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The Web We Lost, and The Web We Must Rebuild

by Peter Wang

This site is a reflection on how the web (and really, how the internet as a whole) has failed. This serves as background reading and context for my interest in the emerging initiatives around "decentralizing the Internet", or the "peer-to-peer web".

I'm writing this for a technically sophisticated reader. I'm also writing this for myself, to help organize my thoughts on this topic, and to provide an intellectual breadcrumb trail; that's why I provide a "Further Reading & Sources" at the end of each section. I don't expect anyone to read every link, every piece of background material, but I have tried my best to cull & curate so as to present only the best of what I've read so far.

If you are already convinced that the current Internet/web is broken, you can skip ahead to section 4, "The Root Problems", to see if my formulation of what's broken and what's at stake aligns with your thinking.


i. Introduction

I. The Web We Lost

  1. The Web In 2017 - Structural Failure At Every Level

    • A Beastiary of Obvious Failures
    • The Attention Economy, Servant of Growth Capitalism
    • From Connection to Consumption
    • The Chinese Model
    • An American Model
  2. The Web We Lost

  3. Centralized "Social Media" Is Harmful By Construction

  4. The Root Problems

II. The Web We Need

  1. Moral Philosphy for Digital Humanity

    • Why go so deep? Why talk about philosophy??
      • Human communications have undergone a phase transition.
      • Peak words; semantic density of the human cognitive field is at breakdown voltage
      • Four-dimensionality: Digital Humans are all ships of Theseus
      • Sensemaking is not optional (draft)
    • Social Physics
      • Identity, Names, and the Social Field
      • Privacy and Trust
      • Self-hood and agency
  2. The Humane Network

    • The Fundamental Question - What is the right technological infrastructure that supplements, extends, and scales human networks, to achieve greater engagement, deeper trust, and emerges collective intelligence?
    • Computer Networks vs. Social Networks
    • The role of decentralized communication technology in bringing about a new, sustainable human ecology
    • The Internet Is Too Much
    • Anomie (in Clipped Articles Civ 2.0)
  3. What Could Come Next

    • What are current stop-gap tech approaches, and why are they not enough?
    • 4 Layers of Fail
    • Challenges for any distributed data application system
  4. What Should Come Next: A Decentralized Information System

    • Motivating questions (a la Bitcoin's "money no one can stop me from spending")
    • Orthogonalizing transport from representation from identity
    • Computational Trust: bootstrapping from local trust to global reputation; web of trust; a global decentralized credit system
  5. Beaker and Dat

  6. Tech overview/survey, 2018: What About _____?

    • ZeroNet / Zero platform
    • SAFE network
    • Fermat
    • Urbit
    • Ethereum (and ether-related, e.g. and Akasha
    • Blockstack
    • DAOStack / Backfeed
    • Mastodon
    • Matrix
    • IPFS
    • I2P
    • Consensys
    • cjdns
    • Solid
    • Syncthing
    • WebTorrent
    • StrongLink
    • Twister
    • Indie
    • Cicada
    • RetroShare
    • Self-sovereign identity
    • Better hypertext/knowledge systems:
      • Xanadu

III. Civilization 2.0

  • A Brief History of Modern Economics

    • Labor and resource scarcity
    • Fifty years of "As if" growth in a fiat currency bubble
    • The system of the world: Transactional money, Wealth, Risk, and Temporal Novation
    • Centralization of credit and "trust bondage"
  • Collective Intelligence

IV. Commentaries

All contents within this site are copyright 2017 by Peter Wang, and licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-SA.


The Web We Lost, and What Comes Next



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