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posted by janrinok on Friday August 30 2019, @12:08PM   Printer-friendly

Mike Masnick, usually editor for Techdirt, has written an essay on a technological approach to preserving free speech online in spite of the direction things have been heading in regards to locked-in platforms. He proposes moving back to an Internet where protocols dominate.

This article proposes an entirely different approach—one that might seem counterintuitive but might actually provide for a workable plan that enables more free speech, while minimizing the impact of trolling, hateful speech, and large-scale disinformation efforts. As a bonus, it also might help the users of these platforms regain control of their privacy. And to top it all off, it could even provide an entirely new revenue stream for these platforms.

That approach: build protocols, not platforms.

To be clear, this is an approach that would bring us back to the way the internet used to be. The early internet involved many different protocols—instructions and standards that anyone could then use to build a compatible interface. Email used SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). Chat was done over IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Usenet served as a distributed discussion system using NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol). The World Wide Web itself was its own protocol: HyperText Transfer Protocol, or HTTP.

In the past few decades, however, rather than building new protocols, the internet has grown up around controlled platforms that are privately owned. These can function in ways that appear similar to the earlier protocols, but they are controlled by a single entity. This has happened for a variety of reasons. Obviously, a single entity controlling a platform can then profit off of it. In addition, having a single entity can often mean that new features, upgrades, bug fixes, and the like can be rolled out much more quickly, in ways that would increase the user base.

Earlier on SN:
Re-decentralizing the World-Wide Web (2019)
Decentralized Sharing (2014)


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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday August 30 2019, @01:01PM (10 children)

    Here's a better one for you: How do you pay employees without income?

    --
    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Arik on Friday August 30 2019, @01:54PM (3 children)

    by Arik (4543) on Friday August 30 2019, @01:54PM (#887744) Journal
    You don't.

    You either need to be fully staffed by users, or you need to be user supported.

    Advertising is the insidious force driving these 'platforms.' Advertising offers money up front - pay for it with your integrity later. With the money up front, you build and promote, you buy goodwill - and then you spend it.

    It's very hard to compete with in the short term, but in the long run surely no one wants to live in the world that creates.
    --
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday August 31 2019, @04:58AM (2 children)

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Saturday August 31 2019, @04:58AM (#888104) Homepage Journal

      You either need to be fully staffed by users, or you need to be user supported.

      Sure, let's make everything user-supported FOSS. I was getting tired of getting paid to be in the air conditioning anyway.

      Man, y'all pony up every time the bills are due around here but given that five years later we still haven't managed to refill NCommander and matt_'s wallets, I'm going to have to say this just ain't a viable model for anything with significant growth pressure.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 2) by Arik on Saturday August 31 2019, @05:19AM (1 child)

        by Arik (4543) on Saturday August 31 2019, @05:19AM (#888107) Journal
        It's a conundrum, I wish I had a better answer.

        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday August 31 2019, @01:15PM

          by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Saturday August 31 2019, @01:15PM (#888207) Homepage Journal

          The answer is publicize hobby things, small/simple but useful things, and things whose lockdown would be a net loss for itself and for whoever is going to hold equity (sweat or fiscal) in it. And to not publicize away your rent money or your employees' jobs.

          It's only actually a hard call if you're placing ideals over people.

          --
          My rights don't end where your fear begins.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Friday August 30 2019, @04:00PM (4 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday August 30 2019, @04:00PM (#887797)

    Why do you assume "don't charge for a protocol" = "no income"? There are ways of having income for software other than selling the code or the rules for making something work, e.g. support, begging for donations, or auctioning feature requests.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @04:46PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @04:46PM (#887818)

      None of those has paid the bills, generally speaking.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Thexalon on Friday August 30 2019, @04:56PM (2 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Friday August 30 2019, @04:56PM (#887830)

        Tell that to Red Hat, IBM, the Apache Software Foundation, and quite a few other organizations.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @11:22PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @11:22PM (#887963)

          IBM charging for "support, begging for donations, or auctioning feature requests"?
          What are you smoking? IBM is a systems integrator, not a small time beggar. RedHat did sell support licenses but they have been bought by IBM now, so I expect systems integration to make up a larger share of its business now. The last one, Apache, is a non profit. Do you think we can all work for non profits?

          And in the end, you have named large companies and a non profit. You still must still work for a big company to survive. Try surviving this way on your own...
          BTW, tell me if you support yourself using the means you recommend. I'm going to guess NO.

          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Saturday August 31 2019, @02:54PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Saturday August 31 2019, @02:54PM (#888226)

            I support myself by selling custom software work, where what my clients need isn't already out there on the market. And I do that on my own. It's not big bucks, but it's a living. It takes a certain amount of self-discipline, an ability to interact well with customers, and keeping your promises and taking responsibility for your failures so you build up a good reputation.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @09:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @09:59PM (#887936)

    Here's a better one for you: How do you pay employees without income?

    IPO!