New rules, decentralised really means decentralised…

I recently introduced a few friends to Mastodon and tried to explain why I think its a step forward. Others have hinted at this all too.

There are many issues they face and some are highlighted in a blog post I wrote a while ago when talking about mastodon. But recently I had a interesting discussion about a part of the decentralised web I’ve not had for a while. Lack of censorship of dangerous & in some places illegal content.

This might seem as quite a shock to a lot people use to the moderation/gatekeeping of centralised platforms, especially while browsing through the list of mastodon servers to join.

Generally a lot of the people in the Dweb (decentralised web) world understand the advantages and disadvantages of decentralised based systems including this. But it can come as a shock to others who have rarely come across anything like this. I would say this is like the red light district in Amsterdam. Its there if you want it, its better/safer for the those involved and its easier for law enforcement to do their job. Consider this happens regardless is important to note.

Of course it totally depends on the media, content, etc… Theres a sliding scale from stuff which is totally illegal to things which are more questionable depending on your culture, faith, etc. Mastdon has ways to not just filter but also block and ban things. The join an instance is ideal because it sets the tone and makes explicit the rules of whats tolerated and whats not. This gives transparency to the users and should stop things like the Facebook blocking breastfeeding policy.

I do understand its off putting to new Dweb users but like the Cloudflare daily stormer censorship or the British porn block, theres a serious lesson to be learned. Lets not kid ourselves, simply hiding it or pushing it underground will ultimately make things worst for everyone. Law enforcement works much better when there’s cultural and societal norm against the something. This is why the war on drugs has been and always will be a unwinnable war.

Updated 18th Feb

Mozilla’s IRL podcast has a episode which is along the same lines and worth listening to.

Some people believe that decentralization is the inevitable future of the web. They believe that internet users will start to demand more privacy and authenticity of information online and that they’ll look to decentralized platforms to get those things. But would decentralization be as utopian as advocates say it could be?

If you have no control over your identity you are but a slave?

How self sovereign identity could work

Its twice I heard something similar to this now.

First time was from Gregor Žavcer at MyData 2018 in Helsinki. I remember when he started saying if you have no control over your identity you are but a slave (power-phased of course). There was a bit of awe from the audience, including myself. Now to be fair he justified everything he said but I didn’t make note of the references he made, as he was moving quite quickly. I did note down something about no autonomy is data without self.

Then today at the BBC Blueroom AI Society & the Media event, I heard Konstantinos Karachalios say something very similar. To be fair I was unsure of the whole analogy when I first heard it but there seems to be some solid grounding for this all.

This is why the very solution of a self sovereign identity (SSI) as proposed by Kaliya Young and others during Mydata speaks volume to us all deep down. The videos, notes from that session are not up yet but I gather it was all recorded and will be up soon. However I found her slides from when she talked at the decentralized web summit.

This looks incredible as we shift closer to the Dweb (I’m thinking there was web 1.0, then web 2.0 and now Dweb, as web 3.0/semantic web didn’t quite take root). There are many questions including service/application support and the difficulty of getting one. This certainly where I agree with Aral about the design of this all, the advantages could be so great but if it takes extremely good technical knowledge to get one, then its going to be stuck on the ground for a long time, regardless of the critical advantages.

I was reminded of the sad tale of what happened to Open ID, really hoping this doesn’t go the same way.