Redecentralize Digest — February 2020
We have finally updated our website! An early spring cleaning of the cobwebs and archiving old material, and new content on the home and ‘about’ page. We are feeling proud :D
Have a look, tell a friend, and better still, if there’s something you’d like to do within the Redecentralize umbrella that supports autonomy, privacy and choice then let us know. We’re especially interested in partner projects and people wanting to run meetups/events.
In the meantime, happy March and enjoy our Febuary re-digest.
Ira & Gerben
Thousands of free software developers spent a weekend in Brussels. So many interesting talks, often technically in-depth, most (all?) of them recorded. Especially relevant was the Decentralized Internet and Privacy devroom.
A few picks:
- Scion was presented both in a short and a long talk; it is a more secure internet architecture that replaces BGP and lets clients choose their packet routes.
- Matrix drew crowds, once talking about making it end-to-end encrypted (almost ready), once about making it peer-to-peer instead of federated (work in progress).
- A talk about fediverse concentration, moderation and privacy issues. Its concluding appeal: “If you make a fediverse tool, please make content not indexable by default”
- “State of the Onion”, Tor Project’s review of the year.
- HTTP/3 QUIC overview; Initially an upgrade for HTTP, QUIC is likely to more widely replace TLS+TCP, merging their features into one while reducing the number of round trips required for a connection. Its finalisation is still ‘a couple months away’, just like last year.
Our Networks 2019 talks online
Recorded talks from the Our Networks conference (last September in Toronto) are now online. Many talks look worth watching (but I did not yet get around to that so I will not highlight any).
It has just been announced that Our Networks 2020 will be on 7–9 August.
New publications about big tech
Two English-language publications launched this month, both US-b(i)ased:
- The Markup: A not-for-profit newsroom with a scientific approach (e.g. sharing their methods and data sets), and decent enough to not try track its readers. Tagline: “Big Tech Is Watching You. We’re Watching Big Tech.”
- Protocol: a sibling of Politico that focusses on the tech industry.
Ted Nelson’s 2020 vision
Spotted in his book Literary Machines (~1980):
THE 2020 VISION
Forty years from now (if the human species survives), there will be hundreds of thousands of file servers–machines storing and dishing out materials. And there will be hundreds of millions of simultaneous users, able to read from billions of stored documents, with trillions of links among them.
All of this is manifest destiny. There is no point in arguing it; either you see it or you don’t. Many readers will choke and fling down the book, only to have the thought gnaw gradually until they see its inevitability.
The system proposed in this book may or may not work technically on such a scale. But some system of this type will, and can bring a Golden Age to the human mind.
I am not sure about the “trillions of links”, but the other numbers seem easily met. The public World Wide Web (not Xanadu, sorry Ted) is estimated to contain at least 60 billion pages — even if most are unlikely to help “bring a Golden Age to the human mind”. To appreciate this foresight, perhaps try to estimate the use and scale of, say, brain-computer interaction in 2060?
Interopérabilitay, an essay by Laurent Chemla about demanding interoperability from giant platforms; in French.
IPFS Project Focus for 2020; firstly, “improving the performance and reliability of content routing in the IPFS network”.
Bruce Schneier joined Tim Berners-Lee at Inrupt to work on Solid.
A story about an IndieWeb developer’s motivation at the University of Toronto.
Librelounge episode #32 with Frank Karlitschek of NextCloud; talks about the fork of OwnCloud into NextCloud, fully open source business models and their incentives, and how the pay-for-support model gets undermined as enterprises stop hosting on-premise.
European right to private life does not block obligations to identify phone users; only one of seven ECtHR judges defended the right to buy anonymous SIM cards. Though in Romania, such an obligation was found unconstitutional, again.
“Instead of breaking up big tech, let’s break them open”: Ira’s latest post, in case you missed it. It is a revision of her earlier version (covered in October’s digest) and OKFN now also published it.
- Mar 14–15: IndieWebCamp London
- April 20–24: Internet Freedom Festival
- June 8–12: ScuttleCamp, Moinho, Brazil
- June 10–12: EuroDIG, Trieste, Italy
- June 11–12: Open 2020, London (where Redecentralize will also run sessions!)
- June 27–28: IndieWeb Summit Portland
- August 7–9: Our Networks, Toronto
- September 25–27: FediConf, Barcelona
About this digest
The Redecentralize Digest is a monthly publication about internet (re)decentralisation. It covers progress and thoughts relating technology and politics, without ties to a particular project nor to one definition of decentralisation — figuring out its meanings and relations is part of the mission.
This edition was written by Gerben & Ira.
The digest’s format and content are not set in stone. Feedback and suggestions for next editions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. We don’t spy on our readers, so please do tell us what you think!