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Redecentralize Digest — kthxbye

For exactly 3 years, once each month, the Redecentralize Digest has delivered summaries of publications, updates and upcoming events. All things come to an end, including this digest. It’s been a pleasure.

The Redecentralize blog and newsletter stay alive, but won’t have content as regularly for the time being. And we’d still love to organise other projects, publications, and/or a conference again; when we find the time, collaborators, and inspiration.

Personally, I will not be leaving the scene either. On the contrary, supporting the internet has become my job now, at NLnet. (will you join too? Or apply for support for your project!)

Thanks again to all who sent their suggestions, feedback and the occasional “thanks for writing this” — those really help motivate!

To not leave you empty-handed, a few items in this issue:


— Gerben

DWeb Camp happened

Our very first digest was right after the very first DWeb Camp, and we finish right after the second camp. Again, it was too far away to attend it myself, but reportedly people had a fun and inspiring time.

Lightning talks were recorded and will hopefully be online soon.

ERIS 1.0

The ERIS (Encoding for Robust Immutable Storage) project published its 1.0 specification.

“ERIS is an encoding of arbitrary content into a set of uniformly sized, encrypted and content-addressed blocks as well as a short identifier that can be encoded as an URN. The content can be reassembled from the blocks only with this identifier. The encoding is defined independent of any storage and transport layer or any specific application.”

The consumer computer

David Schmudde argues that “The personal computer was replaced by the consumer computer just as soon as it arrived”; illustrated with a short history of the marketers that popularised the invention of more idealistic hackers:

“Tramiel and Kornfeld both had the exact consumer products experience that the mythologized California pioneers lacked. Consumer products don’t need to be a bicycle for the mind. They don’t even need to be useful. This is the power of marketing.”

The old ideal of the computer as a “bicycle for the mind” seems even less applicable today:

“But our everyday reality using the computer does not feel empowering. You want to use the internet without being tracked? Almost impossible. Want to message a friend? I hope you have read and agree to the WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Want to install some software on your Apple device? It better be in the App Store. Perhaps you want to lend an Amazon eBook to your sister? Well you don’t actually own it, so you’ll have to ask Amazon.”

Not explicitly mentioned is the doubling down on disempowerment during the shift from desktop to mobile devices — now people don’t even have root access to their ‘own’ device. But this article suggests that the trend is much older than that.

Re(de)centralising, one layer up

Gordon Brander connects some thoughts pointing out a source of centralisation on a decentralised infrastructure: the same-origin security policy of the web.

“If you ask me, the domain name system is already pretty great. … However, the web binds trust, data and infrastructure to domains through the same-origin security policy.

As a result, attention gets driven toward domains, which control trust, data, and infrastructure. The end result is aggregators, lock-in, and a landscape that is fundamentally feudal.”

In the author’s view, using a combination of content-addressing, signed content, and petnames would help decentralise that layer. It keeps centralisation around aggregators (because of the scarcity of attention), but mitigates their harmful lock-in.

“Perhaps there is a rule of thumb here? If you decentralize, the system will recentralize, but one layer up. Something new will be enabled by decentralization. That sounds like evolution through layering, like upward-spiraling complexity. That sounds like progress to me.”

Further reading

Besides some links received from readers or friends, or discovered in chatrooms and the occasional toot, many of the topics covered in the digest came to my attention via RSS feeds of various people and projects. Here a few recommendations for sites to frequent and feeds to follow:

You can even import this whole list at once into your feed reader.

While at it: a big thanks to all who convey constructive thoughts in that cacophony of click-bait and cat pictures we call the web. I hope to have contributed, even if just a little, to this culture of decentralised education, to which I’d like to invite everyone to participate, in one way or another.

Let’s do our fellow netizens a favour, help each other find relevant facts or grasp what goes on. Share discoveries, edit wikipedia, collect, curate, annotate, document, explain. Write what we would want to read.


For more events like these, check out and subscribe to the dweb.events calendar. (by the way, that calendar needs more contributors; any volunteers?)

About this digest

The Redecentralize Digest is (or used to be!) 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 digest was written by Gerben.