firefox!
This should be months, up to a year for 1-2 founder team.
3 people / 75k = 25k per person. At a reasonable 100k/year earning potential, that means that 75k a year is 3 months of time?
You can't walk away from your day job at $BIGCO, start your own company and expect to get paid like you used to, it doesn't work like that (at least at the beginning).
Your pay is having a large % ownership in (what you think will be) a valuable company down the line.
My issue, I guess, is not with salary, but moreso the value add. 75k does not seem like enough to A.) Live on, really, B.) Extend runway, really, C.) "Fix the internet", really. I can understand trading in cash for agency, I would absolutely do it. But this doesn't really seem like that either, given that presumably lots of founders would need to either seek further funding or work second jobs.
It's also not just the money. It's credibility by being invested in mozilla (and an investor who is invested in you having more successful funding rounds), it's the marketing and hype that come with it, it's the opportunities to employ people, it's the connections that come from being acquainted with investors and a tech giant, etc.
Two people living on 38k a year sounds like a great way to not have legitimate talent apply.
The better the ideas to fix the internet, the less they will generate revenue. So that's kind of a catch-22. It often takes years to build an idea, and tens of millions $.
This is certainly not limiting and we know that there are more categories and just this, but it's a start.
not just adding protocol support to gemini:// but have FF check first if the content can be fetched via gemini:// and if yes then default to using it instead.
reader-view is great but you can't switch to it until all the crap has been already loaded. supporting gemini would increase privacy, and let the users decide if they prefer content with ads and bloat and malware or rather just read without distraction.
It's at https://github.com/cabalamat/meowcat2
Is this the sort of thing Mozilla would be interested in?
This may be a stupid question but ... what are you looking for in the "affiliation" field in the Application?
Just a bit of background. This was practically made for us. We've built a "Social Operating System for the Web", an open source platform that lets any organizations have their own Facebook-level online community as easily as they can have a blog with Wordpress. We have poured years into this, attracted 8 million users in over 95+ countries, and are definitely in it for the long haul. (https://qbix.com/platform)
Put the school you went to or the last company you worked at, if it still exists when you apply!
This is exciting, I honestly feel our company was made for this, or perhaps vice versa. Either way, Mozilla's accelerator is the best fit for what we are doing :)
best thing to do is join our slack (https://join.slack.com/t/mozillabuilders/shared_invite/zt-el...), and join for open office hours and see if you can get feedback from one of the mentors.
regardless, you can def apply! no downsides.
People in the 1990's who wanted "e-commerce" got their wish. Certain companies and individuals have become wealthy beyond imagination. Companies are hording cash. However it is not an equal playing field.
Governments have heretofore been unwilling to regulate. Some, those who are proifiting from the status quo, might say this is starting to change. Even if this is true, the change is very slow. In Mozilla Corporation's domicile, there has been no significant change.
Mozilla is funded indirectly by advertising. Their funding comes from Google. Google's funding comes from advertisers.
If you are going to recommend regulation the only thing that works, as exemplified by every other profession, is credentials: licensing and certification. There would be less bad software in the world if there were less bad software developers employed writing software and everybody else held to a minimum ethical standard.
Right now, at least before COVID, there was no motivation to write good software. Many developers, at least web developers whether front or back end, only goal was employability which often meant tooling to a tech stack and trying not to write original software.
Edit: I anticipate this will be downvoted extensively, because regulating minimal developer competence is always heavily down voted. It’s curious though that people claim there is a problem they want fixed only until they realize the fix applies directly to them, at which point the problem is no longer worth the effort.
No one wants regulation but without it, a few large companies are going to be the ones making the "rules". The future of the internet's design will be crafted to fuel their continued survival. I have been watching this happen since the birth of the web. It is easier to see when you do not work in the industry.
Imagine if advertising did not subsidise your work and you had to sell your software. How much would people pay? Yes, there would be motivation to write original, quality software. But this is a terrifying idea to today's software "engineers". The hell with good software, they want to get paid. Advertisers can make that happen.
If someone really believes the internet and advertising are like chocolate and peanut butter -- they go great together -- just look at what has happened to "news", a profession that, like today's "tech" industry, relies on advertising to survive. Every day people come to HN to complain about the ridiculous headlines, bias, sensationalism, etc. We are losing serious journalism. We are also losing serious software. From where I sit, we are losing a lot. Whatever we are gaining seems like a poor tradeoff.
You wrote a brilliant app but lack a license? No audience for you.
Also, if you have to produce an MVP to the same building code as a house with 50 years of expected use requires, this is death to all but exceptionally well-funded innovation.
> Also, if you have to produce an MVP to the same building code as a house with 50 years of expected use requires
That is not an MVP.
If everything you build should be built to last in order to ever be exposed to public, the rate of experimentation will slow down a lot, so finding a product-market fit would become very hard. Look at the glacial pace of progress in, say, light aviation where Cessnas with engines from 1980s still rule, because certification of a new engine is so hard.
I suspect this becomes more true the closer you get to the metal. As a web developer I have never seen web application code that is built to last, at least in the corporate world. I know its possible to build software in this space that is built to last, because web standards are solid and almost always backward compatible.
Developers in this space are more interested in employable criteria, such as well known named frameworks and tools from NPM. I have heard all kinds of excuses to justify that behavior as somehow credible, but its never based on evidence. The reasoning and excuses always ultimately exist solely to serve the needs of the developer and not the business or product, which is an ethics violation. The near universal presence of that behavior does not make it qualified.
On the other hand, other industries with certification and oaths are much more shady. You can't hammer ethics through academics. If anything, current academical culture encourages being unethical and liar while disguising as opposite. In my own experience, people who seem obsessed with degrees and accredition were the most unethical I had seen. They usually are in management position or law/government stuff.
So I downvoted this comment despite agreeing because this doesn't seem practical. This is unnecessary gatekeeping that will disproportionately affect "poor" people and increase status quo for no benefit in return.
Likewise, not everybody who graduates law school should be a lawyer. Education in other industries is just a prerequisite of a larger process and certainly not a qualifier. Other industries solve for this problem with either broker/agent relationships or through forced internships. Those filtering criteria are built into the licensing process and result in forced mentoring at the liability of a license holder.
everything will end up pointing at some random AWS IP address, and you can't filter that
Here is a question for you. Would you prefer that these options be
a. only run-time (hopefully not set to defaults that suit advertising and tracking),
b. only compile-time (imagining further that these browsers could be compiled with less resources and in less time), or
Regulation always requires coordination, which is simply not possible at internet scale. Facebook and Twitter can't even regulate the content on their own platforms, and you're talking about regulation at an even larger scale against strong interests with large financial reserves.
What's needed is a secure/private by default browser sandbox so these interests have no say in how their content is consumed. Take a look the extremes Gemini has gone to ensure privacy . Some of those can be relaxed without compromising privacy much, but a serious effort along those lines is what's actually needed.
Because you can enforce it at the point of sale, ie. selling X happens in a limited geographical region which can be enforced.
The "point of sale" equivalent on the internet is the browser, which is exactly where I said the privacy properties need to be enforced.
Finally, it's frankly absurd to want inefficient and expensive legal controls when cheap and automatic technological controls are perfectly feasible. Why involve the various governments at all?
How are we supposed to know this given that they don't have an actual incentive to do so? Look at the allegedly "unworkable" enforcement of hate-speech legislation in say, Germany. What did Facebook do when they were faced with 4% global revenue fines? Hire some moderators and it appears to work reasonbaly well.
Same goes for advertising. Get out the hammer and I bet it wouldn't take long until those companies suddenly discover how creative they can be in cleaning their act up.
No it doesn't. Facebook is a highly visibile, monolithic entity. If you only have a few bad actors legislation works fine. This isn't the case here.
If you want a more apt analogy, the fight against privacy violations in advertising is much closer to the fight against piracy: it will never go away, no matter how many legal restrictions you put in place, unless there's a technological solution that prevents it from the get-go. There probably isn't for piracy, but there is for privacy.
printf "GET /gemini/gemini.circumlunar.space/servers/ HTTP/1.1\r\nHost: portal.mozz.us\r\nConnection: close\r\n\r\n"|socat - ssl:portal.mozz.us:443
printf "/servers\r\n"|socat - gemini.circumlunar.space:1965
printf "gemini://gemini.circumlunar.space/servers/\r\n"|socat - ssl:gemini.circumlunar.space:1965
Google helped write GDPR.
I am tired of hearing this troupe of putting more and more regulations to stop shit from breaking when exactly this caused monopolies in many traditional sectors that haven't been changed since like forever because the red tape to do anything requires a team of expensive lawyers.
If you are for more regulation, please at least come up with a way to regulate that seems practical.
Another favourite is "I see unethical behaviour at my job, but if I quit nothing would change, therefore I will keep helping them do what they do."
If laws were passed that gave users a cause of action against Google and Facebook for breaking rules, then there would be some motivation for those companies to change their behaviour.
It is sad but that is how corporate behaviour is shaped in America. Threat of litigation. Fear.
Empowering David to keep Goliath honest. That is one of the ideals America was once known for. Big tech however knows no David. They have little to fear.
Alternatively you can support the "system" we have now -- tweet and/or post your complaints to the web, which of course Big Tech is controlling and monitoring. Vent your frustrations till you turn blue. This system is not working. Nothing is changing. These companies are doing things users know is wrong but none of this violates any law or any user's rights in America.
I am not for more regulation. I am for change. Giving David the ability to take on Goliath is one way to facilitate change that is known to work in America. Is it perfect? Not even close, but it is effective at changing corporate behaviour.
Choosing to shoot down every proposed solution is also choosing to keep things the way they are. Sitting on your hands is not keeping things from getting worse.
I never said anything about GDPR and personally I was never a fan. However I do appreciate that it is something. Someone, outisde America, had the balls to take action.
There is a clear precedent that fining doesn't stop companies and political systems won't overfine. So are you going to fine companies more? Are you going to limit the number of fines and dissolve the company? Are you going to propose another GDPR-eiqsque but for advertising? Because GDPR helped big companies - especially ad networks. What happens when companies become too big (as if they aren't already)? Do you really believe government can always do what it wants with the big companies?
No. History has proved it wrong multiple times. Companies used to slave and colonize countries. Today, they probably won't do that. They can just push misinformation and change behavior by manipulating what you see/hear/read. They are going to affect your government officials and policy makers. Those use facebook and google too probably. Your president use twitter, are twitter's algorithm manipulating him? Have you seen his feed? What if his feed is an echo chamber?
What is the actual regulation? I am not against change but if you don't specify how, then I am not sure it's a conversation worth having. Everyone wants things to change. Some people would like if everyone moved to fb. But without explaining your position with actual stats, how your solution will likely affect the problems, how am I going to differentiate your proposal from several thousands asking for more consolidation i.e opposite of what you are asking.
Other industries have to contend with the threat of such lawsuits. Big tech is mostly free from such threats.
This is not "my" solution. This is "a" solution. You only want specifics so you can shoot it down.
If online advertising was regulated, e.g., prohibited, then it would take away some of the incentive for Facebook and Google to profit from data collected from/on users. We already saw this "no advertising" rule in effect when commercial use of the early internet was prohibited. AFAIK it was not backed by any legislation. We saw the Google founders release their work as an academic project vowing to combat internet advertising. We saw the Facebook founders disagreeing over whether to show ads. We can see how things played out. The temptation of onlne ads was just too great. Now they are beholden to Wall Street to keep up the surveillance and keep selling ads.
This time around, we could permit commercial transactions, including "e-commerce", but we could prohibit the use of the internet to advertise with violations giving way to not just fines, but potential for lawsuits from end users against advertisers and anyone selling online ads or online ad services.
I have never heard any argument that claimed that what Facebook does is valuable only if they are allowed to use the data they collect in any way they choose. If Facebook was simply a service to allow users to have a page on the Facebook website, and the company was not allowed to conduct surveillance and give third parties (e.g., advertisers) access to those users, I think users would still find Facebook valuable.
If users would not pay for such a service, then the problem is Facebook's, not users'. This is why "Facebook will always be free." It must be free. Otherwise users would find other free solutions.
I believe were Facebook to begin charging fees, we would still find ways to use the web to share photos/video and exchange messages with each other, through a website, for free. Facebook could prove me wrong by charging fees to all their users and letting us see what happens. They will not do that. They are afraid to test their monetary worth to end users.
It is the same story with Google, their search engine and all the works they acquired from third parties, which users often believe Google developed in-house. Those "services" have value to users apart from being vehicles in which Google collects more data and otherwise strengthens their online ad services business.
The aim of this legislation would be to force companies wishing to do business on the internet to sell, for money, something of value to users (cf. third parties) instead of simply operating as middlemen conducting surveillance for the benefit of third parties. No more "user is the product".
Now let's hear about your solution. After all, you stated "Everyone wants things to change" and that must include you.
I remember diligently cataloging my movie preferences in LoveFilm, a UK Netflix competitor (when Netflix was a movie-by-mail company). I think I rated thousands of movies. I did the same in Netflix, certainly hundreds of films before they changed their rating scheme to thumbs up and "preference rating". Yet I have no access to this data.
We often talk about how much companies know about us. Google knows what search terms I search for. Facebook knows what content I slow down on while scrolling my feed. Youtube knows what videos I watch. My cell phone company probably knows the location of my cell every minute of the day. And outside of the horrible interfaces they have been regulated to provide me access to that data ... it is almost completely opaque to me.
Re-thinking data isn't the kind of thing a startup can do. I think we need to find legal mechanisms to really force companies to make data available to the originators of that data. IMO, that is the only way we salvage the Internet.
You are completely correct, but unfortunately it's not fun and quite frustrating to work with government, and you're competing with lobbyists that Facebook and Google have a financial interest in supporting.
It's annoying, but it's not too bad, because after having looked at their deceptive, user-hostile (and in my opinion illegal in the EU) practices, I'm pretty resigned to never going to another oath/guce site again.
It's sites like techcrunch and their siblings that are breaking the internet.
> uMatrix has prevented the following page from loading:
Yes, there is a dire need for fixing the Internet.
Oh, by the way, remember, when fixing the Internet tools and protocols... The following sentence was written thinking of aircraft hull design, isn't a browser some kind of "netcraft" that has become too complicated and needs a redesign?
"It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove." (Antoine de Saint Exupéry)
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Edit: Or maybe I have a very different view of what fixing the internet means. The peertube content sponsoring currently on the frontpage seems much more constructive to me.
I’m thinking something just like Firefox, except unencumbered by Google or other corporate affiliations, etc.
I think this would be the best first step towards any kind of “fixing the Internet”.
People at Mozilla care so much about privacy, to the point that (when I worked there 2010-2012), they refused to do "services" the same way Google did (aka a login and a central server). So as a result, Chrome "just worked" and Firefox was completely unusable.
The people at Mozilla really care about privacy. But they also have to build something people can actually use. That means finding a balance between privacy and usability.
To you it's "fixing the Internet", but to most normal people it's "removing features." Like, can you imagine explaining to the average user why they can't just type a search into the address bar and get Google results?
(More specifically, though, what would you strip? Pocket is owned by Mozilla and is just a fancy bookmark manager, but sure. Google is just a default search; data isn't being sent to them. Outside of those, what would you remove?)
> More specifically, though, what would you strip?
Telemetry and the normandy/shield backdoor first of all. Then remove the google analytics from the about:addons page (or at least let adblockers work on it). Then let adblockers work on the mozilla pages. Then disable things like pings, beacons, etc by default and integrate more tor browser patches.
Firefox right now is the browser that calls back the most https://twitter.com/jonathansampson/status/11658588961766604...
As for Pocket, Mozilla promised ages ago to make the server foss, still no luck with it.
You mean, apart from everything typed in the URL bar by default?
I think Mozilla found the perfect solution to services. They provide a service and open source the implementation . This gives a "just works" option (which is still probably setting a pretty high privacy bar because it's Mozilla) and a fully self-hosted ultra-private option for those who want to go the extra mile.
At least I haven't seen it yet.
Pocket is very necessary for some FF users (myself included).
We need a new Gecko - perhaps a fork of something else with all the resources Gecko gets put into it.
To try to "fix the internet" in a commercial way just feels a little awkward.
Furthermore, web browsers need to be fixed too, to give the user enough ropes to hang themself and also a few more just in case, and to block commands coming from the server.
Furthermore, web browser should be deprecated for many things. There is such thing as Telnet, SSH, NNTP, IRC, etc, that can be in use, that should be encouraged to be in use.
Furthermore, you could host stuff on your own computer if necessary.
I also like the idea (mentioned in another comment) to call much of the mess as "internet pollution". Yes, these ads, scripts, etc, wastes bandwidth, so it is "internet pollution".
I want a better internet but I don't want to go back to the past.
The complexity of a browser and the complexity of a media player are extremely different. To make a huge generalisation, the latter is far more maths-heavy and less interactive. I have played around with writing decoders for a few codecs, and to a first approximation, they are very similar, so it's not hard to see how something like VLC was created. Media formats are also relatively stable, it's not like a new one comes out every few months.
On the other hand, the modern browser has many different components that a very wide breadth of knowledge is necessary, and on top of that, companies like Google are paying a great many people to do what appears to simply be churning the "standards" and continuously increasing their complexity, making it harder for others to even keep up. They invented the absurd oxymoron "living standard". Their common euphemism for that is "pushing the web forward".
The great diversity of media players vs. the effective monopoly of browser(s) already shows this huge difference.
The need to breach the duopoly in mobile smartphone ecosystem is now greater than ever if we need to protect the future of mobile computing and the data(lifestyle) of individuals using it; considering smartphone is the first computer for ~ > half of world population.
I am going through Patrick's post here, and the website but still really no clue what is "fix-the-internet"?
Wordpress, DDG, Kickstarter have very different purposes. If the definition is so broad then I could surely fall into it. How does one know?
LMK if you have any questions!
My big idea is that we have to fix the internet. After forty years, it has begun to corrode, both itself and us. It is still a marvelous and miraculous invention, but now there are bugs in the foundation, bats in the belfry, and trolls in the basement.
I do not mean this to be one of those technophobic rants dissing the Internet for rewiring our brains to give us the twitchy attention span of Donald Trump on Twitter or pontificating about how we have to log off and smell the flowers. Those qualms about new technologies have existed ever since Plato fretted that the technology of writing would threaten memorization and oratory. I love the internet and all of its digital offshoots. What I bemoan is its decline.
There is a bug in its original design that at first seemed like a feature but has gradually, and now rapidly, been exploited by hackers and trolls and malevolent actors: its packets are encoded with the address of their destination but not of their authentic origin. With a circuit-switched network, you can track or trace back the origins of the information, but that’s not true with the packet-switched design of the internet.
Compounding this was the architecture that Tim Berners-Lee and the inventors of the early browsers created for the World Wide Web. It brilliantly allowed the whole of the earth’s computers to be webbed together and navigated through hyperlinks. But the links were one-way. You knew where the links took you. But if you had a webpage or piece of content, you didn’t exactly know who was linking to you or coming to use your content.
All of that enshrined the potential for anonymity. You could make comments anonymously. Go to a webpage anonymously. Consume content anonymously. With a little effort, send email anonymously. And if you figured out a way to get into someone’s servers or databases, you could do it anonymously.
For years, the benefits of anonymity on the Net outweighed its drawbacks. People felt more free to express themselves, which was especially valuable if they were dissidents or hiding a personal secret. This was celebrated in the famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Now the problem is nobody can tell if you’re a troll. Or a hacker. Or a bot. Or a Macedonian teenager publishing a story that the Pope has endorsed Trump.
This has poisoned civil discourse, enabled hacking, permitted cyberbullying, and made email a risk. Its inherent lack of security has allowed Russian actors to screw with our democratic process.
The lack of secure identification and authentication inherent in the internet’s genetic code has also prevented easy transactions, thwarted financial inclusion, destroyed the business models of content creators, unleashed deluges of spam, and forced us to use passwords and two-factor authentication schemes that would have baffled Houdini.
The trillions being spent and the IQ points of computer science talent being allocated to tackle security issues makes it a drag, rather than a spur, to productivity in some sectors.
In Plato’s Republic, we learn the tale of the Ring of Gyges. Put it on, and you’re invisible and anonymous. The question that Plato asks is whether those who put on the ring will be civil and moral. He thinks not. The Internet has proven him correct.
The Web is no longer a place of community, no longer an agora. Every day more sites are eliminating comments sections.
If we could start from scratch, here’s what I think we would do:
Create a system that enables content producers to negotiate with aggregators and search engines to get a royalty whenever their content is used, like ASCAP has negotiated for public performances and radio airings of its members’ works.
Embed a simple digital wallet and currency for quick and easy small payments for songs, blogs, articles, and whatever other digital content is for sale.
Encode emails with an authenticated return or originating address.
Enforce critical properties and security at the lowest levels of the system possible, such as in the hardware or in the programming language, instead of leaving it to programmers to incorporate security into every line of code they write.
Build chips and machines that update the notion of an internet packet. For those who want, their packets could be encoded or tagged with metadata that describe what they contain and give the rules for how it can be used.
Most internet engineers think that these reforms are possible, from Vint Cerf, the original TCP/IP coauthor, to Milo Medin of Google, to Howard Shrobe, the director of cybersecurity at MIT. “We don’t need to live in cyber hell,” Shrobe has argued.
Implementing them is less a matter of technology than of cost and social will. Some people, understandably, will resist any diminution of anonymity, which they sometimes label privacy.
So the best approach, I think, would be to try to create a voluntary system, for those who want to use it, to have verified identification and authentication.
People would not be forced to use such a system. If they wanted to communicate and surf anonymously, they could. But those of us who choose, at times, not to be anonymous and not to deal with people who are anonymous should have that right as well. That’s the way it works in the real world.
The benefits would be many: Easy and secure ways to deal with your finances and medical records. Small payment systems that could reward valued content rather than the current incentive to concentrate on clickbait for advertising. Less hacking, spamming, cyberbullying, trolling, and the spewing of anonymous hate. And the possibility of a more civil discourse.
The fact that this issue has gone unresolved for this many years is completely unacceptable.
Apple is in no way the worst offender, but they are in many ways the largest.
With great prominence comes great indifference it seems.
How can anyone defend the decline in quality Apple's entire line has suffered in the past years. Qualities that enabled my personal development as a software engineer, creative hobbyist, and overall human being are now trashed like yesterdays news. Ideas critical to the foundation of the industry, now forgotten or unlearned.
I'm becoming desperate for action, but remain paralyzed by the scope. Please forgive me for not throwing away my iPhone sooner.
I think we're probably all desperate for action and paralyzed by the scope, in a number of ways. Don't beat yourself up about it, there's only so much control you have over the situation. What I suggested is not simple, but it is possible and may be the only control you have in the end.
Funny. I'm seeing how the Web is being fucked over in exactly these areas, and yet I don't see Mozilla doing anything to stop it. Quite the opposite, they contribute to it and follow Google's lead on most of the issues.
Here is the simplest and incredibly impactful user empowerment idea. Assume I have a computer with Firefox and an internet connection. Can I open the browser, press "make a web page" button and create a page with a stable URL (probably a GUID) accessible to other people? Without creating an account some or doing some nerdy shit. Nope.
Well, the fact that this basic idea still isn't implemented in the age of "cloud computing" tells you everything you need to know about whether major player in the market (which Mozilla will soon cease to be) want to empower their users.
Cloudflare has an ipfs gateway. https://blog.cloudflare.com/distributed-web-gateway/
The Brave browser also supports ipfs out of the box.
This is the Web 3.0 movement. The distributed web is on its way.
Tor hidden services don't provide permanent storage. It's just a routing protocol.
BitTorrent doesn't guarantee storage, either. A popular site will remain de facto stable, but the long tail is a different story.
Every. Single. Time. This idea comes up, and it always fails because the economics just don't work out. Someone needs to take care of all those terabytes of data. Routing is pretty cheap, and can basically be thought of as solved by Tor, I2P, IPFS, BitTorrent, etc. If you're willing to keep your PC on 24/7, it's easy, but nobody can expect that.
The closest you can get is FreeNet. Kinda. It's better than BitTorrent, but still worse than S3, because of course it is, it's free.
A much more sensible response would be "That button lets them pay $2/year for a basic hosting account which makes the service self sustaining".
Edit: you sound a bit rattled. I didn’t mean to instigate.
edit: Beaker browser is what youre looking for