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
- Editorial: The Rumours of ICOs’ Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated - March 18, 2019
- French NCC Deploy IBM Blockchain For Commercial and Corporate Registries - March 15, 2019
- Bcause, To Launch Full-stack Cryptocurrency Ecosystem On Nasdaq - March 13, 2019
- SEC – Ethereum is Not a Security - March 13, 2019
- US Treasury Sanctions One of Russia’s Biggest Commercial Banks Over Backing of Venezuela’s Cryptocurrency, Petro - March 13, 2019
- Fetch.AI Solves ‘Blockchain Trilemma’ with Novel Approach to Reaching Consensus - March 13, 2019
- Boerse Stuttgart Group Cut Deal with solarisBank to Develop Crypto Trading Platform - March 12, 2019
- ECCU Plans to Issue World’s First Blockchain-Based Central Bank Digital Currency in the Caribbean - March 12, 2019
- Blockchain Video Company Linius Connects Prototype to Blockchain-Centric Video Player - March 12, 2019
- Emaar, One of the World’s Largest Property Companies, Plans Loyalty and Referral Token - March 11, 2019
- European Commission Offering 32 Blockchain Startups €200.000 Equity-Free Cash for Citizen Data Control Decentralised Solutions - March 11, 2019
- One of World’s Largest Asset Managers ($2.46 trillion) Fidelity, Launches Bitcoin Service - March 11, 2019
- eToro Officially Launches Crypto Trading Platform & Wallet in the U.S. - March 7, 2019
- Smilo Platform Launches Mainnet – Decentralized, GDPR compliant, Hybrid, Multipurpose - March 7, 2019
- New Research Released on Blockchain and EU Privacy Law Compliance - March 5, 2019
- Token.Agency Kicks Off Blockchain, STO and Tokenomics Service in Europe and North America - February 27, 2019
- Mercedes-Benz Cars Develops Blockchain-Prototype for Sustainable Supply Chains - February 26, 2019
- Open Source, Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Platform Insolar Launches Testnet - February 26, 2019
- IPC to Provide ICE Crypto Feeds to over 6000 Capital Market Participants - February 26, 2019
- Fetch.AI raises $6m in Successful 22 Second Token Sale On Binance Launchpad - February 25, 2019