Tim Berners-Lee recently gathered in San Francisco with other top computer scientists — including Brewster Kahle, head of the nonprofit Internet Archive and an internet activist — to discuss a new phase for the web at the Decentralized Web Summit event.
The founders and builders of IPFS, the Dat Project, WebTorrent, Tahoe-LAFS, zcash, Zeronet.io, BitTorrent, Ethereum, BigChainDB, Blockstack, Interledger, Mediachain, MaidSafe, Storj and others presented their technologies and answer questions.
Hosted by the Internet Archive, the first Decentralized Web Summit was a call for dreamers and builders to spark collaboration and take concrete steps to create a better Web. The event includes tech legends such as Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, and renowned author Cory Doctorow.
At the session on Tuesday, computer scientists talked about how new payment technologies could increase individual control over money. For example, if people adapted the so-called ledger system by which digital currencies are used, a musician might potentially be able to sell records without intermediaries like Apple’s iTunes. News sites might be able to have a system of micropayments for reading a single article, instead of counting on web ads for money.
“The web is already decentralized,” said Berners-Lee. “The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don’t have a technology problem; we have a social problem.”
Doctorow gave the opening talk, “How Stupid Laws and Benevolent Dictators can Ruin the Decentralized Web, too,” which was about the “Ulysses pacts“: bargains you make with yourself when your willpower is strong to prevent giving into temptation later when you are tired or demoralized, and how these have benefited the web to date, and how new, better ones can protect the decentralized web of the future.
Doctorow wrote at Boing Boing that EFF’s Jeremy Gillula and Noah Swartz — who were there to present Certbot, a tool that produces free cryptographic certificates — wrote up the afternoon, including my talk, and did a good job summarizing it:
He called on the audience to act now to make a Ulysses pact for the decentralized web, because everything eventually fails or falls on hard times. If we want to make sure that the principles and values we hold dear survive, we need to design the systems that embody those principles so that they can’t be compromised of weakened. In other words, we need to build things now so that five or ten or twenty years from now, when what we’ve built is successful and someone asks us to add a backdoor or insert malware or track our users, it simply won’t be possible (for either technological or legal or monetary reasons)—no matter how much outside pressure we’re under.
After all, “The reason the web is closed today is because…people just like you made compromises that seemed like the right compromise to make at the time. And then they made another compromise, a little one. And another one.” He continued, pointing out that “We are, all of us, a mix of short-sighted and long-term…We must give each other moral support. Literal support to uphold the morals of the decentralized web, by agreeing now on what an open decentralized web is.” Only by doing this will we be able to resist the siren song of re-centralization.
And what sort of principles should we agree to? Cory suggests two. First, when a computer receives conflicting instructions from its owner and from a remote party, the owner’s wishes should always take precedence. In other words, no DRM (that means you, W3C). Second, disclosing true facts about the security of systems that we rely upon should never ever be illegal. In other words, we need to work to abolish things like the DMCA, which create legal uncertainty for security researchers disclosing vulnerabilities in systems locked behind DRM.
The crowd’s response to this passionate call to action? A standing ovation.
an information page with current projects, reading material and links to the Decentralized Web discussion groups and that all summit talks, panels and Q&A sessions have been video streamed in real time, and the recorded stream is online at the Internet Archive YouTube channel: Day 1, Day 2.The Summit’s website has
- Voatz and Clear Ballot to Explore Blockchain Technology for Remote Voting - February 20, 2017
- New Blockchain Smart Contract Token Developed By GameCredits - February 20, 2017
- Blockchain Could Be a New Operating System for the Planet Says Jeremy Wilson, Vice Chairman of Barclays Corporate Banking - February 20, 2017
- JAAK and the Guardian Initiative Announce MΞTA: A Blockchain Pilot for The Media & Entertainment Industry - February 18, 2017
- The StabL Project – Hadrien Charlanes Plans Stable Tokens and Derivative Products For Ethereum Blockchain - February 17, 2017
- Blockchain Energy Trading Trials Kickoff with Canada’s BTL Group and Austria’s Wien Energie - February 16, 2017
- Smart Dubai Office (SDO) and 1776 Launch Blockchain Challenge - February 16, 2017
- BOScoin, a New Cryptocurrency, Introduces “Trust Contracts” to Overcome the Shortcomings of Ethereum Smart Contracts - February 16, 2017
- European Commission Working on Blockchain – Plans Actively Seeking Pilot Partners - February 16, 2017
- Canadian Blockchain Company SecureKey Awarded U.S. Department of Homeland Security Grant - February 16, 2017
- Microsoft and KPMG Cut Deal and Kickoff Blockchain Nodes in Frankfurt and Singapore - February 16, 2017
- Global Blockchain Project FERMAT Announces Significant Alpha Release for the “Internet of People” - February 16, 2017
- Russian Blockchain Startup Exscudo Aims to Bridge Traditional Finances And The Cryptocurrency Market - February 15, 2017
- Active Year Ahead for Blockchain Solutions in Financial Services, says Corporate Insight - February 14, 2017
- BlockApps and Red Hat Cut Deal to Deliver Hybrid Cloud Solution for Blockchain Applications in the Enterprise - February 14, 2017
- Hyperledger Blockchain Turns One – Director Brian Behlendorf Updates - February 14, 2017
- The State Bank of India Initiates National Blockchain Bank Consortium - February 14, 2017
- The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) Introduces Real-Time Cross-Border Blockchain Payments - February 14, 2017
- China Turning Hard to Blockchain – Focus on Fraud Reduction - February 13, 2017
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Kick Off Blockchain in Heathcare Code-A-Thon - February 13, 2017
- Hexayurt Capital presents the Internet of Agreements at the World Government Summit - February 13, 2017
- EquiChain – Blockchain for Emerging Markets Post-Trade - February 13, 2017
- UK Government Approves Tramonex Labs to Issue Currency on Blockchain - February 12, 2017
- US Congress Buckles Down With Blockchain – Launch Congressional Blockchain Caucus - February 11, 2017
- Nick Szabo: Some Private Blockchains Qualify as Bona Fide Blockchains - February 10, 2017
- Bitfury Group and Government of Georgia Expand Blockchain Land Titling Project - February 10, 2017
- Expanse Project Announces Launch of the Expanse Bond System (EBS) - February 10, 2017
- WISeKey to Establish IoT Blockchain Center of Excellence in New York - February 10, 2017
- Blockchain Startup Coinfirm Gets $700k Growth Equity Via VC Funding - February 10, 2017
- Blockchain Health Startup Hashed Health Raises Nearly $2 Million in Initial Funding Round - February 10, 2017
- IBM Kicks Off Blockchain Initiative with Dubai Government - February 10, 2017
- Blockchain Pioneer Medici Ventures Invests in Factom, Inc. - February 7, 2017
- Canadian Blockchain Startup Equibit Raises Quarter Million Dollars in Day One of Initial Coin Offering (ICO) - February 5, 2017
- Blockchain-Fuelled Grantcoin Foundation Distributes Universal Basic Income (UBI) Grants To 1,132 People In 79 Countries - February 5, 2017
- Blockchain Startup Chronobank partners with NEM to create ChronoNEM wallet - February 3, 2017
- dotBlockchain Music Project Announces Partners - February 2, 2017
- Switzerland Promises to Ease Rules for Fintech and Blockchain Startups - February 2, 2017
- Netherlands’ ING Bank Completes 27 Blockchain POCs - February 2, 2017
- South African Blockchain-Based AR Game nears $1 Million in ICO Funding Goal - February 2, 2017
- The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance Announces New Blockchain Assets Working Group - February 2, 2017
- Tel Aviv’s Colu Launches Local Digital Currency for Liverpool – East London Next - February 2, 2017
- South Africa Mulling Over Blockchain Digital Currency - February 2, 2017
- Nine in Ten Governments Investing in Blockchain by 2018 Says IBM Study - February 2, 2017
- NATO Awards Estonian Blockchain Company Guardtime Contract for Next-Generation Cyber Range - February 2, 2017
- Microsoft and Tierion Collaborate on Attestations and Blockchain Proofs - February 2, 2017
- Irish Funds and Deloitte Trial Blockchain Proof-of-Concept - February 2, 2017
- Cambridge Blockchain Raise $2 Million for Digital Identity Enterprise Software - February 2, 2017
- National Altcoins – a Toy for Market Sharks or Godsend for Local Communities? - February 1, 2017
- TaaS, the First Fully Transparent Closed End Fund dedicated to Blockchain Assets, Announces ICO - February 1, 2017
- SibCoin – the Cryptocurrency Conquered Siberia and Outsailed Dash - February 1, 2017