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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)

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by jmichaelhudsondotnet on Saturday August 31 2019, @09:14AM (1 child)

    by jmichaelhudsondotnet (8122) on Saturday August 31 2019, @09:14AM (#888163) Journal

    Thanks for saying this.

    I use it as a form of protest and to call attention to how often we say them, that this is marketing, brainwashing in a way.

    What FB, R, T, I, are, are essentially like phone service now. Do you have ATT or Verizon, are you on FB or It used to be about who owned the train tracks. This argument is absolutely critical to the understanding of american history, maybe to understanding government itself, it is not trivial or just about the company FB.

    These basic functionalities are undeniably core to the wants, needs and desires of humans on computer networks. The internet started out respecting this, the backbones are basically operated like common carrier and level 3 or sprint lines, who cares, it's all getting copied to the same underground bases for later analysis by our overlords.

    But we now live in several layers of abstraction on top of that, and in this very in your face user layer, some companies are running the same monopolization tricks but on digital steroids. FB is paradigmatic, it's like the standard oil or drew, fisk and gould of our time, except this new thing now has the ability to mass manipulate the population on a second to second basis, and this is all exercised covertly through algorithms and intentional backdoors in convoluted javascript.

    I think we should protest this, if it were 1890 I might be holding a sign blocking the railroad tracks. I think it is a crisis for humanity, and so I am pushing the envelope a little to be loud and clear about where I stand.

    Check out my response to the guy who *just can't stand* to consider my ideas because I don't want to see the word FB 8 times in my comment, I go into it some there too.

    You may notice a pattern in the responses to my comments, I frequently get early completely dismissive comments and incorrect troll moddings...

    Starting Score:    1  point
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31 2019, @06:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 31 2019, @06:58PM (#888287)

    You may notice a pattern in the responses to my comments, I frequently get early completely dismissive comments and incorrect troll moddings...

    If you keep getting the same response to your comments, maybe, just maybe, part of the problem is how you write the comments, not their content.

    This response seems somewhat disingenuous as well. You say you do it purposefully as protest of the names. Yet, your own comment lets many of them sail by unadulterated. The reason why, I suspect, is because at that point of your writing, you were more concerned about making your overarching point. However, protest is the point, so why not fix them or double check? The natural explanation seems to be that you don't actually care about the "name protest" or to draw attention to how they are used, but to take cheap and immature shots at the name. Otherwise, you would have done so in the first place.