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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, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @07:15PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @07:15PM (#887881)

    The presentation is part of the message. Using derogatory misnomers hurts your message in multiple ways. It increases the mental effort your reader has to go through to decipher what you are saying, if they actually get that far. Using it early on also makes it look like immature trolling or reactionary ranting, neither of which is usually informative or insightful, before getting to the meat of the argument. It also speaks to motive as pettiness, and that is also not a sign of a well-thought-out writing. Combine the above with conspiracy theories about the government, and you've just made yourself that much easier to dismiss as inane ramblings before the opportunity to inform.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 01 2019, @03:28AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 01 2019, @03:28AM (#888383)

    The presentation is part of the message. Using derogatory misnomers hurts your message in multiple ways. It increases the mental effort your reader has to go through to decipher what you are saying, if they actually get that far.

    That's subjective. You never know what stupid thing or choice of words will set off some fragile snowflake and increase the mental effort they must expend to read your post. Worrying about it is a waste of time.

    and you've just made yourself that much easier to dismiss as inane ramblings before the opportunity to inform.

    Maybe that says more about the critical thinking skills of the reader than anything else.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 01 2019, @05:37AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 01 2019, @05:37AM (#888400)

      Two scientists know for a fact that the world is going to end and has the evidence to prove it. One tells you calmly, on television as part of an international broadcast shown simultaneously around the world. The other tells you while running down the sidewalk of a public park while screaming at the top of his lungs. Which do you listen to and which do you dismiss as just another mentally-ill individual after the first few sentences?