Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web

The World Wide Web started with so much promise: to connect people across any distance, to allow anyone to become a publisher, and to democratize access to knowledge. However, today the Web seems to be failing us. It’s not private, secure, or unifying. The internet has, in large part, ended up centralizing access and power in the hands of a few dominant platforms.

What if we could build something better—what some are calling the decentralized web?

In this series of six workshops, “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web,” we’ll explore the ways in which moving to decentralized technologies may enhance your privacy, empower you to control your own data, and resist censorship. Join us to hear from experts in the leading peer-to-peer technologies, from identity to data storage. We’ll see demonstrations of how decentralized tech is being used in publishing, data management and preserving cultural assets. Learn how the decentralized web might yet create systems that empower individuals by eliminating central points of control.

This series is a partnership between Internet Archive, DWeb, Library Futures, and presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

Sessions Include:

Colorful dashes dance across a black bacground. The Title "Decentralized Web: an Introduction" sits atop the image, in white text.

The Decentralized Web: An Introduction
What is the decentralized web, why is it important, and where is it along the path of development? What are the problems the decentralized web seeks to solve? Who are the players working to realize this vision? Why is the Internet Archive, a library, a leader in the decentralized web movement?
Thursday, January 27th, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register

In an Ever-Expanding Library, Using Decentralized Storage to Keep Your Materials Safe
Libraries understand the headache of storing materials. How do you create room for an ever-expanding collection? What if you don’t want to weed materials to make room? Enter decentralized storage—a network of P-2-P servers that store materials across a global network of storage nodes. What problems does this solve? What problems does this create? Where is the state of decentralized storage today? We ‘ll see media collections and how they are preserved in Storj, Filecoin, and beyond.
Thursday, February 24th, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register

Keeping Your Personal Data Personal: How Decentralized Identity Drives Data Privacy
Want your FedEx package? Now you must allow the company to scan your ID. Check into a hotel? Hand over your passport. Rent an e-bike? Key in your driver’s license, which includes your address, birthdate, and weight. What if you could maintain control over your personal identity and share only what is needed? Enter decentralized or self-sovereign identity (SSI). In the future, we believe each person will hold an e-wallet and control his/her/their own personal information.
Thursday, March 31, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register

Goodbye Facebook, Hello Decentralized Social Media? Can Peer-to-Peer Lead to Less Toxic Online Platforms?
Facebook, Twitter… we’ve seen them go awry when faced with the scourges of misinformation and trolling. In authoritarian regimes, entire platforms are easily blocked. Would decentralized social media, where there is no central controlling entity, be better? How do you take down damaging posts when there is no central command center? We walk you through some of the top decentralized social media platforms, from Matrix to Twitter’s Blue Sky initiative. Demonstrations of how to get on some of these systems.
Thursday, April 28, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register

Decentralized Apps, the Metaverse and the “Next Big Thing”
Why did Facebook rename itself for the Metaverse? What is the metaverse & how are people experiencing it? How are artists, nonprofits, even the NBA are racking up seven-figure payouts for otherwise mundane pieces of media called NFTs (non-fungible tokens)? Why are they so despised? In this session, we look at the crazy breakthrough apps and items populating decentralized web. Plus demonstrations of how people are working, trading & creating in the metaverse.
Thursday, May 26, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register

Ethics of the Decentralized Web & Uses for the Law, Journalism and Humanitarian Work
Web 1.0 and 2.0 started out full of idealism, too. What is to prevent the decentralized web from being corrupted by profit, market domination, and bad actors? What is the normative or social layer we need to build alongside the tech?
Thursday, June 30, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST
Register