Interoperability: Fix the internet, not the tech companies

Everyone in the tech world claims to love interoperability—the technical ability to plug one product or service into another product or service—but interoperability covers a lot of territory, and depending on what's meant by interoperability, it can do a lot, a little, or nothing at all to protect users, innovation and fairness.

Let's start with a taxonomy of interoperability: Read the rest

Podcast number 300: "Adversarial Interoperability: Reviving an Elegant Weapon From a More Civilized Age to Slay Today's Monopolies"

I just published the 300th installment of my podcast, which has been going since 2006 (!); I present a reading of my EFF Deeplinks essay Adversarial Interoperability: Reviving an Elegant Weapon From a More Civilized Age to Slay Today's Monopolies, where I introduce the idea of "Adversarial Interoperability," which allows users and toolsmiths to push back against monopolists. Read the rest

Gmail's automated spam-filtering is making it much harder to run an independent mail-server

People who run their own mail servers are increasingly finding that the mail they send to Gmail users is being rejected, because the company's anti-spam algorithm treats small, independently managed mail-servers as high-risk mail sources. Read the rest

The Intercept's top security expert reviews Helm, a standalone home email server that keeps your comms out of Big Tech's data-centers

Last October, a startup called Helm announced a $500, plug-and-play home email server that was designed to be a secure, decentralized, privacy-oriented alternative to using one of Big Tech's email systems like Gmail, an option that was potentially even more robust than using email from a privacy-oriented provider like Riseup or Protonmail because your metadata would not be stored anywhere except in your home. Read the rest

Mozilla's Internet Health Report: discriminatory AI, surveilling smart cities, ad-tech

Every year, the Mozilla Foundation releases a massive "Internet Health Report" summarizing the ways in which the internet is being used to both support and subvert human thriving; though these reports cover a wide range of topics, every year the foundation chooses a small number of themes to focus on. This year, they are Let's Ask More of AI; The Power of Cities and Rethinking Digital Ads. Read the rest

Rebooting UUCP to redecentralize the net

UUCP (Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol) is a venerable, non-hierarchical networking protocol that was used as transport for early email and Usenet message boards; its intrinsic decentralization and its cooperative nature (UUCP hosts store and forward messages for one another) make it a kind of symbol of the early, decentralized robustness that characterized the early net and inspired so much optimism about a fundamentally distributed arrangement of peers rising up to replace the top-down phone companies and other centralized systems. Read the rest

Electrification 2.0: Rural broadband co-ops are filling the void left by indifferent monopolists

Writing in Wired, frequent Boing Boing contributor Clive Thompson praises the rise of rural broadband co-operatives that are springing up to provide internet access to their far-flung, widespread communities, comparing them to the rural electrification co-ops that sprang up to provide power to farmers neglected by the monopolistic Edison trusts. Read the rest

Helm: A home network email server appliance to redecentralize the web

Helm is a startup making a $500 home gadget that replaces Gmail and Google Calendar, letting you control your own email and coordination; its founders have deep information security backgrounds, and plan to make money by charging an annual $100 management fee. Read the rest

Remembering the wild days of IRC on its 30th birthday

Jon Cog writes, "On the 30th anniversary of IRC, David Cassel pulls together his favorite memories from the 1990s, 'when there were all kinds of fun things to do.' It was an unexplored world of freedom and fun, where even Monty Python's fish-slapping dance got a shout-out in a popular IRC client -- prompting one reporter to describe IRC as 'the kind of place that slaps you around a bit with a large trout.' But the article describes the humble origins of IRC (as a Swedish college student's summer project), as well as the many weird and wonderful moments that followed -- including an IRC-themed music video from Sweden in 2006. And best of all, IRC is still popular among open source developers today. Read the rest

My closing keynote from the second Decentralized Web Summit

Two years ago, I delivered the closing keynote at the Internet Archive's inaugural Decentralized Web event; last week, we had the second of these, and once again, I gave the closing keynote, entitled Big Tech's problem is Big, not Tech. Here's the abstract: Read the rest

Facebook Domination vs. Self-Determination

We're months removed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the public outrage of #DeleteFacebook, and new information continues to surface about Facebook's sloppy handling of data and hunger for surveillance. Last month, we learned about an Orwellian patent that might allow Facebook to track you via mobile microphone. Though some have cast doubt on the reports, mobile spyware like the now-infamous Alphonso do track mobile devices via sound emitted by TVs.

Longread: what will it take to re-decentralize the web?

In 2016, the Internet Archive convened a decentralized web summit to discuss ways to make the web less centralized and thus less vulnerable to censorship, corporate abuse and "shadow regulation" (I gave one of the keynotes). Read the rest

As social media centralized, blogging's core infrastructure has withered

When "social media" meant "blogs," there were many tools, services and protocols that comprised an infrastructure for federated, open, loosely joined interaction: the rise of the social giants has killed off much of this infrastructure, all but erasing it from our memories. Read the rest

How we will keep the Decentralized Web decentralized: my talk from the Decentralized Web Summit

At yesterday's Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit, the afternoon was given over to questions of security and policy. Read the rest

Internet greybeards and upstarts gather to redecentralize the Internet

This week, the Internet Archive is hosting a three-day event (which finishes today) called The Decentralized Web Summit, whose goal is to figure out how to build a new Internet that is "locked open," an idea that emerged from Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle's 2015 series of talks and articles about how technologists can build networks and protocols that are resistant to attempt to capture, monopolize and control them. Read the rest

How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate

Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.

Robots are taking your job and mine: deal with it

Two striking articles on the roboticization of the workforce: first is Kevin Kelly in Wired, with "Better Than Human", an optimistic and practical-minded look at the way that robots change the jobs landscape, with some advice on how to survive the automation of your gig: Read the rest

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