Tag Archives: DWeb

GITCOIN Grants: Donate a Few Tokens, Defend a Public Treasure

CALLING ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS:

In just a few months, the lawsuit Hachette v. Internet Archive will be heard in court. In 2020, four of the world’s largest publishers sued our non-profit library to stop us from digitizing books and lending them for free to the public. The publishers and the corporations who own them, including News Corp and Bertelsmann, are demanding $20 million in damages and that we destroy 1.4 million digitized books. What’s really at stake? The right of all libraries to own, digitize and lend books of any kind. (Here’s what Harvard’s copyright advisor has to say about the consequences of our case.) Starting today, make a small donation through Gitcoin and have an enormous impact for the defense of Internet Archive, through Gitcoin’s quadratic funding.

Today, Gitcoin Grant Round 14 opens, supporting advocacy groups around the world. When you donate even $1 worth of crypto to the Internet Archive, it can result in $3-400+ from the matching pool. Quadratic funding rewards the number of community members who give, along with the amount. So many small donations can really have an enormous impact.

This is an example of the matching funds allotted in a previous Gitcoin Grant round.

HOW TO DONATE:

  1. First you’ll need to create or log in your Github account. 
  2. Use that account to authorize in to Gitcoin.  
  3. Choose one or both of our gitcoin grants here:
  1. You’ll need a crypto wallet like Metamask or Rainbow Wallet with some Ethereum or other tokens.
  2. Select how much you want to donate. (For example: .003 ETH = about $5.00 US)
  3. Do you want to also add some money to the matching pool? Be sure to set an amount in that field as well.
  4. Hit the “I’m Ready to Checkout” button.
  5. In the drop down menu, pick Standard Checkout, Polygon, or zkSync.
  6. Connect and log in to your crypto wallet to pay.
  7. BONUS: You can verify your identity by creating a Gitcoin Passport via Ceramic to maximize the matching funds (up to 150%).
  8. The more people who give, the greater the percentage of the matching pool we receive.
Checkout module for the Gitcoin Grant 14 Advocacy Round.

Thank you for taking these steps to unleash huge support for the Internet Archive, helping us pay the millions of dollars in legal fees we have already incurred. Your support helps ensure the Wayback Machine, Open Library, and all our games, concerts, books and films will be available to you for free for a very long time.

Goodbye Facebook. Hello Decentralized Social Media?

The pending sale of Twitter to Elon Musk has generated a buzz about the future of social media and just who should control our data.

Wendy Hanamura, director of partnerships at the Internet Archive, moderated an online discussion April 28 “Goodbye Facebook, Hello Decentralized Social Media?” about the opportunities and dangers ahead. The webinar is part of a series of six workshops, “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web.” 

Watch the session recording:

The session featured founders of some of the top decentralized social media networks including Jay Graber, chief executive officer of R&D project Bluesky, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of Matrix, and Andre Staltz, creator of Manyverse. Unlike Twitter, Facebook or Slack, Matrix and Manyverse have no central controlling entity. Instead the peer-to-peer networks shift power to the users and protect privacy. 

If Twitter is indeed bought and people are disappointed with the changes, the speakers expressed hope that the public will consider other social networks. “A crisis of this type means that people start installing Manyverse and other alternatives,” Staltz said. “The opportunity side is clear.” Still in the transition period if other platforms are not ready, there is some risk that users will feel stuck and not switch, he added.

Hodgson said there are reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic about Musk purchasing Twitter. The hope is that he will use his powers for good, making it available to everybody and empowering people to block the content they don’t want to see. The risk is with no moderation, Hodgson said, people will be obnoxious to one another without sufficient controls to filter, and the system will melt down. “It’s certainly got potential to be an experiment. I’m cautiously optimistic on it,” he said.

People who work in decentralized tech recognize the risk that comes when one person can control a network and act for good or bad, Graber said. “This turn of events demonstrates that social networks that are centralized can change very quickly,” she said. “Those changes can potentially disrupt or drastically alter people’s identity, relationships, and the content that they put on there over the years. This highlights the necessity for transition to a protocol-based ecosystem.” 

When a platform is user-controlled, it is resilient to disruptive change, Graber said. Decentralization enables immutability so change is hard and is a slow process that requires a lot of people to agree, added Staltz.

The three leaders spoke about how decentralized networks provide a sustainable alternative and are gaining traction. Unlike major players that own user data and monetize personal information, decentralized networks are controlled by users and information lives in many different places.

“Society as a whole is facing a lot of crises,” Graber said. “We have the ability to, as a collective intelligence, to investigate a lot of directions at once. But we don’t actually have the free ability to fully do this in our current social architecture…if you decentralize, you get the ability to innovate and explore many more directions at once. And all the parts get more freedom and autonomy.”

Decentralized social media is structured to change the balance of power, added Hanamura: “In this moment, we want you to know that you have the power. You can take back the power, but you have to understand it and understand your responsibility.”

The webinar was co-sponsored by DWeb and Library Futures, and presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

The next event in the series, Decentralized Apps, the Metaverse and the “Next Big Thing,” will be held Thursday, May 26 at 4-5 p.m.EST, Register here

What’s in Your Smart Wallet? Keeping your Personal Data Personal

How Decentralized Identity Drives Privacy” with Internet Archive, Metro Library Council, and Library Futures

How many passwords do you have saved, and how many of them are controlled by a large, corporate platform instead of by you? Last month’s “Keeping your Personal Data Personal: How Decentralized Identity Drives Privacy” session started with that provocative question in order to illustrate the potential of this emerging technology.

Self-sovereign identity (SSI), defined as “an idea, a movement, and a decentralized approach for establishing trust online,” sits in the middle of the stack of technologies that makes up the decentralized internet. In the words of the Decentralized Identity Resource Guide written specifically for this session, “self-sovereign identity is a system where users themselves–and not centralized platforms or services like Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn–are in control and maintain ownership of their personal information.”

  Research shows that the average American has more than 150 different accounts and passwords – a number that has likely skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. In her presentation, Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, discussed the implications of “trading privacy and security for convenience.” Hanamura drew on her recent experience at SXSW, which bundled her personal data, including medical and vaccine data, into an insecure QR code used by a corporate sponsor to verify her as a participant. In contrast, Hanamura says that the twenty-year old concept of self-sovereign identity can disaggregate these services from corporations, empowering people to be in better control of their own data and identity through principles like control, access, transparency, and consent. While self-sovereign identity presents incredible promise as a concept, it also raises fascinating technical questions around verification and management.

For Kaliya “Identity Woman” Young, her interest in identity comes from networks of global ecology and information technology, which she has been part of for more than twenty years. In 2000, when the Internet was still nascent, she joined with a community to ask: “How can this technology best serve people, organizations, and the planet?” Underlying her work is the strong belief that people should have the right to control their own online identity with the maximum amount of flexibility and access. Using a real life example, Young compared self-sovereign identity to a physical wallet. Like a wallet, self-sovereign identity puts users in control of what they share, and when, with no centralized ability for an issuer to tell when the pieces of information within the wallet is presented.

In contrast, the modern internet operates with a series of centralized identifiers like ICANN or IANA for domain names and IP addresses and corporate private namespaces like Google and Facebook. Young’s research and work decentralizes this way of transmitting information through “signed portable proofs,” which come from a variety of sources rather than one centralized source. These proofs are also called verifiable credentials and have metadata, the claim itself, and a digital signature embedded for validation. All of these pieces come together in a digital wallet, verified by a digital identifier that is unique to a person. Utilizing cryptography, these identifiers would be validated by digital identity documents and registries. In this scenario, organizations like InCommon, an access management service, or even a professional licensing organization like the American Library Association can maintain lists of institutions that would be able to verify the identity or organizational affiliation of an identifier. In the end, Young emphasized a message of empowerment – in her work, self-sovereign identity is about “innovating protocols to represent people in the digital realm in ways that empower them and that they control.”

Next, librarian Lambert Heller of Technische Bibliothek and Irene Adamski of the Berlin-based SSI firm Jolocom discussed and demonstrated their work in creating self-sovereign identity for academic conferences on a new platform called Condidi. This tool allows people running academic events to have a platform that issues digital credentials of attendance in a decentralized system. Utilizing open source and decentralized software, this system minimizes the amount of personal information that attendees need to give over to organizers while still allowing participants to track and log records of their attendance. For libraries, this kind of system is crucial – new systems like Condidi help libraries protect user privacy and open up platform innovation.

Self-sovereign identity also utilizes a new tool called  a “smart wallet,” which holds one’s credentials and is controlled by the user. For example, at a conference, a user might want to tell the organizer that she is of age, but not share any other information about herself. A demo of Jolocom’s system demonstrated how this system could work. In the demo, Irene showed how a wallet could allow a person to share just the information she wants through encrypted keys in a conference situation. Jolocom also allows people to verify credentials using an encrypted wallet. According to Adamski, the best part of self sovereign identity is that “you don’t have to share if you don’t want to.” This way, “I am in control of my data.”

To conclude, Heller discussed a recent movement in Europe called “Stop Tracking Science.” To combat publishing oligopolies and data analytics companies, a group of academics have come together to create scholar-led infrastructure. As Heller says, in the current environment, “Your journal is reading you,” which is a terrifying thought about scholarly communications.

These academics are hoping to move toward shared responsibility and open, decentralized infrastructure using the major building blocks that already exist. One example of how academia is already decentralized is through PIDs, or persistent identifiers, which are already widely used through systems like ORCID. According to Heller, these PIDs are “part of the commons” and can be shared in a consistent, open manner across systems, which could be used in a decentralized manner for personal identity rather than a centralized one. To conclude, Heller said, “There is no technical fix for social issues. We need to come up with a model for how trust works in research infrastructure.”

It is clear that self-sovereign identity holds great promise as part of a movement for technology that is privacy-respecting, open, transparent, and empowering. In this future, it will be possible to have a verified identity that is held by you, not by a big corporation – the vision that we are setting out to achieve. Want to help us get there? 

Join us at the next events hosted by METRO Library Council, Internet Archive, and Library Futures. https://metro.org/decentralizedweb

Links Shared

Links shared:
Resource guide for this session: https://archive.org/details/resource-guide-session-03-decentralized-identity
All resource guides: https://metro.org/DWebResourceGuides
Decentralized ORCID: https://whoisthis.wtf
Internet Identity Workshop: https://internetidentityworkshop.com/
Jolocom: https://jolocom.io/
Condidi: https://labs.tib.eu/info/en/project/condidi/
TruAge: https://www.convenience.org/TruAge/Home
DIACC Trust Framework: https://diacc.ca/trust-framework/
PCTF-CCP https://canada-ca.github.io/PCTF-CCP
TruAge Digital ID Verification Solution: https://www.convenience.org/Media/Daily/2021/May/11/2-TruAgeTM-Digital-ID-Verification-Solution_NACS
NuData Security: https://nudatasecurity.com/passive-biometrics/
Kaliya Young’s Book, Domains of Identity: https://identitywoman.net/wp-content/uploads/Domains-of-Identity-Highlights.pdf

In an Ever-Expanding Library, Using Decentralized Storage to Keep Your Materials Safe

Memory institutions know the headaches of storing their ever-expanding physical collections: fire, flood, access & space over the long-term. But storing digital assets presents even more diverse challenges: attacks by hackers, deep fakes, censorship, and the unforeseeable cost of storing bits for centuries. Could a new approach—decentralized storage—offer some solutions? That was the focus of an Internet Archive webinar on February 24. 

The online event was second in a series of six workshops entitled, “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web,” co-sponsored by DWeb and Library Futures, and presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

In the utopian version of decentralized storage, there would be collaborative, authenticated, co-hosted collections. Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, said this would make information less prone to censorship and less vulnerable to a security breach. “Taken together, resiliency, persistence, self-certification and interoperability — that is the promise of decentralized storage,” she said.

Librarians and archivists are a key part of creating a solution that is networked, said Jonathan Dotan, Founder of the Starling Lab, the first major research lab devoted to Web 3.0 technologies. 

“As a community, if we can all come together to guarantee the integrity of information, we’re in a unique position to create a new foundation of digital trust,” Dotan said. “When we think about decentralization, it’s not a single destination. It’s an unfolding process in which we continually strive to bring more and more diverse nodes into our system. And the more diverse those notes are, the more that they’re going to be able to store and verify information.”

Other speakers at the webinar included Arkadiy Kukarkin, Decentralized Web Lead Engineer for the Internet Archive, and Dominick Marino, Senior Solutions Architect and Ecosystem lead at STORJ.

The series kicked off on January 27 with an introductory session establishing some common vocabulary for this new approach to digital infrastructure.

Download the Session 2 Resource Guide 

Register for the next session:
Keeping Your Personal Data Personal: How Decentralized Identity Drives Data Privacy
March 31 @ 1pm PT / 4pm ET
Register here

The Decentralized Web: An Introduction

Amidst the hype and hoopla for decentralized tech, what should everyone really understand? Providing that baseline of knowledge is the goal of a series of six workshops called “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web.” The series kicked off on January 27 with an introductory session establishing some common vocabulary for this new approach to digital infrastructure.The event was hosted by the Internet ArchiveDWeb and Library Futures, and was presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

On our current web, most platforms are controlled by a central authority—a company, government, or individual—that maintains the code, data and servers. Ultimately, consumers must trust that those central authorities will do what is in their best interest. 

“In order to have ease of use, we have ceded control to these big platforms, and they manage our access to information, our privacy, our security, and our data,” explained Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, who led the workshop.

In contrast, the decentralized web is built on peer-to-peer technologies. Users could conceivably own their data. Rather than relying on a few dominant platforms, you could potentially store and share information across many nodes, addressing concerns about censorship, persistence and privacy.

“It is still very early days for the decentralized web,” Hanamura said. “All of us still have time to contribute and to influence where this technology goes.”

View the session resource guide.

At the event, Mai Ishikawa Sutton, founder & editor at COMPOST Mag, explained how her publication can be viewed over the decentralized web using IPFS and Hypercore, while using Creative Commons licensing to openly share its contents. In addition, Paul Frazee demonstrated Beaker Browser, an experimental browser that allows users to build peer-to-peer websites on the decentralized web.

Using the current system, Web 2.0, relies on content living on web servers in a certain location. 

“This is a problem because [publishers] want to change it. They want to update it. They … go out of business. They want to merge with somebody. And it goes away,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, noting that the average life of a web page is 100 days. The Wayback Machine was built to back up those web pages after-the-fact, but there is a need to build better decentralized technology that preserves a copy as the content is created, he said. “The Web should have a time axis.”

According to Kahle, in the future a decentralized web would look much the same to the user, but could build features such as privacy, resilience and persistence right into the code. It could also create new revenue models for creative works. For example, a decentralized web could enable buyers to make direct micropayments to creators rather than licensing them through iTunes or Amazon.

“This is a good time for us to try to make sure we guide this technology toward something we actually want to use,” Kahle said. “It’s an exciting time. We in the library world should keep focused on trying to make robust information resources available and make it so people see things in context. We want a game with many winners so we don’t end up with just one or two large corporations or publishers controlling what it is we see.”

Download the Session 1 Resource Guide.

Register for the next session:
Using Decentralized Storage to Keep Your Materials Safe
February 24 @ 1pm PT / 4pm ET
Register now

DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb

At the November 2021 DWeb Meetup, we heard the latest from a range of projects across the DWeb ecosystem and from our featured speaker, Coraline Ada Ehmke, on what a DWeb built on the foundation of mutual respect, trust and equity would look like. You can watch the recording of the event and learn more about the speakers below. You can also read the chat stream that accompanied the discussion here.

Featured Speaker

Our featured speaker at the November DWeb Meetup was Coraline Ada Ehmke, the creator of the Contributor Covenant, a code of conduct for Open Source communities. She is also author of the Hippocratic License, an open source license designed to promote and protect human rights. Coraline is a leader of the ethical source movement. In 2021, she founded the Organization for Ethical Source and currently serves as its Executive Director. She recently wrote “The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust and Equity,” exploring the third DWeb Principle.


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Featured speaker, Coraline Ada Ehmke

In her powerful essay “The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust and Equity,” Ehmke suggests a new way forward. She challenges us to go beyond a begrudging nod to leveling the playing field. “To effect meaningful change, those whose authority and privilege are sustained by inequity must yield power and distribute agency to those who are most impacted by systemic disparities.”

At the meetup, Coraline discussed what it would mean to build a new decentralized web centered on the values of respect, trust and equity. She explored how centering the values of mutual respect, trust, and equity can help us address the challenges of promoting justice and human rights in the code we create.

Watch Coraline’s talk here:

Lightning Talk Speakers


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Jenny Ryan

Jenny Ryan, Project Manager at eQualit.ie for the CENO Browser. enabling you to route around censorship with a peer-to-peer web browser. Jenny is passionate about connecting grassroots communities and global initiatives. She has co-founded and stewarded three Oakland, California nonprofits: Sudo Room, Omni Commons, and Sudo Mesh.

Watch Jenny’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Eyal Ron

Eyal Ron, Co-founder of Esteroids, the search engine for dWebsites. Eyal received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Free University of Berlin. He was also a co-founder of Almonit (discontinued) and Alpress projects, a former member of the Bisq-core team, and the main author of a couple of DIN (German standard institute) blockchain specs.

Watch Eyal’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Savannah Lee

Savannah Lee, Brand Director of Mysterium, an open-source Web3 project creating a censorship-resistant layer of the internet. She plugged into the Web 3.0 matrix four years ago, now focusing on R&D and strategies to grow P2P communities. Her goal is to help builders and users defend their digital rights and protect access to free information.

Watch Savannah’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Mask.io

Suji Yan, Founder of Mask.io which is building a decentralized web on top of the current giant platforms. Mask helps protect users’ privacy on social media by encrypting users’ posts right before sending them out, so users control their data autonomy with their own keys.

Watch Suji’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Mauve Signweaver

Mauve Signweaver, Creator of HyperGodot, a set of tools for the Godot game engine which enable developers to create local-first peer to peer games based on the protocol handlers in the Agregore browser. Mauve is a Canadian tech enthusiast with a passion for decentralization. Their main project for this is Agregore, a web browser that combines different peer to peer protocols together.

Watch Mauve’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Joy Zhang

Joy Zhang

Joy Zhang, Founder of Quark. Quark is a Web 3.0 browser x social platform that shows you paths across the internet. Joy is an award-winning designer, engineer, and entrepreneur specializing in human-computer interaction. She has led projects at Apple, IDEO, and four early stage startups, two of which were her own. Joy was featured on Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards for her sustainable online shopping plugin, shADe.

Watch Joy’s talk here:


		DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 — Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb image
Bernhard Borges

Bernhard Borges, Ph.D, Research scientist at the Fluence Project. Fluence is a peer-to-peer application platform which allows the creation of applications free of proprietary cloud providers or centralized APIs. His areas of expertise are Web3, IoT, enterprise integration, and privacy. Prior to Fluence, Bernhard was the Chief Scientist.at Dock Systems and an IBM Distinguished Engineer.

Watch Bernhard’s talk here:

You can register to attend the Holiday fair on December 8, 2021 at 10am PT here.Visit GetDWeb.net to learn more about the decentralized web. You can also follow us on Twitter at @GetDWeb for ongoing updates.

DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity’s Greatest Assets

The September 2021 DWeb Meetup explored the potential and reality of decentralized storage with two projects leading the way toward storing highly valuable cultural data at scale.

Watch the recording of the event and learn more about the speakers below.

The September 2021 DWeb meetup was held virtually on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 10am PT, optimized for American/European time zones. Wendy Hanamura welcomed attendees and kicked off the meetup. Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, set the stage for the discussion by emphasising the need for a more secure and decentralized web. The Meetup also broached the possibility of a DWeb camp in the Fall of 2022.

The discussion explained the differences between the IPFS and Filecoin systems, how they work together and delved into the two projects led by Arkadiy Kukarkin and Jonathan Dotan which are at the cutting edge of storing large scale data of high cultural significance in the Filecoin network. They discussed the challenges, successes, and future opportunities presented by these efforts.

Lastly, attendees welcomed Eseohe “Ese” Ojo, the new DWeb Projects Organizer and said farewell to Mai Ishikawa Sutton as she goes off to grad school in Japan. Mai will continue to stay connected with the DWeb community and can be reached on Twitter @maira. Ese can be reached at dweb@archive.org or on Twitter @EseoheOjo. The meetup wrapped up with socializing and networking in Gather.town. 

The next DWeb Meetup “DWeb Meetup Nov 2021 – Centering Respect, Trust and Equity in the DWeb” is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 5pm PT, optimized for Asia time zones. At this meetup, we will hear the latest in the DWeb and from our featured speaker Coraline Ada Ehmke on centering respect, trust, and equity in the DWeb. You can read Coraline’s blog post on the DWeb principle of Mutual Respect here

We’re interested in hearing from DWeb projects about the breakthroughs, challenges, and new roadmaps they might be exploring. For anyone interested in participating in lightning rounds at this meetup, let us know here.

Featured Speakers


		DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity's Greatest Assets image

Image of Arkadiy Kukarkin (Twitter: @parkan)

Arkadiy Kukarkin, DWeb engineer for the Internet Archive. Arkadiy explained this nonprofit’s history with decentralization, from BitTorrent to today. He is leading a new project to explore how the Internet Archive could better decentralize its historical archives using Filecoin. He’s starting with End-of-Term data — all US government websites as they appear at the end and beginning of each Presidential Administration — starting with the 2016-2017 transition. At this talk, Arkadiy revealed his roadmap, lessons learned, and future direction.


		DWeb Meetup September 2021 — Preserving Humanity's Greatest Assets image

Image of Jonathan Dotan 

Jonathan Dotan, Founder of the Starling Lab, the first major research lab devoted to Web3 technologies. It is affiliated with Stanford and USC. Jonathan returned to the DWeb Meetup to bring us up-to-date on the USC Shoah Foundation Project, which preserves testimony of survivors of genocide on decentralized storage at huge scale. How does the process work and how do we keep these precious artifacts safe.

Visit GetDWeb.net to learn more about the decentralized web. You can also follow us on Twitter at @GetDWeb for ongoing updates.

The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust, and Equity

By Coraline Ada Ehmke

This is the second in a series of guest blog posts exploring the real-world implications of the Decentralized Web Principles.

Coraline Ada Ehmke is the creator of the Contributor Covenant and the author of the Hippocratic License, an open source license designed to promote and protect human rights. In 2021, Coraline founded the Organization for Ethical Source and currently serves as its Executive Director.

In his 1976 paper “Communication and Cultural Domination,” sociologist and media critic Herbert Schiller warned of a future in which the cultural lives of individuals around the globe would be shaped and dictated by a small number of private media interests. The domination of US tech corporations in the online world today is the grim fulfillment of that prophecy. 

Access to the vast store of collective human knowledge is increasingly predicated on the surrender of our rights of privacy, free association, and digital autonomy to gatekeepers like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, whose entire business models depend on the normalization of surveillance capitalism. And digital colonization — the violent and repressive imposition of Western values and taxonomies — is a fundamental component of their success.

“The internet is implicated in contemporary power structures, its promise tarnished by unaccountable digital corporations, data extractivism, the marketisation of democracy and network capitalism’s connivance with surveillance states.”

(Anita Gurumurthy and Nandini Chami, “Towards a political practice of empowerment in digital times: a feminist commentary from the global South”)

Realizing the potential of the web to democratize the advance of human knowledge while preserving cultural autonomy and promoting universal human rights requires more than a begrudging (and often patronizing) nod to “global perspectives” interpreted through the lens of the Silicon Valley ethos. Achieving just outcomes requires actively prioritizing both equal access and equitable participation across social and cultural boundaries.

And this begins with centering the foundational principles of mutual respect, trust, and equity.

“Tolerance is the privilege of the powerful: it is the granting of permission to deviate from the norms of the majority. And it comes with the unspoken threat that this permission can be revoked at any time.”

Mutual Respect

Achieving mutual respect is essential for effective communication and collaboration, and plays an especially critical role in conflict resolution. 

It is important to distinguish between respect and tolerance. Tolerance is the privilege of the powerful: it is the granting of permission to deviate from the norms of the majority. And it comes with the unspoken threat that this permission can be revoked at any time. Asking the powerless to accept mere “tolerance” is asking them to endure their oppression for the comfort or convenience of their oppressors.

“That is the problem with toleration: others determine if they tolerate you, which rules and norms you need to meet in order to be allowed to participate.”

(Petra De Sutter and Bruno De Lille, “Wij willen niet getolereerd worden, wij willen respect”)

Honoring and respecting personal, social, and cultural differences in our digital communities starts with defining clear and consensual social contracts that establish the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of participation. 

Codes of conduct are important in creating and sustaining an environment of mutual respect, but in order to be effective they must be enforced consistently and fairly. This requires the additional layer of clear and transparent governance. Fostering a culture of mutual respect starts with making social contracts explicit, continually reassessing their impact, and evolving their conditions to address changes both within a community and in the world at large.

Sustaining a culture that respects our differences, rather than simply tolerating them, creates opportunities to leverage the richness and diversity of our communities for the greater good.

Trust

Building trust begins with an expectation of positive intent, and develops over time through mutual accountability. Trust is earned and sustained by accepting responsibility for our actions and their outcomes.

“Without trust, conflict is politics. With trust, conflict is the pursuit of truth.”

(Patrick Lencioni, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”)

Social scientists recognize two main forms of trust: cognitive trust and affective trust.

Cognitive trust is valued predominantly in Western cultures and is based on confidence in someone else’s skills and reliability. It is fostered by a continual display of competence and reliability, and is essentially transactional.

Affective trust is more prevalent in the Global South and Asia. This form of trust develops from a sense of emotional closeness, demonstrations of empathy, or even feelings of friendship. It is relational rather than transactional.

As with respect, trust must be considered within the context of power dynamics. Distrust toward those with power often has little or no real consequence to them, but withholding trust from the disadvantaged or disenfranchised only magnifies the impact of systemic inequalities. This is why it’s essential that those with power earn and sustain trust through what they do, while, in turn, extending trust to others by accepting and recognizing them for who they are.

Trust in a global context requires acknowledging, valuing, and developing both kinds of trust in our communities.

Equity

Equity is difficult to define, because there are so few examples of true equity in our world to draw from. One way of thinking about equity is a lack of disparity in agency across racial, ethnic, gendered, and other dimensions. The meaningful pursuit of equity requires interrupting the societal, institutional, and interpersonal injustices that sustain these disparities.

“New manifestations of racism and other forms of oppression continue to emerge and outpace our mechanisms and capacities to solve them… To be achieved and sustained, equity needs to be thought of as a structural and systemic concept.”

(Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide, Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Equity is not synonymous with equality. Equality assumes that everyone has the same needs and can succeed given the same opportunities. Meritocracy, widely heralded in the online world as a force for equality, is founded on the idea that our differences are irrelevant to success, rather than a contributor to success. This dangerously flawed premise, combined with an unwillingness to acknowledge intrinsic power imbalances, has only served to compound the impact of deeply-rooted disparities in the digital world.

“To effect meaningful change, those whose authority and privilege are sustained by inequity must yield power and distribute agency to those who are most impacted by systemic disparities.”

Inequity is not a problem that can be solved from first principles. Those with power cannot define what is or is not equitable. Deciding what’s best for the marginalized, rather than meaningfully empowering them to make these determinations for themselves, is itself a manifestation of inequity.  Racism and other forms of oppression are self-perpetuating and constantly evolve in response to efforts to mitigate them, so strategies for addressing these issues must also evolve and adapt. Focusing exclusively on “quick fixes,” for example, outreach without corresponding investments in cultural and structural change, often do more harm than good.

Injustice cannot be cured by mere consultation, engagement, or representation. To effect meaningful change, those whose authority and privilege are sustained by inequity must yield power and distribute agency to those who are most impacted by systemic disparities.

Closing the Circle

The values of respect, trust, and equity are interconnected and inseparable. Putting them into practice means continually reassessing and re-imagining what a just world might look like. It means acknowledging that the same technologies we create and use with the intent of realizing these ideals, can (and will) be abused to instead sustain and magnify systemic injustice — at an otherwise unimaginable scale.

Values that are expressed but that do not guide our actions are merely performative. Real progress can only come about when we go beyond our good intentions, and take responsibility for impact and outcomes. Ultimately, we are accountable not only to our collaborators and our users, but also to our broader global society.


You can read the DWeb Principles in full, and add your name as a supporter.

Dweb Meetup: The Latest in the DWeb Ecosystem

Even amidst the COVID lock down, builders of the Decentralized Web have hit new milestones with their projects this year. At our last DWeb Meetup of 2020, we heard from a dozen projects about their breakthroughs, challenges, and roadmaps for the coming year.

As with all of our DWeb Meetups, these lightning talks provided an opportunity for us to learn from others and explore potential partnerships and collaboration. We had rounds of 5 minute talks with 2 minutes of Q&A in Zoom.

Here were the speakers (and the times when they appear in the video):

  1. Dietrich Ayala, Ecosystem Lead, IPFS (05:30)
  2. Yisi Liu, Founder, DWeb Shanghai (15:35)
  3. Karissa McKelvey, Researcher, Simply Secure (24:02)
  4. Mark Nadal, founder, Gun.eco (32:45)
  5. Adam Souzis, One Commons (41:47)
  6. Paul Frazee, founder, Beaker Browser (50:28)
  7. Maria Bustillos, Co-Founder, Brick House Co-operative (1:00:40)
  8. Mauve Signweaver, Agregore (1:10:12)
  9. Tom Trowbridge, Co-founder, Fluence Labs (1:17:42)
  10. Travis Vachon, ItMe.company (1:27:01)
  11. Brandon Wallace, Plan Systems.org (1:35:03)
  12. Michael Toomim, Braid (1:44:35)

Descriptions of Speakers and Their Lightning Talks

1. Dietrich Ayala, Ecosystem Lead, IPFS

Big is Small is Big: IPFS Usage, Users and Use-cases in 2020

As adoption and availability of IPFS grew in 2020, we saw it used across a broad spectrum of applications, varying widely in industry category, use-case, architecture and more. IPFS ecosystem lead Dietrich Ayala will speedrun through a sampling of these, sharing what was learned and how our users are guiding the IPFS project into 2021

Twitter: @dietrich

2. Yisi Liu, Founder, DWeb Meetup Shanghai

A Volunteer-based Mesh Network Workshop in China Academy of Art

DWeb Shanghai, along with the Institute of Network Society at China Academy of Art, co-hosted a special workshop this month on building mesh networks at its fifth annual conference. Yisi will share what they did and what they learned from the workshop and its participants.

Twitter: @TheYisiLiu

3. Karissa McKelvey, Researcher, Simply Secure

Decentralization Off The Shelf: Patterns x Decentralized Applications

It’s hard to get started building a decentralized application. Even if you’ve been building them for years, it’s hard to get them adopted. Decentralized applications operate differently than centralized ones — and we need new tools that developers and designers can use to understand how to build applications. Simply Secure is now producing a library of resources, assets, and patterns to support the design and development of better user-facing applications that are backed by decentralized architecture.

Twitter: @okdistribute

4. Mark Nadal, Founder, Gun.eco

Founded in 2014, GUN is an open source cybersecurity protocol for synchronizing graph data in decentralized mesh networks. It is as easy as Firebase yet supports end-to-end encryption and uses “CRDT” algorithms instead of a Blockchain.

In 2020, GUN hit 200M+ downloads with 30M monthly active users. The project is powered by 2 full time staff, 10 part-time volunteers, and 100+ contributors.

Twitter: @marknadal

5. Adam Souzis, One Commons

Building an Open Cloud at OneCommons

“At the DWeb Camp in 2019 I led a brainstorming session on how we can build a cloud providing the same openness and freedoms to users and developers as open source. One year and a pandemic later, I’m excited to finally release the first step in pursuit of that vision: “ensembles”, git repositories that package open cloud services.

They are designed to be the building blocks of an open and decentralized cloud infrastructure: reproducible, relocatable and shareable. Decentralization is obtained via a notion of a persistent identity that is defined not by a network location but rather a reproducible state.”

6. Paul Frazee, Founder, Breaker Browser

Beaker Browser 1.0: Share P2P Websites

“Unless there was a disaster between my talk-submission and Thursday, then Beaker Browser 1.0 is now available! Join us for a quick overview of building and sharing peer-to-peer Websites with this newest release.”

Twitter: @pfrazee

7. Maria Bustillos, Co-Founder, Brick House Co-operative

Decorporatizing the Public Sphere

Megaplatforms from Amazon to Facebook to Penguin Random House have flattened and centralized the human imagination. Netizens know that something is draining out of our world, that there’s less variety, less brilliance, and fewer surprises, in our movies, music, and writing. But it’s not clear to most that this cultural deterioration is the result of a breakneck form of capitalism enabled by technology.

The Brick House Cooperative, launching December 8th, is addressing this problem as writers and artists, ‘from the other side’. They’re looking to join forces with technologists and others interested in decorporatizing media. Maria will also share how her previous experience with Civil, a blockchain-based media platform that aimed to fund journalism, will inform her work with The Brick House.

Twitter: @mariabustillos

8. Mauve Signweaver, Founder, Agregore

Agregore: Local-First Web Of Everything

Agregore is a local-first web browser which aims to simplify application development across different peer-to-peer protocols while staying as minimal and customizable as possible. Through Agregore, Mauve is trying to address the issue of web browsers not having access to full peer-to-peer protocols. They want to make creating local-first apps easier by simplifying the programming interface and app distribution method.

Twitter: @RangerMauve

9. Tom Trowbridge, Founder, Fluence Labs

Fluence Labs was established in 2017 by 3 founders, Dmitry Kurinskiy, Tom Trowbridge and Evgeny Ponomarev. They started in 2017 and spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with decentralized computing. Just recently, in November 2020 they launched Phase 1 of Fluence: the decentralized computing protocol that allows applications to build on each other, share data and users. They call it an open application platform.

The goal of Fluence is to enable the next wave of internet innovation by turning the competition into collaboration. Fluence creates an open alternative to proprietary platforms, enabling developers to build with confidence and be fairly compensated for usage.

Twitter: @Fluence_Project

10. Travis Vachon, itme

Self Determination for our Digital Bodies with Solid

Centralized tech monopolies and other large corporations capture the vast majority of the value of the world’s data in 2020. In order to create the conditions necessary to return this value to the world’s users, we need new politico-technical-social institutions that give users the ability to provide and retract informed consent over the ways their data is used. itme is building the world’s first cooperatively owned and operated data union built on Tim Berners-Lee’s new Solid web standard to let users reassemble their digital bodies and capture the value of the data they create.

Twitter: @itmepress

11. Brandon Wallace, President, PLAN Systems

PLAN Systems is a technology 501(c)(3) founded in 2018 by two U.S. veterans in Austin TX., including Drew O’Meara, inventor of G-Force realtime audio reactive music visualizations. Their development effort centers on building a framework of open protocols and universally accessible interfaces designed for privacy, real time collaboration, data visualization, and secure data storage & portability. November was a critical milestone, demonstrating PLAN (pre-alpha) running on 4 major platforms across desktop and mobile devices.

Github: https://github.com/plan-systems

Email them at info [at] plan-systems.org to learn more and get involved.

12. Michael Toomim, Braid

How Braid is growing, from Dweb to the IETF

“At 2019’s Dwebcamp, a group of us found a back room and spontaneously designed a shared protocol for distributed synchronization. Tim Berners-Lee walked by, and thought it would be a great addition to the web.

We will report on what’s happened since!

We presented the protocol to the IETF’s HTTP Working Group in Montreal, and received a surprisingly enthusiastic reception. We are now building software on the protocol, to show how HTTP can be extended into a distributed shared fabric for local-first applications, users, and systems, with great debugging and tooling.”

DWeb Panel: If Big Tech Is Toxic, How Do We Build Something Better?

Many of us know that the Internet is broken, so how do we build something better? On September 22, DWeb San Francisco invited a panel of experts to share their views on the most viable paths forward. The panelists included author & EFF advisor Cory Doctorow, Matrix.org co-founder Amandine Le Pape, decentralized social media researcher Jay Graber, and TechDirt’s Mike Masnick. They covered a range of approaches — including technical, regulatory, and organizational — that could bring us towards a future where our networks are more resilient, participatory, and decentralized.

ABOUT THE PANELISTS:

Best-selling science fiction author and EFF Special Advisor, Cory Doctorow, emphasized that we need to fix the Internet, not the tech companies by doing a lot more to bring back principles of interoperability, to enable more competition and innovation. 

Developer, and founder of Happening, Jay Graber, shared her insights on what she found hopeful about the decentralized web ecosystem, and some of the challenges that some of these protocols still need to grapple with moving forward. 

Chief Operating Officer of Element and Co-founder of the Matrix.org Foundation, Amandine Le Pape, shared what she learned as Matrix built a new open standard for real-time communication from the ground up, as well as her ideas on how to counter the information silos of the big centralized platforms. 

Journalist and co-founder of Techdirt, Mike Masnick, shared about the way people were realizing the need for change, and also some of his skepticism about how some proposed regulations to enforce interoperability may harm start-ups and other less-resourced projects. Masnick’s 2019 white paper, “Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech” has been an influential call to arms for the decentralized tech community.

As Mike Masnick writes:

At a time when so many proposals for how to deal with the big internet companies seem focused on spite and anger at those companies, rather than thoughtful discussions of how we get to what’s coming next, at the very least I’m hopeful that others can be inspired…to come up with their own ideas for a better, more proactive approach to a future internet.

Ultimately, that vision—building a better Internet and Web—is the North Star that the DWeb community aims for.