Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization: Back to the Future? | Barabas, Narula, Zuckerman

Chelsea Barabas, Neha Narula, Ethan Zuckerman; Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization: Back to the Future?;a book?; The Center for Civic Media & The Digital Currency Initiative; MIT Media Lab; 2017; 113 pages.

tl;dr → theoretical; witnessing.  You tell it, you tell the story!  Mentions Bitcoin on page 2; uses the word “hegemon” on page 14.  Offers a cook’s tour of the boosterist community and their projects: Freedom Box, Diaspora, Mastodon, Blockstack, Interplanetary File System (IPFS), Solid, Appcoins, Steemit.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
    • The Rise of the Centralized Web
    • Risks Posed by the Centralized Web
    • Structural Interventions as a Possible Solution
  • Section II: Federation
    • Freedom Box
    • Diaspora
    • Mastodon
  • Section III: Open Protocols
    • Authentication
    • Blockstack
    • Interoperability
    • IPFS
    • Solid
  • Section IV: Appcoins
    • Steemit
  • Conclusion

Recommendations

  • Wait and see, only time will tell.
    <quote>A precondition for the success of these distributed
    platforms is a shift towards user-controlled data,</quote>
  • Fund the projects (the best-of-breed exemplars, below, and more)
    e.g. Let’s Encrypt.
  • The fascination, gee whiz!; it’s simply phenomenal!
    Use Appcoins

    • circumvent Venture Capital funding.
    • business model: unspecified, but definitely “not advertising”
  • A fool and his money are soon parted:
    • <quote>However, this space also has a lot of potential for scams, and it might be unreasonable to expect users to manage a financial stake in many different networks.</quote>

Mentions

  • Bitcoin
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Let’s Encrypt
  • Appcoins
  • Digitial Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Gopher
  • Archie
  • Wide Area Information Server (WAIS)
  • John Perry Barlow
    A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
  • Fred Turner
    ambiguous reference

  • World Wide Web (WWW)
  • Domain Name System (DNS)
  • “lock the web open”, attributed to Brewster Kayle.
  • Peer-to-Peer
  • cypherpunk worldview
  • Diffie-Hellman key exchange
  • Bitcoin
  • ledger
  • accounts
  • Hyper-Text Transport Protocol (HTTP)
  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  • <quote>Distributed, peer-to-peer protocols like HTTP and SMTP</quote>
    um, what?
  • Millennials
  • Baby Boomers
  • Google competitors
    • Baidu,
    • Yahoo,
    • Microsoft,
    • Yandex.
    • hey … what about DuckDuckGo?
  • Twitter
  • Arab Spring
  • Tunisia
  • Baltimore
  • BitTorrent
  • YouTube
  • WhatsApp
  • software stack
  • surveillance
  • decryption keys
  • Thailand
  • Thai Royal Family
  • “lock

Exemplars

Good

  • Freedom Box
  • Diaspora
  • Mastodon
  • Blockstack
  • Interplanetary File System (IPFS)
  • Solid
  • Appcoins
  • Steemit

Bad

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • YouTube

Concerns

  • User and developer adoption
  • Security
  • Monetization and incentives

Risks

Elaborated in the Introduction

  1. Top-down, Direct Censorship
  2. Something. Couldn’t identify what it was. His second point, and surely they had one…

Characterizations

Honorifics

  • decentralized
  • good old days of unmediated publishing
  • critical safeguard for user privacy
  • mainstream
  • “disrupt” this new class of power elites

Epithets

  • mega-platform
  • centralized
  • third-party intermediaries
  • marginalized voices
  • for-profit
  • today’s online hegemons.

Who

  • John Perry Barlow, theorist.
  • Philando Castile, executed by police, on live TV.
  • David Chaum, polymath.
  • Fred Turner, Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication
    Department Chair, Stanford University.
  • Frederick Jackson Turner, Wisconsin, Harvard, 1861→1932.
  • Mark Zuckerbirg, CEO, Facebook

References

There are 201 references, presented inline, as footnotes, in the style of a legal tract.

They are <omitted/> herein.

Previously filled.