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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @11:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 30 2019, @11:27PM (#887969)

    You are comparing Berners-Lee to ESR?
    Jesus! Can you even name a widely used piece of software by ESR? He is famous for his WRITING, not his software.

  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday August 31 2019, @07:35AM

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 31 2019, @07:35AM (#888148) Journal
    I'm not comparing TBL to ESR - but both have made significant contributions to the world of software. You shouldn't, IMHO, judge a person on a single metric while ignoring the others. I happen to think that NTP using text is a reasonable idea worth considering. Most of the configuration files in Linux are text based. It is easy to understand and to use, everyone has the tools to view or to modify them, and they work. What are your technical objections - not just that it is 'a stupid step backwards'. Why is sending text over the internet such a bad thing?
    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.