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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: 3, Interesting) by dmc on Saturday August 31 2019, @03:11AM

    by dmc (188) on Saturday August 31 2019, @03:11AM (#888073)

    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.

    "can often mean" sounds apologist to me on the heels of "Obviously, a single
        entity controlling a platform can then profit off of it.".

    Amongst the variety, at the top of my short list is how the fcc (and mainstream/tech journalism) has generally ignored home server prohibition as a meaningful facet of the 'network neutrality' big picture. To me the freedom to operate servers is the atomic reduction of free speech capability via the internet. Or, to reply to the summary, protocols that can be arbitrarily dorked with by profit-seeking corporations are not going to get you Free Speech. If the FCC wasn't corrupt, they would have admitted home servers are first class device citizens when it comes to so-called network neutrality, and the next day we would have seen an exponential increase in interesting protocol development. The powers that be have managed however to thwart what network neutrality should have become in that regard. As it stands now, any newly developed protocol will undoubtedly get contained/absorbed by the establishment. Because the big$ players are not fools.

    http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7522219498 [fcc.gov]
    (sha512sum:9a9e4138caebb6fc5615fef76275b2f3c8e6826b81ea4c45cd892e96
    5950fa7df794ad7a96322da9991fa029c8843930366c48c9473aadcd28402864e50d2230)

    or the pdf I sent them (almost twice the filesize, not for any reason I understand precisely)

    http://cloudsession.com/dawg/downloads/misc/kag-draft-k12... [cloudsession.com]
    (sha512sum:ff551477ffca3c069f6d8fe6c435acda8d70411f2e7b003ed53e8372
    0eae37249d04260544639791f3a7b989c730ad8e1b16c44334b0a83a7c44d7d22134a9a6)

    https://lwn.net/Articles/658006/ [lwn.net]

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