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posted by martyb on Wednesday October 12 2016, @01:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-run-your-OWN-facebook-at-home dept.

The original purpose of the web and internet, if you recall, was to build a common neutral network which everyone can participate in equally for the betterment of humanity. Fortunately, there is an emerging movement to bring the web back to this vision and it even involves some of the key figures from the birth of the web. It's called the Decentralised Web or Web 3.0, and it describes an emerging trend to build services on the internet which do not depend on any single "central" organisation to function.

So what happened to the initial dream of the web? Much of the altruism faded during the first dot-com bubble, as people realised that an easy way to create value on top of this neutral fabric was to build centralised services which gather, trap and monetise information.

[...] There are three fundamental areas that the Decentralised Web necessarily champions: privacy, data portability and security.

Privacy: Decentralisation forces an increased focus on data privacy. Data is distributed across the network and end-to-end encryption technologies are critical for ensuring that only authorized users can read and write. Access to the data itself is entirely controlled algorithmically by the network as opposed to more centralized networks where typically the owner of that network has full access to data, facilitating customer profiling and ad targeting.
Data Portability: In a decentralized environment, users own their data and choose with whom they share this data. Moreover they retain control of it when they leave a given service provider (assuming the service even has the concept of service providers). This is important. If I want to move from General Motors to BMW today, why should I not be able to take my driving records with me? The same applies to chat platform history or health records.
Security: Finally, we live in a world of increased security threats. In a centralized environment, the bigger the silo, the bigger the honeypot is to attract bad actors. Decentralized environments are safer by their general nature against being hacked, infiltrated, acquired, bankrupted or otherwise compromised as they have been built to exist under public scrutiny from the outset.

In the Web 3.0 I want a markup tag that delivers a nasty shock to cyber-spies...

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  • (Score: 5, Touché) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Wednesday October 12 2016, @02:47PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Wednesday October 12 2016, @02:47PM (#413459)

    You wanted it. We had an open, noncommercial, decentralized Internet in the mid-90s. People voted for a closed, walled-garden dominated, commercial Internet. No one forced anyone to abandon the open web and open software development for closed platforms and walled gardens. They did it because that's what they wanted. If we built this whatever-it-is, either no one would use it (remember the decentralized social media alternative? me either) or a few years later it would be just like the Internet today. Like Lemmy said, "But don't forget you made the choice, / You made your mark, you raised your voice" and you have what you have today.

    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @04:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @04:50PM (#413525)

    All the open social platforms I saw had annoying barriers to entry. It should not be any more difficult than visiting a page, creating your account in a few simple steps, then logging on and participating. We didn't have blockchain software back then which is what a lot of the decentralized projects rely on now.

  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Wednesday October 12 2016, @04:58PM

    by mcgrew (701) <> on Wednesday October 12 2016, @04:58PM (#413529) Homepage Journal

    The open, noncommercial, decentralized Internet is still around; example []. Er, S/N is an even better example. It's just that the open, noncommercial, decentralized Internet has been buried in commercial content, just making it harder to find.

    I do miss the days when the only ads we had to bitch and moan about were small banner ads.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @05:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @05:06PM (#413535)

      How is SN a decentralized site? Open and noncommercial, sure. Decentralized? I don't think so.

      • (Score: 2) by mechanicjay on Wednesday October 12 2016, @05:51PM

        by mechanicjay (7) <{mechanicjay} {at} {}> on Wednesday October 12 2016, @05:51PM (#413562) Homepage Journal

        Fair Enough. All our nodes are running in the same datacenter. We could decentralize a bit by moving redundant nodes to different geographic areas. Makes note to discuss this with people I realize though, that this type of decentralization isn't quite what the article is talking about, but is important for resiliency and redundancy.

        My VMS box beat up your Windows box.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:05PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:05PM (#413567)

          I would love to see SN roll out a test of one of the truly distributed systems, where users can play host to the data. I'll have to do a little research to find the examples already being made (and sadly they're mostly JS based) but it seems like something this site would be perfect for. The only sticky problem I can see is user authentication and info storage... even with a good crypto scheme I don't think too many people would be happy having their account details sent to every other user.

          • (Score: 2) by fleg on Thursday October 13 2016, @05:52AM

            by fleg (128) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 13 2016, @05:52AM (#413781)

            >user authentication

            to start with maybe you could just use it for AC's?

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by NCommander on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:03PM

        by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <> on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:03PM (#413566) Homepage Journal

        We've looked at providing a bi-directional gateway to USENET in the past but I never got it finished due to technical hangups and the fact that NNTP/Usenet is a miserable protocol for anything that can be dynamic since you have manage cancels and such.

        If someone wants to take the existing code and make it work, I'll be glad to feed it into USENET.

        Still always moving
      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:09PM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:09PM (#413569) Journal

        It is not decentralized, that is true. But as much as TFS points out the need for people to retain control of their own data, we do go a fair way to achieving this. We allow comments from Anon Cowards, and we do not keep connection data in a way that can be linked back to the originator - it is hashed so that ACs can be deconflicted - but we cannot give IP data to anyone who demands it. We simply haven't got it, as far as I know. And, again as far as I know, we do keep connection data from anyone attacking the site (spam or DDos for example) but only so that we can block that IP for our own protection.

        I'm not the person to say how easy it would be to make SN decentralized - not an area that I have any knowledge or expertise in - but if anyone knows any software that might be useful it could be worth a submission and discussion. But I'm fairly certain that we don't have the capacity to go it alone with such a concept with our current situation.

        If you compare SN to the more famous social media sites we do protect personal data, we do not sell or otherwise use that data, and we don't cooperate with anyone trying to track our users. We meet our legal obligations but don't have much information to give to anyone. But, on the other hand, we are unlikely to be floated on the stock exchange in the foreseeable future either...

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:46PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @06:46PM (#413579)

          That is all fine and good, but users rely on the integrity of the admins. It would be nice if the features were baked into code. It is a huge project, but one I would be willing to invest time in. The biggest problem I see with decentralization is that it becomes much harder to filter spam bots, and user data is an issue. Strong crypto would be good, but doesn't quite replace the single protected location of a server.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @08:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12 2016, @08:11PM (#413619)

    Email(SMTP/POP3/IMAP) - Still aruond, but many hosts filtered completely by big email providers. Some even lagging messages by hours or days.
    Usenet(NNTP) - The original web forums as well as bittorrent. Pushed to closure between the 90s and early '00s as part of both the crackdown on pirated (insert item here) as well as excessive bandwidth usage by people abusing usenet messages to send ascii encoded binary files as 'attachments' taking up more bandwidth than most ISPs had allocated for their USERs. Resulted in first the dropping of usenet binary groups, then an ever increasing number of non-binary groups (when those users migrated), and eventually cumulating in ISPs dropping it as a pro-bono service.
    Jabber (XMPP) - The 'future' of IMing. Google, Facebook, others all hopped on the bandwagon. For a while it seems like it was poised to take over the IM industry and provide for it what SMTP and company provided for email. It had email-like addresses, virtual business cards, directory services for corporate prescences, etc. Destroyed thanks to sheeple joining proprietary services instead (Kik, originally XMPP moved proprietary protocol, GTalk and Facebook Messenger as well, which migrated away from XMPP access and federation.) Blamable on user apathy and spam (Which should have been simple enough to fix by requiring authorization before messages could be send.)
    Diaspora, Friendica, others: Distributed facebook/myspace/livejourhal alternatives. These particular implementations were late to the party, however allowed moving your profile data between services. Problems? Issues with sccraping, but moreover everyone already tied to their current social network presence and unwilling to move. Same issue affected Google's facebook clone.

    Gnutella/eDonkey/Torrents/etc: Lack of anonymity, new alternatives for users (mostly proprietary.)

    I am sure there are other examples, but the gist from this is user apathy, spam/excessive traffic, and legal hurdles have all conspired to kill open technologies, and instead see proprietary solutions continue to dominate. It is also to a certain degree proprietary tribalism, same as all the people continuing to use windows or osx when free alternatives that COULD offer them choice are available.

  • (Score: 2) by dmc on Thursday October 13 2016, @03:21AM

    by dmc (188) on Thursday October 13 2016, @03:21AM (#413751)

    No one forced anyone to abandon the open web

    I don't think that's entirely true, but I am stretching things a bit (to the extent that so called "business class" or "server hosting allowed" internet access subscriptions exist, usually at much higher prices than ordinary residential subscribers are used to paying. However I do believe that such a hurdle presents the primary impediment to the submitter's "web 3.0". It surprises me that Snowden doesn't seem to notice the issue. This "web 3.0" idea in the absence of that acknowledgement, sounds to me like a centralized set of power players trying to deploy their crafted equivalent of the more general idea I advocate - "let everyone run their own mail/web/usenet/etfuckingetera server if they want to without having to pay for the lexus lane". Once you have that large a set of potential users, testers, and codevelopers for free and open source server software- oh, it will be a nice day. However the same playing field with users, testers, and codevelopers having to pay double or more the price for their internet access if they want to use such decentralized applications- will result in exactly what we see today. I.e. massive continued centralization that spooks and advertisers are all for keeping just like it is. [] [] [] [] []