Guest blog by Antonia Bustamante from the DWeb Camp Core Organizing team.
Cerca de Ubatuba, a cuatro horas de la inmensa capital del estado de São Paulo, nos recibió en septiembre un paraíso brasilero de montaña y mar donde uno quisiera quedarse para siempre: el Instituto Neos. Allí Coolab (laboratorio cooperativo de redes libres) organizó el primer DWeb+Coolab Camp, versión brasilera del DWeb Camp.
El Instituto Neos está ubicado en un espacio que a principios de la década de 2000 funcionó como centro cultural y de exploración artística para niñxs y adolescentes. Años después fue abandonado y la ávida vegetación tropical comenzó a devorar los edificios vacíos. En 2017 el predio fue rematado y algunas personas, que conforman el colectivo Neos, lo compraron para construir un proyecto de sociobiodiversidad. Este fue el lugar que Coolab eligió para alojar el encuentro, aprovechando además para dejar al Instituto la infraestructura de mejoramiento físico de acceso a Internet construida durante el evento.
Equipos para mejorar la infraestructura de la red de conexión a Internet.
Los días que pasamos allí dormimos en carpas y habitaciones compartidas. Delicias culinarias preparadas por la gente del colectivo con especies animales y vegetales locales nos alimentaron. Todxs nos turnamos las tareas de limpieza y bienestar, y algunxs asistentes trilingües nos hicieron sentir como en casa saltando del portugués al castellano y al inglés sin ningún esfuerzo.
En agosto de 2022 y nuevamente en junio de este año se organizó el DWeb Camp en un bosque de sequoias ubicado unas horas al norte de San Francisco. En este encuentro se convoca anualmente, durante cuatro días, a personas de distintas partes del mundo que trabajan y se interesan por la descentralización de la web, tanto desde el aspecto técnico como desde lógicas colectivas y proyectos de empoderamiento social.
En medio de ese bosque, el año pasado, un círculo alrededor del fuego invitó a hablar sobre una posible versión brasilera del encuentro. La cosa tomó forma y este año Coolab organizó la primera edición, siguiendo con su labor de abrir espacios de diálogo y cooperación sobre redes comunitarias y tecnologías de descentralización y apropiación tecnológica.
Los contextos naturales de ambos eventos, aunque bellísimos, son radicalmente distintos. También las lógicas de organización y de interacción entre las personas fueron otras. El Sur y el Norte haciendo sus propias versiones de un encuentro en el que tenemos todxs objetivos comunes pero, a la vez, particularidades locales a las que pensamos que es necesario responder con el desarrollo de tecnologías, narrativas y estrategias particulares.
Conversación al aire libre sobre formas cooperativas de trabajo.
Esa fue una de las preguntas que estuvo presente en los días que pasamos juntxs en Brasil: ¿Qué es para nosotrxs la web descentralizada? ¿Cuáles son sus principios?
En el sitio de DWeb pueden leerse los principios propuestos desde el Norte por la organización:
Un atardecer, sentadxs en la playa, conversamos sobre ellos: ¿Estamos de acuerdo o quisiéramos proponer otros? ¿Entendemos de la misma forma la web, Internet, las redes comunitarias y las tecnologías de comunicación digital? Más que respuestas nos llevamos preguntas e ideas inspiradoras.
Conversación en la playa liderada por Nico Pace de APC.
En diálogo con las posibilidades de descentralización de la web, el encuentro en Brasil se enfocó, en gran parte, en la agroecología. Brasil tiene una larga historia de movimientos políticos relacionados con la tierra y el cultivo. Desde los años 70 del siglo pasado el Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Movimiento de los Trabajadores Rurales sin Tierra – MST), uno de los movimientos sociales más grandes de América Latina, ha luchado por la reforma agraria y por la propiedad productiva de pequeñas y medianas extensiones de tierra por parte de quienes la trabajan. Hoy el movimiento reúne a cerca de 450 mil familias en 24 estados del país.
Al DWeb+Coolab Camp fue gente que trabaja la tierra, en la tierra, que nunca antes había salido de sus pueblos. Llegaron planteando problemas técnicos particulares y localizados. Fueron también personas que viven en la periferia de las ciudades brasileras y tienen proyectos de educación popular y uso de tecnologías digitales. Niñxs, adolescentes y adultxs llegamos desde el Sur y el Norte de América, y desde Europa. Yo me fasciné una vez más por la fuerza, el amor y la cooperación que une a esta comunidad y por la calidez del Brasil y su gente, que destila cariño y simpatía cada vez que canta, baila, ríe o habla en serio.
Uno de los invitados brasileros contándonos que nunca antes había salido del lugar en el que vive.
Los temas de las actividades propuestas por lxs asistentes (talleres, charlas, juegos, círculos de conversación…) fueron amplios. Desde las posibilidades o soluciones técnicas que ofrecen herramientas y desarrollos ya existentes, hasta preguntas humanas sobre el trabajo cooperativo, las formas de la atención, la relación con otrxs, la creación colectiva y la improvisación. Resalto entre los aprendizajes la importancia de vivir y comprender a fondo las problemáticas localizadas, las particularidades, el territorio, la temporalidad, el contexto, antes de proponer soluciones tecnológicas desde la abstracción de una pantalla o la distancia de las ciudades. Cada comunidad o grupo humano tiene sus lógicas de trabajo, de comunicación, sus ritmos, sus prioridades, sus formas, y es de esto que debemos partir para el desarrollo técnico. Lo contrario es a menudo violento o inútil.
Hiure (Coolab) hablando sobre el evento en el anfiteatro
En la comunidad de la web descentralizada (DWeb) aprovechamos Internet, que nos une, y trabajamos por la construcción de redes que faciliten y extiendan el acceso al conocimiento, pero sabemos que una red es mucho más que un conjunto de aparatos, cables y señales eléctricas. Una red es sobre todo la gente que construye, que enseña y aprende, que dialoga y sostiene. Larga vida a Coolab y al DWeb Camp y ojalá que en cada encuentro el movimiento se fortalezca cada vez más y halle nuevas razones e impulsos para existir y resistir.
Antonia Bustamante nació en Bogotá, Colombia. Se interesa por las relaciones entre el código, las tecnologías, las artes y los medios, especialmente en el ámbito digital. Trabaja como programadora e investigadora en el laboratorio EnFlujo (https://enflujo.com/) de la Universidad de Los Andes y como ingeniera de sonido en vivo con distintos grupos musicales. En su tercera vida cursa una maestría en Filosofía y cuida gatos.
Antonia Bustamante was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She is interested in the intersection between code, technologies, arts and media, especially in the digital realm. She works as a programmer and researcher in the EnFlujo laboratory (https://enflujo.com/) at Los Andes University and as a live sound engineer with different musical groups. In her third life she is pursuing a master’s degree in Philosophy and takes care of cats.
It’s 10 am and I’ve already been traveling for 20 hours — two planes and a long layover from California on my way to Ubatuba, a town 4-hours northeast of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I feel nervous. I’ve never been to Brazil before but the bus ride is serene. The city buildings give way to lush rainforest along the mountainside. It’s almost silent on the bus, a calm quiet. I take a cue from the locals, close my eyes and try to get some rest. I am on my way to DWeb+Coolab Camp Brazil.
View of buildings at Neos Institute where campers found cover from the elements. Photo by: Bruno Caldas Viannalicensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Deed
My phone buzzes. It’s Victor (Coolab) and Dana (Colnodo). They pick me up from the station and we’re off to Neos Institute, where we’ll spend the next five days together. Coolab Camp is a continuing experiment in the DWeb movement — weaving together technologists, dreamers, builders, and organizers in a beautiful outdoor setting, providing food and shelter for the week, then letting the sharing, imagination, and community building fly.
Gathering on the first day to talk about the themes of agriculture and ecology.
I arrive early to help set up parts of the camp, which is being hosted by the Neos Institute for Sociobiodiversity. They are a collective that has spent the last six years rebuilding this once dilapidated cultural center. One of Neos’ goals is to protect and conserve this area, the Brazilian Atlantic forest. Only about 10% of this forest remains in the wake of development.
This spirit of conservation overlays with the themes of Camp: agriculture, sustainability, and ecology. Coolab is bringing together farmers and organizers from Latin America with DWeb builders and technologists to discover how we can take care of both our digital and physical landscapes.
My roommate, Bruna, from the Transfeminist Network of Digital Care, shares their work on Pratododia. They use the metaphor of food to explain how we can practice healthier technology habits. For instance, just as we wash our hands before meals, it’s important to check our security and privacy settings online before tasting everything the internet offers us.
Papaya, mango, and watermelon served during our vegetarian meals.
Coolab Camp is more than a conference, it is an experiment in building a pop-up community. We start each day with a general meeting at the Casarão (Big House), where we forge acordos (agreements) about how to take care of the space and each other.
Alexandre from Coletivo Neos goes over the history of the Neos Institute.
Coolab Camp morning meetings are at once relaxed and energizing.
These acordos range from simple things: don’t feed the cats and take off your shoes — to strong expressions of our values: no oppression or discrimination of any kind based on class, race, gender, or sexual orientation. At the beginning of every meeting we reiterate these agreements and ask ourselves: do we still agree, does anything need to be changed, does anything need to be added?
This daily gathering is only possible because the event is small, about 80 people over the five days of Camp. That intimacy means we recognize familiar faces and at least exchange a friendly greeting (Bom dia!). There are no janitors to clean up during the event. We wash our own dishes and clean our own bathrooms.
A community member helps setup the mesh network.
Folks also volunteer to be the “olhos (eyes) ” and “ouvidos (ears)” of the community. The Olhos serve to watch out for any misbehavior. The Ouvidos are there to listen if someone has issues they are uncomfortable bringing up to the group. All of this adds to the building of our community.
Marcela and Tomate crafting posters and zines.
How do we communicate at Camp? First, we test some technological solutions like a Mumble server for multiple audio channels, then having AI do live translation. But in the end, the best solution is human: to have another person by our side.
A lot of the Brazilian campers speak both Portuguese and English, so volunteers translate whispering next to us English-only speakers. It is incredibly humbling to have community members put so much energy into making sure we are included in the conversations and know what is going on.
Creating our session schedule through unconference.
Next comes the fun part, the sessions and workshops! Sessions are organized through an unconference where everyone proposes sessions, determines their interests, and those garnering the most interest place themselves on the schedule. Workshops range from:
Learning programming with Scratch for kids and beginners
Working with a mesh network
ODD.SDK – a local-first framework for app development
An analog map of the camp site and where routers for the mesh network will go.
Campers gather around the firepit to share experiences working in cooperatives.
Luandro Viera from Digital Democracy shares the Earth Defender’s Toolkit.
One of my favorite sessions is with Ana, a Brazilian farmer and social researcher guiding us through a game called Sanctuaries of Attention. It happens on the last day. It is impromptu and they just ask around for people to join after breakfast.
Ana is able to lead the session in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. We spend two hours sharing stories of how our attention changes in different situations and which situations feel safe for us — ”sanctuaries” that we can rest in.
The unconference style suits DWeb+Coolab Camp, because it allows the time and space for sessions like these to happen organically, without constraints.
Ana guides participants through the Sanctuaries of Attention.
Nico teaches programming for beginners using Scratch.
Setting up network equipment for the mesh network on site.
Some sessions are discussions around topics like:
Experiences as a cooperative
How to organize groups using sociocracy
Sharing challenges and workarounds managing a community network
It doesn’t hurt that we can hold some of these discussions at the beach. There are also plenty of casual conversations over meals, on a couch, or lounging in a hammock.
Discussion on the beach about community networks.
One of the things I’ll keep with me from those conversations is a new way of understanding the saying, “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
Those of us from luckier circumstances fret about the end of the world. Those from different circumstances have already seen it happen. Their economic systems have collapsed or their environment is suffering through the worst of the climate catastrophe. The end of the world is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
But an end is just a new beginning. Here in Brazil, we meet in the forest with people who are already rebuilding, regenerating from the ruins. The contributions we make will remain. Regeneration is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
Peixe (Fish) and Ondas (Waves), the spaces where sessions were held.
Farmers, organizers, designers and technologists at DWeb+Coolab Camp Brazil 2023.
We could have been anywhere, but we got the opportunity to be within the songs of the birds, the whispers of the trees, and the laughter of the sea. Within smiles and greetings, warm embraces and supportive shoulders. To all the people who gathered us together: Tania, Hiure, Marcela, Luandro, Victor, Dana, Bruno, Marcus, Colectivo Neos and anyone else I may have forgotten, thank you for showing us how to regenerate culture, environment and technology through community. Obrigado!
The design and development of most network technologies remains in the hands of the few. In light of this, the right to privacy and freedom of expression can end up being a privilege controlled by large corporations that are incentivized to profit from our digital connections. Meanwhile, a homogenized internet makes it difficult for individuals and communities to express multiple identities and have the agency to determine their own networks.
Thankfully, around us you can always find people who in their day-by-day work contribute to developing a fairer reality for everyone – one that defends environmental justice and social inclusion, innovation at the service of life, and a world where all worlds fit, both online and offline.
The DWeb Fellowship invites people from around the world to come to California for DWeb Camp. This year, we had 36 Fellows – they traveled from India, Cambodia, Argentina, Cuba, Kenya, Malawi, Germany, Italy, and from many other places overseas, as well as from across North America and the Bay Area. We selected these exceptional individuals because they invite and challenge us to transform our reality and co-create a vision of a better Web.
And in practice, they are the embodiment of the DWeb Principles (https://getdweb.net/principles/). The DWeb Principles reflect what we aim for as we work to build a decentralized web – the distributed protocols, applications, organizations, culture, and everything in between that make it possible to manifest the webs of digital connection that make us better humans for each other and all other life on this planet. Our Fellows work to realize the promise of a decentralized Web – where power is decentralized and control over digital infrastructure is meaningfully distributed. They use and build interoperable, free and open source tools to uplift communities in some of the most challenging contexts. They come from open and transparent organizations that govern their projects in a way that actively pursues equity, mutual trust, and respect. And they demonstrate how network technologies can bring about justice and advance individual and collective agency by prioritizing relationships and building communities of care.
In honor of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, we asked the Fellows to participate in our opening ceremony. One of our Fellows, Kanyon “Coyote Woman” Sayers-Roods, led us in a song in the language of the Costanoan Ohlone-Mutsun and Chumash people, those native to the area that is now known as Northern California. As the Fellows each lit a candle around us, we recognized them as leaders lighting the way towards a better, truly decentralized web – one that distributes power and ensures that individuals and communities share the privileges and responsibilities to steward the network technologies they rely on.
We were lucky to have them at Camp this year to share their perspectives, wisdom, and stories with us. As organizers of DWeb Camp, we continue to strive to find ways to amplify their voices in this movement and support their work.
2023 DWeb Fellows
Akhilesh Thite (https://akhilesh.art/) is an Indian tech enthusiast with a passion for decentralization. He is the founder of P2P Labs (https://p2plabs.xyz/), an open-source organization with a focus on building curated web3 infrastructure tools for the decentralized internet, leveraging the IPFS protocol. He is currently developing a minimal p2p web browser named Peersky. Akhilesh is often found participating in Hackathons or working on devgrants, he has won eight Web3 hackathons. His goal is to develop decentralized tools that significantly contribute to the betterment of humanity.
Amber Gallant is a Masters’ student at the iSchool at the University of British Columbia. She is a librarian, writer, and open-source enthusiast with professional interests in data ethics and digital commoning spaces. She currently acts as the project manager of the Guardians of the Record Lab (https://blockchain.ubc.ca/research/guardians-record-lab), a group that conducts research into maintaining and protecting the integrity of records in human rights contexts and investigates the use of decentralized archival technologies for this purpose. She is also completing an original research project through Blockchain@UBC, where she is examining humanitarian blockchain projects and the data rights of users in conflict contexts through the lens of data justice.
Andrew Chou (https://andrew.nonetoohappy.buzz) is a technologist based in NYC that tends to explore the various corners of the internet. He currently works as a developer with Digital Democracy (http://digital-democracyr.org) and Manyverse (https://manyver.se), building offline-first applications that are designed on the basis of decentralization and autonomy.
Anh Lê is a transdisciplinary researcher and artist based in Lenapehoking/NYC. Recently, they’ve built community-owned internet infrastructure with Community Tech NY/Community Technology Collective and designed advocacy campaigns to support Southeast Asian movement building in NYC. They are currently pursuing their Masters in International Affairs at The New School, where their research focuses on border technologies, migration, and digital rights.
Arky Ambati Rakesh is a technologist and a visual storyteller based in Southeast Asia. Arky has contributed to open source projects aimed at providing equitable access to digital tools and an open web. Over the past decade, Arky has been involved with Free/Libre and Open Source communities and has worked with organizations such as Braille Without Borders (BWB), NGO Resource Center and Mozilla in Asia and Africa.
Barbara Gonzalez Segovia (she/they) is a BIPOC, queer, feminist who sees herself as a social activist. She is passionate about amplifying people’s voices from anti-racist and anti-oppressive lenses, both in her professional and personal life. She values kindness and vulnerability, and is fully committed to infuse the world with joy. These days Barbara works with Digital Democracy (https://www.digital-democracy.org/), supporting grassroot communities and earth defenders utilizing tech tools to defend their ancestral lands. She has over a decade of experience in community development, indigenous rights, and gender equality. Her work has been focusing on program planning, community outreach, and organizational development, particularly within Indigenous organizations and indigenous nations from different countries in South America.
Benson Tilya is a conservation manager and seedbank analyst at Saving Africa’s Nature (http://www.karibusana.com/) in Tanzania. He has been instrumental in the encouragement, support and monitoring of SANA projects in Saadani National Park villages in Tanzania; engaged in conservation activities such as seed banking, greenhouse management and restoration of the forest corridor via tree planting projects. He stands on the thesis that technology and nature don’t have to act as antagonists; that the science behind digital technology can and should work in tandem with the respect for the natural world to subvert deforestation and promote long-term environmentally conscientious solutions.
Blake Stoner is a grassroots reporter, social entrepreneur, and tech enthusiast with a history of community advocacy. After working on over 10 grassroots campaigns, he noticed many communities across the United States of America needed more representation to highlight their culture and concerns. He believes that an important challenge to address right now is the growing crisis of news deserts that disproportionately leave communities of color ill-represented and uninformed. In response, he founded Vngle, a grassroots news network which provides an equitable decentralized approach to local reporting and brings nonpartisan coverage to underreported geographic and demographic areas. Through a gig-economy model, it verifies and trains local citizens with smartphones to serve as reporters and editors. Through scaling, Vngle seeks to make verifiable news mainstream, where anyone can check the origin of where, when, & how stories are captured through a public ledger.
brandon king is a dj/sound-selector, multidisciplinary artist, and cultural organizer from the Atlantic Ocean by way of Hampton Roads VA, who creates installations exploring African Diasporic identities, honoring his ancestors’ stories through archival and found materials, sound collages, painting, film, and other forms. he is a founding member of Cooperation Jackson (https://cooperationjackson.org/), a cooperative network in Jackson Mississippi and currently serves as the Executive of Resonate Coop (https://resonate.coop/), an international, open source, music streaming platform cooperative. he is also a member of the NYC based artist collective PTP (Purple Tape Pedigree)(http://ptp.vision/) and is currently an MFA candidate at Queens College focusing on Social Practice and Installation.
Calum Bowden is an artist working with organizations as a medium. He collaborates on stories, games, and platforms that relink the cultural with technology, economics, politics and ecology. He co-founded Trust (https://trust.support/) and Black Swan. Trust is a network of utopian conspirators, a sandbox for creative, technical, and critical projects, and site of experimentation for new ways of learning together. Trust is a hybrid online and physical space in Berlin for inquiry into emerging social and political phenomena through the lenses of aesthetic, narrative, game, technical, climate and design research. Since 2018, Trust has developed a public programme that includes lectures, installations, residency programmes, reading groups, working groups, live-streamed participatory events, and online resources. Trust incubates software projects that build a creative culture of the commons.
Camille Nibungco (http://camillenibung.co) is a designer currently based in Los Angeles, CA. They most recently helped build the Angelena Atlas project, an crowd-sourced intersectional community network/resource for marginalized folks in Los Angeles. They currently work in the healthcare tech space and are interested in decentralized technologies/web3 as a tool for working class sovereignty, labor, and grassroots change.
Chia Amisola (https://chia.design) is an internet + ambient artist born and raised in the Philippines, and now based in San Francisco. Their (web)site-specific art is an act of worldmaking constructing spaces, systems, and tools that posit worlds where creation is synonymous with liberation. Ambience is political: their environments tackle infrastructure, poetics, labor, and maintenance. Simply put, they wish to gather all the people they love in one place and explore how the internet might be that place. Chia is the Founder of Developh (https://developh.org) and the Philippine Internet Archive (https://philippineinternetarchive.com/). They graduated from Yale University in 2022 with a BA in Computing & the Arts, receiving the Sudler Prize.
Cody Harris is a technical volunteer with Seattle Community Network (https://seattlecommunitynetwork.org/) and assisted with the deployment and operations of the DWeb network in 2022. He has volunteered at the Connections Museum in Seattle, a hands-on museum of vintage (mostly Bell System) telecom equipment, giving tours and working on the exhibits since 2019. At ToorCamp 2022, he participated in a performance art project with the ShadyTel hacker collective establishing a telecom bureaucracy and deploying an analog switched telephone network to connect campers’ landline phones, modems, and fax machines.
Esther Jang is a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on community networks in both rural remote and urban contexts, and especially how communities of practice can build and sustain technical infrastructures. She has helped install community networks in the Philippines, Mexico, Tanzania, and various states around the US. She is currently a lead organizer and installer for the Seattle Community Network (https://seattlecommunitynetwork.org/), which seeks to build community-owned and maintained Internet access infrastructure to support digital equity in Seattle and Tacoma. She serves as a Director at the Local Connectivity Lab, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focusing on technology research, deployment, and teaching in support of community networks around the world. In her free time, she is an avid jazz singer and plays with a band called Django Junction in Seattle.
fauno’s work and activism is focused on investigating, adapting and implementing ecological and resilient technologies, specially autonomous, collectively managed infrastructure. In the last five years he has been working almost exclusively on resilient web sites using Jekyll and developing a platform for updating and hosting them called Sutty (https://sutty.nl/).
Jack Fox Keen is the Data Empowerment Lead for the Guardian Project’s ProofMode application (https://guardianproject.info/apps/org.witness.proofmode/), a cryptographically verifiable way of providing visual evidence of the world around us. Jack has been doing data analytics for non-profits for the last two years, after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in biomathematics and scientific computing. They will be starting a PhD program at UC Santa Cruz this September, where they will focus on explainable artificial intelligence. They are focused on ethical data acquisition and analysis, pulling inspiration and guidance from many realms of life, including intersectional feminism, queer theory, and decolonial studies.
Jacky Zhao (https://jzhao.xyz/) is an independent researcher and open source maintainer. Currently, he is exploring what agentic, interoperable, and communal technology looks like in his research practice: how might we create infrastructures and technologies that empower the residents of the web to have access to the same tools as the architect? On a broader level, he cares deeply about creating spaces that enable others to have more agency: agency to ask questions without judgement; agency to do what they are intrinsically drawn toward; agency to play (because what’s the point if we can’t have a bit of fun?). In his spare time, he works with Hypha Worker Co-op on Distributed Press (https://distributed.press/) and is a core contributor at verses (https://verses.xyz/).
James Gondwe is the founder and Director of Centre for Youth and Development. His passion for decentralized approaches to digital literacy and connectivity has positioned him at the forefront of exploring the transformative role of ICT, including the internet, in enabling opportunities for marginalized communities. James is a recipient of the Royal Commonwealth Queens Young Leaders Associate Fellowship, 2016 One Young World Ambassador, honored with the Trust Conference Changemakers Award, and is a recipient of the African Community Networks Summit Fellowship. Through his unwavering dedication to community empowerment, he drives change by bridging the digital divide and creating opportunities for marginalized individuals and communities.
Kanyon Coyote Woman Sayers-Roods (https://about.me/kanyon.coyotewoman) is an Ohlone Mutsun and Chumash Native American whose art serves as a heartfelt expression of her Native heritage. Kanyon is a dedicated and active member of the Native Community, assuming various roles as an artist, poet, activist, student, and teacher, inspiring emerging scholars to explore their creative paths and embrace decolonization. Graduated with an A.S+B.S with honors from the Art Institute of CA majoring in Web Design and Interactive Media, Kanyon weaves her knowledge of the digital world and her ancestral knowledge of the land. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Kanyon also serves as the CEO of Kanyon Konsulting (https://kanyonkonsulting.com) and acts as a caretaker for Indian Canyon, a “Federally recognized Indian Country” (https://patreon.com/IndianCanyon) situated between San Francisco and Monterey (https://costanoan.org).
Luisa Bagope is a documentary director interested in cyber as well as natural and human technology. With support from APC she has been documenting community network activities in the global south and was an active participant of PSP Community Network (Portal sem Porteiras – https://portalsemporteiras.github.io/) for 3 years. Luisa coordinated the Nodes That Bond project: a collective learning process centered around technology that happened through circular encounters amongst women. Focusing on feminist methods of community-based organization, she now continues to work with communication as a potency for social transformation in the Afluentes Association, in Monteiro Lobato, Brasil.
Marcela Guerra is a writer, artisan, and mother. She learned with Oankali that humans have an inevitable tendency to hierarchy. Even though she recognizes this tendency in all the relationships she can witness, she challenges herself to imagine non-hierarchical technologies, especially the communication ones. Marcela is part of the Portal sem Porteiras association (PSP – https://portalsemporteiras.github.io/) that runs a community internet network. She is a co-creator of the project Nodes that Bonds (https://portalsemporteiras.github.io/en/nos-por-nos/2019/) which takes place in the PSP network and member of the collective Sítio do Astronauta (https://sitiodoastronauta.com.br/) that teaches electronic handicraft. She is also part of Marlu Studio, which develops methodologies for the creation of community fictions.
Mark Anthony Hernandez Motaghy is an artist and cultural worker of Mexican and Iranian descent. Operating with mediums such as experimental video, as well as installation, books, and oral histories, Mark’s practice explores the digital commons, care-based economies, and sociotechnical imaginaries. They recently published the zine-book Rehearsing Solidarity: Learning from Mutual Aid with Thick Press. The book archives how mutual aid groups assembled solidarity digital infrastructures for the COVID-19 crisis and how they sustainably reassembled for sustaining communal care. Currently, they are a fellow at Ujima Boston Project, providing artistic and editorial direction for a new magazine on art, culture, and the solidarity economy.
Maurice Haedo Sanabria (m00.copincha.org) is an industrial designer passionate about technology and its impact on society. His work focuses on the circulation of information and the creation of goods through open collaboration, especially in Cuba, where material scarcity and limited Internet connectivity have forced society to seek creative alternatives. Five years ago, he transformed his own home in Downtown Havana into a hackerspace/laboratory called Copincha. (In Cuban slang, “pincha” means work, so “Copincha” can be understood as “collective work”.) Inspired by “DIY” and “do it together” philosophies, Copincha’s members use collaborative, open-source methods to share knowledge and develop solutions to local challenges through transdisciplinary, resilient and ecological practices.
A Rohingya himself, Muhammad Noor has established several Rohingya institutions and trained several highly-regarded members of the Rohingya community worldwide. His most notable contributions include the digitization and Unicode of First Rohingya Alphabet, serving as the chairman of Rohingya Football Club, authoring “ Born to Struggle: The Child of Rohingya Refugees and His Inspiring Journey” and working on several assignments with the UN High Commission for Refugees, the Red Cross, International Organization for Migration, International Network of Human Rights. Noor is the Co-Founder of Rohingya Vision (RVISION), the world’s first Rohingya Satellite television channel.
Nicolás Pace (https://www.apc.org/en/users/nicopace) is the technology and innovation co-coordinator within the LOCNET initiative, which supports organizations and communities in exploring the innovative approaches to the use of technology in the context of community networks in the global south. Nicolás has traveled to more than 15 countries to build bridges between community networks and to understand the diversity and complexity of the field.
Qianqian (Q) Ye is a Chinese artist, creative technologist, and educator based in Los Angeles. Trained as an architect, she creates digital, physical, and social spaces exploring issues around gender, immigration, power, and technology. Her most recent collaborative project, The Future of Memory, was a recipient of the Mozilla Creative Media Award. At the Processing Foundation, Qianqian is the Lead of p5.js, an open-source art and education platform that prioritizes access and diversity in learning to code, with over 1.5 million users. She currently teaches creative coding as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at USC Media Arts + Practice and 3D Arts at Parsons School of Design. For 2022-2023, Qianqian is a NYU ITP/IMA Project fellow and Civic Media Fellow at USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.
Risper A Rose works with the low cost community wireless network, TunapandaNET (https://tunapanda.org/) in Nairobi, Kenya, as a gender and community engagement expert. She is involved in digital outreach, understanding women and their usage of connectivity, amplifying meaningful usage and utilization of connectivity, and conducting impact assessment studies of connectivity in the community. She has handled tech-centered advisories and training on digital rights, digital inclusion, digital advocacy, and digital protection and privacy. Her main focus is on gender justice, community capacity development, community research using human-centered design, stakeholder engagement, and public participation in policymaking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Development (with Honors) Degree from Kenyatta University.
Saqib Sheikh‘s work centers on advocacy, social inclusion, and educational access for refugees and stateless people. He serves as Project Director for the Rohingya Project, a grassroots initiative for the empowerment of the Rohingya diaspora using blockchain technology. He is also a co-founder and advisor for the Refugee Coalition of Malaysia (RCOM) where he focuses on creating formal pathways for refugee placement in higher education institutes in Malaysia. A journalist by training, Saqib received his Masters in Communication from Purdue University, and is currently a PhD researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore, researching the use of technology for legitimization of stateless communities.
Sheley Gomes is a POC, queer feminist, researcher and activist for digital and human rights, as well as the right to communication, being part of non-profit organisations both in Brazil and Europe. Her research goes from contexts such as Latin America, western-European, and Sub-saharan African countries, investigating the role of media, the ownership, and freedom of expression in those different scenarios. Her focus goes especially to new media technologies and its impacts for marginalised communities.
Stacco Troncoso (https://stacco.works/) teaches and writes on the Commons, P2P politics and economics, open culture, post-growth futures, Platform and Open Cooperativism, decentralised governance, blockchain, and more. He is the co-founder of DisCO.coop (https://disco.coop/), project lead for Commons Transition, and co-founder of the P2P translation collective Guerrilla Translation. His work in communicating commons culture extends to public speaking and relationship-building with prefigurative communities, policymakers, and potential commoners.
Subhashish Panigrahi (https://psubhashish.com) is interested in research and building resources in the intersection of community, tech, and media. A public interest archivist, non-fiction filmmaker, and civil society leader, he has served and catalyzed many open knowledge/internet communities through his work at Wikimedia, Mozilla, Internet Society and the Internet Society. He currently serves as the director of the Law for All Initiative at Ashoka. A National Geographic Explorer, he has made ten critically acclaimed documentaries, focusing on endangered languages, digital rights, and the open internet movement in South Asia. He founded OpenSpeaks and co-founded O Foundation in 2017, both building openly-licensed media and resources for low- and medium-resourced languages through participatory means.
TB Dinesh is a community media activist with a background in Computer Science. The recent focus of their work is on infrastructure for encouraging people from marginalised communities to document their ways of life to help tell their stories. This involves helping create a Community Owned Wifimesh (COWMesh) with Libre Routers, Bamboo towers, ASPi client kiosks and Internet independent services with Janastu (janastu.org). Services include audio-video fragment-annotating tools, voice communication and negotiation of traffic vouchers. Set in a remote rural hilly forest region, near Bangalore, India, their Lab is open for visitors and residents who wish to creatively engage in creating a replicable model of self-determined future Community Networks. Anthillhacks (anthillhacks.in) is their end of year annual event where everyone is invited to live with their community.
Tommi Marmo is self-described “enthusiastic and curious 22 years old weirdo from Italy.” He is the co-founder of Scambi Festival (https://scambi.org), a cultural event focused on interactive workshops which is organized exclusively by a staff of volunteers under 25 years old coming from all over Europe. He just graduated in Philosophy, International Studies, and Economics at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Tommi is a dreamer and an activist concerning the need of a deeper sociological and philosophical analysis of the Internet, at its essential core. In 2020, he deleted all of his mainstream social media accounts and created https://tommi.space, which he considers the virtual representation of his mind. He is the admin of Pan (https://pan.rent), a Fediverse node.
Victor von Sydow is a member of Coolab (https://www.coolab.org), a co-operative lab that builds community telecommunication projects promoting autonomous infrastructures through technical training and community activation. He is interested in research and strategy development focused on systemic and infrastructural conditions that shape socio-economic, political, and institutional realities. To this extent, he develops and operationalises experimental approaches to organisational design, policy, finance and rights.
Xin Xin is an artist currently making socially-engaged software that explores the possibilities of reshaping language and power relations. Through mediating, subverting, and innovating modes of social interaction in the digital space, Xin invites participants to relate to one another and experience togetherness in new and unfamiliar ways. As an artist, their work has been exhibited internationally at Ars Electronica, Eyebeam, DIS, Kunstverein Wolfsburg, and the Gene Siskel Film Center. They were an Eyebeam Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future Fellow and a Sundance Art of Practice Fellow. As an organizer, Xin co-founded voidLab, a LA-based intersectional feminist collective dedicated to women, trans, and queer folks. They were the Director for Processing Community Day 2019 and they serve on the Processing Foundation Board.
While most of the audience responded by discussing web monetization or opined about lack of privacy, many still believe in the power of the internet for better sharing. As we build a new web, most would like for it to be driven by a different set of values, particularly community, collaboration, freedom, sovereignty, democracy, and trust.
Beginning with Mai Ishikawa Sutton’s work on the five principles of the DWeb and ending with a demo of the Mapeo project, this session brought in designers, coders, policy professors, and ethicists building a new “web for the people” that would embody the above values, and much more.
In 2016 at a campout in California, Sutton and a community of technology enthusiasts came together to rethink the values embedded in the technology of the web we use and the web we could build. While technology was a major factor in the resulting work, ethical considerations and standing for better technology were just as crucial. They created a document that reflected the interests and values of their community with five principles:
Technology for Human Agency
The group hopes to revisit some of these principles this summer at DWeb Camp 2022 to better define the “web that we want.” In the Q&A with Hanamura, Sutton clarified the ways in which the DWeb addresses crucial aspects of power, control, and capital. Rather than staying static or solely basing itself in technological innovation, the DWeb community is a way to ensure that benefits “flow back into the community.”
Author and Professor Nathan Schneider followed Sutton to discuss how human rights can be encoded into the blockchain. Schneider’s presentation, “Policy Proposals for Less Dystopian Crypto Protocols” began with a recognition of the issues within blockchain, stating that he wishes to explore how crypto can be “up there with libraries” in terms of building “true civic institutions.” Faced with the dystopia of the current web and recognizing that it could perpetuate the same harms, crypto could present a new form of economic democracy and pluriverses for all. For Schneider, “if code is law,” there are a number of policy proposals that can support a better crypto future. These include building sufficiently decentralized systems, transparent governance, labor over capital, taxation for public goods, reparations, provable zero-carbon, and human rights fail-safes. For his community, this is not about “catching up” to institutions as we know them, but instead doing the work to build a more humane world.
Following Schneider, Luandro Vieira of Digital Democracy demoed his project, Mapeo, a decentralized app built with and for communities. Mapeo is a mobile application that provides free and accessible geospatial technology that is translatable, designed for community, private, and available offline. Originally built for earth defenders, or marginalized people at the front lines of defending their land around the world, Mapeo is highly customizable and used mainly by indigenous people in 16 countries. It is used to map and monitor threats from invasions, mining, logging, and oil activities. Mapeo’s power was demonstrated through the #WaoraniResistance, which protected 1/2 million acres in the Amazon and jeopardized a 7 million acre oil auction.
Through the lens of these three activists and experts, the promise of the DWeb was clear. A new, highly democratic web is possible, but it will take all of us to build it.
How do we ensure that the decentralized web fulfills its potential to create a better web for all? That the technologies, organizations, and approaches that gain traction and succeed (by any measure) uphold the security, privacy, and self-determination of everyone, especially those of marginalized populations who have the most to gain?
The first step is to recognize that there are many people around the world who are already doing this work. They’re not only imagining and theorizing about a better web, but are actually creating and employing digital tools to uplift communities facing systemic inequities. They bring about justice and enable individual and collective agency, both through network technologies and by also creating and maintaining communities of care.
As the Decentralized Web (DWeb) San Francisco team, we help grow networks of solidarity among these individuals and organizations by creating opportunities for them to build relationships with each other and the DWeb community. Our Fellows from DWeb Camp 2019 strongly influenced our thinking as we defined a set of shared Principles and continued to hold virtual and in-person convenings in the three years since.
As the Director of this year’s Fellowship program, one of my strongest hopes is that the DWeb Fellows are able to build lasting, fruitful relationships with each other and other DWeb Campers. My other hope is that the Fellows’ projects and approaches continue to shape the DWeb community overall – to connect and empower the most under-resourced, and ensure that the decentralized web we’re building truly addresses the needs of all.
The 2022 DWeb Fellowship program was made possible with generous support from the Ford Foundation, Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web, Mysterium Network, donations through the Gitcoin grant challenge, and others.
Much has changed since 2016, when the Internet Archive held the first Decentralized Web Summit. Scrappy teams with lean funding have grown into formidable organizations with budgets in the millions. Niche technologies and far-fetched debates from a few years ago have dominated headlines and are shaping entire economies.
Each of the DWeb events reflected a moment in a quickly shifting landscape of protocols, institutions, and ideologies. In the three years since DWeb Camp in 2019, some major trends have transformed people’s thinking. The explosion of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the mainstream. The renaissance of projects centered on shared ownership and governance of assets. The reckoning with the power and potential of decentralized technologies: to either further entrench existing social inequities and exacerbate ecological harm, or radically reconstruct the ways in which individuals and communities can meaningfully address these and other crises of our time.
As organizers of this community, the defining change was the development of the DWeb Principles. The Principles help us to define what we stand for, instead of merely what we stand against. They emerged out of discussions and alignment between many members of the DWeb community, and are just one part of a growing awareness of the ethics and beneficiaries of decentralized digital ecosystems.
DWeb Camp 2022 will be held from August 24-28 at Camp Navarro, California. As the programming takes shape, the themes, spaces, and participants of this year’s event clearly reflect where we are in this still nascent movement. At DWeb Camp, we’ll be hacking and live testing cutting edge decentralized protocols, platforms, and hardware. We’ll tackle thorny topics about who these tools serve and how to govern and steward them sustainably. We’ll confront questions about power, marginalization, community, identity, ecology, and human rights.
With all the DWeb events, we aim to create spaces for people to share their ideas, projects, and research among warm, supportive peers who believe in a plurality of approaches and solutions to build a decentralized values-driven web. By meeting in-person, outdoors among towering redwood trees, DWeb Camp is about manifesting that ethos as we invite all those participating to bring their full selves. We’re designing this event to be a place for us to be curious and humble. Not to come with all the answers but to be open to having your mind and heart changed.
Below are some of the Spaces, or thematic sessions, that will be held throughout the five-day event. In addition to the Spaces described below, we will build a local Mesh Network across the campground for participants to share locally-hosted materials, test hardware, and experience a community network first-hand.
Hackers Hall – Tech projects, Science Fair, and User testing
Healing Waters in Cambium Pavillion – Conversations, music, tea, and storytelling
People-2-People Tent – Exploration of emergent wisdom through play
Open Source Library – Storytelling, books and games
Redwood Parliament Pavillion – Imagine and co-inspire a governance layer for the DWeb
Filecoin Foundation Forest Hang Out – Connect with new friends while lying in hammocks
Redwood Cathedral – Wellness, meditation, and conversation
Universal Access Amphitheater – Talks and breakout discussions
Be Water Waystation – Art and hands-on programs for children
Thunder Salon – Lightning talks
We’re lucky to have an incredible group of people stewarding the programming in each Space, ensuring that the sessions invite collective practice in discussion, imagination, and play. Continue reading below for more detailed descriptions of some of the Spaces, written by the stewards. An online schedule of all the sessions in each Space will become available the week of the event.
The Hacker’s Hall is the place for people of technical and non-technical backgrounds to meet each other at all hours of the day and night. We will have Wi-Fi, couches, whiteboards, and tables. It will be the Mesh Network Hub of the Camp. Come to the Science Fair on Thursday, where everyone can try interactive demos of existing decentralization projects and meet the people who are building them. Then on Friday, come to “Dogfooding Decentralization,” a User Testing Lab for DWeb project. Each team will have office hours where you can come deep dive with them.
Come build on and improve projects, test software, be a user tester, meet developers and designers, ask questions, and learn new things about the decentralization all around us!
Healing Waters in Cambium Pavilion
Oceans and creeks, rivers and lakes, from the clouds in the sky to the pipes in our homes, water connects us all. This is the focus of Healing Waters at DWeb camp, an Indigenous-led, multi-modal celebration of this precious substance that supports all life on Earth. By the meeting place of the Navarro River and the Pacific Ocean, Healing Waters invites DWeb campers to explore their relationship to water and what it means to be fluid, literally and metaphorically. Our programming navigates the currents leading from Indigenous technologies and storytelling to hyper-modern science and cartography, with ports of call in art, music, policy, poetry, history, and mythology.
A conversation led by Haudenosaunee artists Asha Veeraswamy and Amelia Winger-Bearskin about the parallels between open-source technology, decentralization, and the consensus-building practices that led to the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy, and deeply influenced the U.S. Constitution
Data visualization workshop using real water data from the US Geological Survey led by data manager/designer Martha Bearskin
Morning communal singing rituals led by artist and opera singer Amelia Winger-Bearskin
Musical performances and night raves in the majestic redwood forest
Sound baths (meditative experiences in which the audience is “bathed” in immersive spatialized audio)
Martial arts instruction, guiding students to access the deep aquifer of intuition that flows just below the conscious mind
Let’s root and spread our hyphae through the ground: tree-to-tree, person-to-person, peer-to-peer, and node-to-node.
Let’s relieve networks of the extractive transactional usage and explore in earnest what it’s like to design, form, and experience networks the way fungi do. The way the complex systems of our bodies do. The way humans do when we weave our relational webs. Our webs have connections, overlapping points, tensions, resistances, and anchors.
Let’s weave, let’s twine, let’s interwingle. Let’s use our technologies of language, of frames, of digital media to better see and play with these patterns of relating in real time, in real life, with each other.
Those working on peer-to-peer (P2P) projects are invited to do a Kindergarten Lightning Talk to share their technologies using crayons and paper and pipe cleaners. We’ll have interactive sessions from different P2P projects like Scuttlebutt, Holochain, and Fluence. There will be a full on battle session (playful, of course) between blockchain folks and fully distributed folks over what the “D” in DWeb stands for. Think arts and crafts and workshops meet P2P technology!
Filecoin Foundation Forest Hang Out
Our Venue Sponsor, Filecoin Foundation, invites you to hang out in the trees and meet Foundation leaders. This is the place to come to chill, meet new friends, and enjoy late night pizza cooked to order in a wood-fired oven on Wednesday and a Silent Disco on Friday.
Open Source Library
Looking for a place of quiet contemplation? Come to the Open Source Library to peruse some favorite books of your fellow campers. We’ll ask each person to bring a few meaningful books to give away. Authors’ talks and storytelling, game nights and children’s films will all take place in the Library.
Redwood Parliament Pavilion
Imagine an Internet where democracy is at least as available as autocracy.
The decentralized Internet is a complex network of technical and social interdependencies; a mix of protocols and the communities that thrive in and across the network. However, the Internet as it currently exists has been flattened and consolidated to render these socio-technical complexities into top-down, autocratic defaults for social organization. And yet, these interdependencies continue to grow, challenging and proving the current form of the Internet socially unsustainable; calling us instead to develop more collective means and intuitions for how we govern our commons.
Redwood Parliament is a collection of events at DWeb Camp that will address these interdependencies in all of their complexity and practice alternatives to autocracy.
The track will bring together practitioners, researchers, artists, builders, and dreamers to actively imagine and co-inspire a governance layer for the decentralized Internet. Over four days, campers will have the opportunity to participate in a collection of distributed activities, workshops, and discussions designed to give us the conceptual and experiential tools and frameworks that we can take with us to help us do this work.
Together, we will:
Explore ways of flexibly composing and experimenting with different decision making structures through workshops and hands on engagement with new digital-native tools;
Immerse ourselves in a black-box modular governance Live Action Role Play (LARP);
Collectively develop a map of governance practices and protocols existing across the decentralized Internet;
Read, annotate, and be guided through various constitutions forming around the decentralized Internet;
Design ecological patterns, protocols, and mechanisms, guided by the ethos of the DWeb, to shape and inform the inter-relationship between our physical and economic environments; and
Engage in speculative writing and world building exercises focused on imagining approaches to governance past, present, and future;
These activities and happenings will complement and inform a series of meta-level discussions around research that the organizers of the Redwood Parliament have been conducting on this topic of a governance layer for the decentralized Internet.
Redwood Parliament is a joint collaboration between Metagov, the Internet Archive, andRadicalxChange, with support from the Unfinished Network and the National Science Foundation.
In the fifth session of “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web” – a joint series of events with Internet Archive, METRO Library Council, and Library Futures – “Decentralized Apps, the Metaverse, and the ‘Next Big Thing,’” Internet Archive Director of Partnerships Wendy Hanamura took a deep dive into the metaverse and NFTs through an exploration of virtual worlds with pioneering metaverse developer Jin.
In this engaging session, Hanamura and Jin explored the technologies that would transform the future and the world as we know it within Web 3.0: the immersive spaces and built communities of the metaverse. As indicated by participants, to some, NFT and metaverse means “cyberspace on steroids,” or “Second Life,” while for others it holds a more negative connotation. From the “read-only” Web 1.0 to the forthcoming “read-write-trust verifiable” future of Web 3.0, the evolution of the web is leading to an enhancement of reality to create new and augmented realities.
An NFT, or an entry on a blockchain, can be anything from a document to even a virtual representation of a physical space like the Internet Archive. Jin, for example, is able to create a complete virtual desktop where their entire life and memory lives in 3D, and where they conducted the virtual reality interview with Hanamura. From hacker spaces to raves to the virtual representation of the Internet Archive they built as a central space to conduct their work, Jin’s life is mediated and defined through their virtual world building.
What makes Jin’s world unique is their commitment to building with other people in the open source community in an “interesting, collaborative, co-creation.”
Within these worlds, one of the key provisions is interoperability: the ability to carry these worlds between each other. For Jin, this is still a work in progress, with new modes of interoperability still being built. In addition, privacy is a major concern – Web 3.0 provides a new form of privacy through avatars and other obscuring technology, but Jin cautions that due diligence is still warranted, just like in the real world.
The conversation ended with a discussion of the democratizing aspects of NFT creation and independent artists. As an artist, Jin’s first NFT earned him more money than he ever had previously in his career. One of the most exciting aspects of this kind of creation is the way it removes the middle person from the art market: rather than creating for museums or other art markets, Jin is able to reach their audience directly.
Jin ended the session on a positive note: “In virtual reality, you have a lot more bandwidth for empathy. There’s a lot of nuance that is lost in text-based communication platforms. It’s more asynchronous. The sense of presence, of being there with other people, you experience a lot of genuine and good connections… there’s a lot of genuine appreciation of art. That gives me hope.”
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.
Select how much you want to donate. (For example: .003 ETH = about $5.00 US)
Do you want to also add some money to the matching pool? Be sure to set an amount in that field as well.
Hit the “I’m Ready to Checkout” button.
In the drop down menu, pick Standard Checkout, Polygon, or zkSync.
Connect and log in to your crypto wallet to pay.
BONUS: You can verify your identity by creating a Gitcoin Passport via Ceramic to maximize the matching funds (up to 150%).
The more people who give, the greater the percentage of the matching pool we receive.
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.
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.”
“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?