Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech

from the my-new-article dept

For many years now, I've talked about why so many of the problems that face the current internet could be understood by looking at how we moved from an internet dominated by open protocols to one dominated by central platforms -- and I continue to note that many of those problems could be solved by moving back to open protocols (with some modern additions). I first raised this idea nearly five years ago, when people were first debating how internet platforms should moderate toxic speech. It came up again last summer in the context of the various fights over "deplatforming" certain individuals. I mentioned it, yet again, earlier this year in noting that this would be the most effective way to truly create competition and "break up" the big internet platforms.

I've hinted that I was working on a longer paper about this, and I'm happy to note that the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has now published that essay, entitled: Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech. It's a part of a new essay series the Institute has just published, called Free Speech Futures, in which various scholars and experts "reimagine" the 1st Amendment.

The article is long, but I wanted to be fairly thorough in explaining what I'm talking about -- and highlighting what might go wrong as well. As I note early on:

This article proposes an entirely different approach—one that might seem counterintuitive but might actually provide for a workable plan that enables more free speech, while minimizing the impact of trolling, hateful speech, and large-scale disinformation efforts. As a bonus, it also might help the users of these platforms regain control of their privacy. And to top it all off, it could even provide an entirely new revenue stream for the platforms.

That approach: build protocols, not platforms.

I don't know that this is the right solution. I don't know that it will work. But I do think it makes a lot more sense than almost every other proposed idea right now, most of which seem likely to simply lock in today's dominant players under a heavily regulated regime that likely stifles many potentially more innovative services, while similarly locking in the idea that we need to let the big internet companies "protect" our privacy. My idea would actually take the various internet providers out of the privacy protection business altogether, and move us to a world where the ends of the network (the users) have much more power and control, protected by encryption and better tools for managing our own privacy. Indeed, it even suggests possibilities for business models that don't rely on "surveillance" to work.

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 by this paper to come up with their own ideas for a better, more proactive approach to a future internet.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, antitrust, free speech, platforms, protocols, technology
Companies: facebook, google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Egbert McCackle, 28 Aug 2019 @ 9:58am

    10 years ago shortly after fell into here, I COMPLAINED TO YOU!

    YOU DID AND HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT LET YOUR FANBOYS ADD TO THE CESSPIT.

    when people were first debating how internet platforms should moderate toxic speech

    Phooey on you, Masnick!

    CLEAN UP RIGHT HERE BEFORE EVEN PRETEND CAN ADVISE OTHERS, you Masnick.

    ALL that you had to do then was set a tone. -- While claiming offered solutions by professionals, actually you had Timothy Geigner as "comment enforcer", which I interpret and conclude from observation that you intended, perhaps paid, to be so nasty as to drive off all dissent.

    And now you're utterly stubborn, so Techdirt looks irrettreviable. YOUR fault.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Egbert McCackle, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:02am

    "I don't know that this is the right solution." -- It's NOT.

    Clamp down and regulat "social media" until they get a handle on problem by doing what should have been all along. -- I don't care about their profits, but to YOU profits are the ONLY consideration, therefore your "solutions" are and will be inherently WRONG.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:03am

    build protocols, not platforms

    To wit: Mastodon. It ain’t perfect, and it can be coöpted by malicious people (e.g., Gab switching to the Masto protocol), but it’s better than Twitter in both community and functionality (thank you, blessed Content Warning feature).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:15am

      Re:

      To wit: Mastodon

      To me, Mastodon is only halfway there. It's more about federation than open protocols. It has some, but not all, of the features I'm discussing here. I find things like Scuttlebutt and some other projects a bit more interesting than Mastodon these days.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:18am

        Fair enough. 👍

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ladyattis (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        What's your take on Matrix.org? I think it's got good bones but it needs more work (obviously, since it's still in development).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 29 Aug 2019 @ 3:53am

        Scuttlebutt/ Manyverse

        Mike, am I able to follow you on Scuttlebutt/Manyverse?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        keithzg (profile), 3 Sep 2019 @ 5:31pm

        Re: Re: Mastodon / The Fediverse

        I think there's a degree to which Mastodon, and the other interoperable ActivityPub-based software that makes up The Fediverse, is about as decentralized as is practical currently (ex. people expect instant access from such services, which isn't really possible if things are fully decentralized, particularly considering many people live on their phones these days and that's not really going to be a node on a network of the desired caliber). And there's moves to flesh out the protocol to give individual users more control and portability, particularly on the Pleroma side (the Mastodon folks don't seem quite as interested, perhaps because they tend to run larger instances), so with time it might grow more into what you're looking for.

        It's beneficial for a service/approach/etc to have a fully-functional implementation that people can use already in the here and now, which is I think a big reason why The Fediverse has been succeeding so far where many more idealistic and more decentralized (but otherwise very similar) attempts have failed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Egbert McCackle, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:08am

    "what's coming next" is Chinese-model "social credit scores",

    that will be the actual instantion of "unpersoning". IF allowed, then opposition not only won't have a "platform" to complain, but literally won't be able to travel or buy food.

    YOU as Corporatist continually protect and advocate for complete arbirtrary corporate power over the Rights of "natural" persons:

    "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content -free-speech.shtml

    C'mon, people. You know I'm right. When Masnick advocates corporate power, where does he say is any limit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:11am

      Please show me the law, statute, or “common law” court ruling that says a person has an absolute, unassailable right to use a privately-owned third party platform regardless of how the owners of said platform feel about that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:14am

      Re:

      YOU as Corporatist continually protect and advocate for complete arbirtrary corporate power over the Rights of "natural" persons:

      No, that's just acknowledging that the individuals in charge of corporations still have rights under the First Amendment. Theirs aren't over or under anyone else's. The First Amendment guarantees you the right to speak, it doesn't guarantee you the right to force other people to listen/host your speech.

      Also, if you had actually read his piece and what he's advocating for, you'd realize that what he proposes actually takes money and power AWAY from corporations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re:

        Also, if you had actually read his piece and what he's advocating for, you'd realize that what he proposes actually takes money and power AWAY from corporations.

        Why should he read it when he's already decided that he's going to troll every piece on Techdirt by pretending I'm some sort of bogeyman he has in his head?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Fair point.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          And why do all y'all keep feeding him? Why is it so hard for people like you, Stephen, and others to just click the flag, move on, and contribute to the comments of the article in some other meaningful way?

          The article above quotes part of the linked article where they talk about minimizing the impact of trolling. I know it's in a different context than the one I'm discussing it in right now, but still: Trolling harms communities and makes them unenjoyable for a lot of people. I think that the impact that trolls have on Techdirt could be minimized by re-emphasizing that trolls are not to be fed, but rather ignored, and countering their speech not by responding to them, but by contributing to the comments in a more significant manner.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Except that isn't always effective. Some trolls aren't out just to troll, they truly believe what they spout and those will not stop no matter whether you feed them or not.

            There are some valid reasons for responding to trolls of any kind:

            1. To provide counter-points and good information for less aware readers coming along after.
            2. To educate some "trolls" who truly believe what they spout but who also may be open to changing their minds if confronted with hard facts.
            3. It's cathartic to some and some just enjoy the debate.

            I think our current political/social climate is evidence enough that reason number 1 is in far shorter supply than it should be. The "ignore the trolls and they'll shut up and go away" method is partly what has contributed to the resurgence of white supremacy, Nazis, and a general inability to look objectively at the facts of situations.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              1. The "counter-points" could come about by offering up a worthwhile comment about the contents of the article itself rather than responding to the troll. The idea that you have to respond to the trolls in order to educate "less aware" readers, as if they'll be led astray by the oft-incoherent babble of the trolls, smacks a bit of paternalism.

              2. There seem to only be a handful of trolls on Techdirt. They haven't stopped or changed their minds despite years of being confronted with hard facts.

              3. I think that feeding the same trolls that have the same arguments day in and day out and finding it cathartic or enjoyable is an unhealthy fixation, both for one's self and for the Techdirt community as a whole. Comment threads get clogged up with endless responses to trollery. When I see comment thread on TD with over 50 comments, I usually hazard a guess that it's because a troll posted a comment and people decided to feed them, and most of the time I'm right. Also, it's not a "debate" if one side, the troll, isn't debating but rather seeking to get a rise out of people and waste their time.

              Regarding your last point about the social/political climate, I feel that going for the segue into larger systemic/societal issues to try and prove your point is disingenuous. We aren't talking about humanity at large; we're talking about a relatively small community that's situated around this website that's plagued by a few notorious trolls whose negative impacts on said community would be lessened, I feel, if people would stop responding to them and instead contributing to comment threads with something more significant than responding to Blue for the umpteenth time.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2019 @ 6:32am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                First, I think most comments do offer up something about the contents of the article itself, usually in the form of "yeah, he actually said that in that article; here's some additional clarification of why you are wrong".

                The idea that you have to respond to the trolls in order to educate "less aware" readers, as if they'll be led astray by the oft-incoherent babble of the trolls, smacks a bit of paternalism.

                I submit to you the human race, a group of people who are frequently led astray by the oft-incoherent babble of trolls, con men, and idiots. Don't believe me? Read a history book.

                Second, yes, true trolls are relatively small in number. However, there are also some who genuinely believe what they spout, and some who I've actually had change their mind after presented with facts. There are also some shills, who spout stuff that sounds plausible or reasonable, if you don't actually know anything about technology or the issues involved. Bad speech should always be countered with good speech.

                Third:

                I think that feeding the same trolls that have the same arguments day in and day out and finding it cathartic or enjoyable is an unhealthy fixation

                That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. But, it's really no different than telling the idiot in the corner of the room to shut up if he starts shouting nonsense.

                Comment threads get clogged up with endless responses to trollery.

                Some do. Most don't though. And I've seen a lot of good comments come out of those threads so it's really not 100% bad like you make it out to be.

                When I see comment thread on TD with over 50 comments, I usually hazard a guess that it's because a troll posted a comment and people decided to feed them, and most of the time I'm right.

                I have not seen that same thing. Some yes, but most of the threads I've seen that go over 50 have been due to legitimate discussion. There are some "hot button" topics that do attract more trolls than others but I would say it's a far cry from most.

                Also, it's not a "debate" if one side, the troll, isn't debating but rather seeking to get a rise out of people and waste their time.

                Nowhere did I say anyone responding to these people were "debating" them. Indeed, all three of my points don't really classify as debating, instead they are more pointing out exactly how they are wrong. That's what I'm getting at. If you just let people lie all the time and never counter it with the truth, eventually people will start believing the lie.

                Regarding your last point about the social/political climate, I feel that going for the segue into larger systemic/societal issues to try and prove your point is disingenuous.

                Why? That larger climate didn't emerge full blown one day, it grew slowly out of instances just like this where people just ignored the liar until one day they realized he'd amassed quite the following because nobody countered him with the truth.

                We aren't talking about humanity at large;

                And what I'm saying is the problems exist in both large and small groups of people. If you don't counter at the small level, you're going to be hard pressed to push back on a large group who all believe the same things.

                we're talking about a relatively small community that's situated around this website that's plagued by a few notorious trolls whose negative impacts on said community would be lessened, I feel, if people would stop responding to them

                And I feel differently. I can't get up and tell the entire nation that the president is directly flouting the law and point to facts as to why. I don't have that kind of reach. I can do that here. And that's the whole point. You counter bad/false speech where you can, not just where you have the largest audience.

                instead contributing to comment threads with something more significant than responding to Blue for the umpteenth time.

                This goes back to point 1 I made. The problem is Blue continues to respond. New readers have no background to understand that Blue is a troll. Therefore continued response insures against new readers taking him seriously. For long time readers, yeah, it seems redundant and ridiculous, but a new reader could take him seriously. Especially if they already lean conservative.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I appreciate a useful comment, whomever it's in response to, but could we at least quit with the "STFU blue" comments? Or hold off for an hour, because it'll likely be hidden by then and we don't need to have a bunch of out-of-context one-line insults.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            A suggestion to mitigate trolling:

            Automatically hide/collapse any comment made by an anonymous poster even if they fill in some bogus name. Then show/expand them if they get enough upvotes. Hide them again if they get enough downvotes/flags.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You do realize how many legitimate comments are posted by the exact criteria you describe, right? The comment section would practically be all hidden with only a few actual accounts not hidden. Including your comments. Especially since each comment would have to reach the threshold to be unhidden.

              I would be surprised if all the readers want to go through and flag to unhide the majority of comments. That sounds like a lot of work just to read the comment section.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 3:40pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                You do realize how many legitimate comments are posted by the exact criteria you describe, right?

                Yes, of course I do.

                Including your comments.

                Also yes.

                It would encourage legit posters to create accounts (which are still bloody anonymous) and use them if they would like to give their ramblings the best shot at being read. Trolls who do the same then become even easier to ignore with a little scripting or, at least, quick recognition and straight to the flag button.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Mike, I'm not so sure about the 'pretending' part.

          Considering his tenacity for disregarding truth, facts and logic so he can rant and rave at the TD writers I'm more inclined to believe that you as a bogeyman really takes up a pretty huge swath of real estate in his brain.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:28am

    What protocols?

    while I like the idea of returning to protocols instead of platforms, you don't actually propose, or even suggest, any new protocols.

    You compare NNTP to Reddit but don't say what should change in NNTP to fix the issues with it that lead to it's near demise and opened up the space to Reddit.

    You point out that most people don't have the patience or willingness to fiddle with all the options to set-up a service of their own but don't actually explain how to fix this in order to gain up-take by individuals.

    You offer some indication of how advertising could be used within these protocols while at the same time suggesting that the advertisers would receive less information about the individuals looking at their ads. Yet you ignore (or fail to mention) that the most lucrative ads (the ones Google and like make the most on) are the ones with the most detailed information about the individuals viewing them.

    If I, as an average individual, buy into this, I'm probably going to need to spend some money either paying for a service that gives me the basic core set of servers and data storage OR increasing my electricity bill and possibly ISP costs by running my services on my own hardware in my own home. If advertising is really an option, how do I get my service integrated into the advertising to get paid (or at least zero cost to me) to cover my costs?

    How do we deal with the higher bandwidth protocols like video, audio, and images?

    How am I going to handle (or cover) the bandwidth costs if my particular video goes viral?

    I would love to leave the big platforms and control my own content better but the trade-offs are tough. I would very much like some indication of how to resolve them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:47am

      Re:

      He wrote an essay, not an RFC. While I would be interested in the technical specifics as well, that's not the point of what he wrote.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:52am

      Re: What protocols?

      Fair criticisms! Let's dig in a little.

      while I like the idea of returning to protocols instead of platforms, you don't actually propose, or even suggest, any new protocols.

      This is not a technical paper, but rather an article talking about the concept. It was published in a series, where all of the other papers were written by lawyers, and the whole series was put together by a law professor working at a law school and a legal institute. The point was to get the idea across, not propose specific new protocols.

      You compare NNTP to Reddit but don't say what should change in NNTP to fix the issues with it that lead to it's near demise and opened up the space to Reddit.

      I disagree with this -- as I think I describe why NNTP and other older protocols failed, and suggest why that could change with a somewhat new approach to protocols. I don't suggest a direct NNTP replacement, but again, that was not the point of the paper. Instead, I talk about why a protocols approach today could deal with the reasons why older protocols failed.

      You point out that most people don't have the patience or willingness to fiddle with all the options to set-up a service of their own but don't actually explain how to fix this in order to gain up-take by individuals.

      I think I actually did discuss this a fair bit in the piece, noting that this opens up an opportunity for third parties to provide convenience here for end users -- in the same way that Google offers Gmail, even though you could set up your own email server if you wanted.

      You offer some indication of how advertising could be used within these protocols while at the same time suggesting that the advertisers would receive less information about the individuals looking at their ads. Yet you ignore (or fail to mention) that the most lucrative ads (the ones Google and like make the most on) are the ones with the most detailed information about the individuals viewing them.

      As you'll notice, I also suggest alternatives to advertising entirely as a business model, and point out that the data-focused advertising model is increasingly subject to increased costs, in terms of privacy regulations and government fines. (And while I agree that targeted ads these days are, by far, the most lucrative, I'm not convinced that will always remain true -- in part because I think it's a fool's gold, tricking gullible advertisers into thinking that such targeted ads are more effective. They are in some cases. But in many cases, they are not).

      If I, as an average individual, buy into this, I'm probably going to need to spend some money either paying for a service that gives me the basic core set of servers and data storage OR increasing my electricity bill and possibly ISP costs by running my services on my own hardware in my own home. If advertising is really an option, how do I get my service integrated into the advertising to get paid (or at least zero cost to me) to cover my costs?

      Again, part of the point is I think new services will spring up to manage this aspect for you.

      How do we deal with the higher bandwidth protocols like video, audio, and images?

      I'm not sure how this is an issue. Can you explain why you think that presents a problem in this model?

      How am I going to handle (or cover) the bandwidth costs if my particular video goes viral?

      That's only an issue if you're paying for per-byte bandwidth, which is certainly not guaranteed under this model. Indeed, content itself could spread out across the protocol, so that your own bandwidth costs would be minimal.

      I would love to leave the big platforms and control my own content better but the trade-offs are tough. I would very much like some indication of how to resolve them?

      There are trade offs to every approach. And you do highlight some in your comment -- though I feel like I did try to address many of them in the paper. But, you jump back and forth between trade offs for companies and trade offs for end users. I think, with companies, the trade offs become more interesting, as the costs of being a dominant platform increase -- while the opportunities for newer protocol-based business models also increase. At some point, there's a tipping point, where the protocol approach just makes more sense across the board.

      For the end users, each trade off you discuss strikes me as an opportunity for service providers to come in and provide a better solution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:35am

        Re: Re: What protocols?

        I am the earlier AC.

        This is not a technical paper, but rather an article talking about the concept. It was published in a series, where all of the other papers were written by lawyers, and the whole series was put together by a law professor working at a law school and a legal institute. The point was to get the idea across, not propose specific new protocols.

        Okay, then most of the rest of my comments don't really fit. The technical details wouldn't be part of article for/from lawyers. That's my fault.

        As you'll notice, I also suggest alternatives to advertising entirely as a business model, and point out that the data-focused advertising model is increasingly subject to increased costs, in terms of privacy regulations and government fines. (And while I agree that targeted ads these days are, by far, the most lucrative, I'm not convinced that will always remain true -- in part because I think it's a fool's gold, tricking gullible advertisers into thinking that such targeted ads are more effective. They are in some cases. But in many cases, they are not).

        I would say you hinted at alternative models but didn't go into enough detail on how your model would actually work. However, given the article was focused on lawyers, not technical people, your level of detail is more appropriate than what I was expecting given your usual level of detail and technical knowledge.

        I agree the current focus on detailed knowledge about the individuals seeing the ads is fools gold in my opinion also.

        But, you jump back and forth between trade offs for companies and trade offs for end users.

        Yes. I probably should have re-read my submission before hitting the submit button a few more times. But comments aren't quite the same as writing an article in terms of effort put into them.

        I guess I was hoping for some more concrete solutions to what both of us perceive as a problem with the way the Internet works today and what we both agree might be a solution to that problem.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 10:40am

    Explain Toxic speech

    Is it the way people say things..
    How they Express the same comments..
    Just the wording?
    Or is it the Action they wish to create?
    White vs Black and other colors with no idea or concept of the Supreme EU White man attitude?

    I know the Theory of needing to Cut back on the population generated in the past 100 years.
    I know the thoughts of "Where did all the animals go that nature created and Man have destroyed over the last 400-800 years. Let nature have abit more rule.
    I really wonder about the EU ideal of walking into a Location and Killing off the trees for Farms..Bringing in his OWN plants that were NEVER in the area, Killing off the DEAR cause he wants to grow grains, then killing off the Predators, Cause he hates the competition and loves being the top of the food chain. Then would love to have a Slave do all the work for him while he plays Golf and talks around to his neighbors..that are all doing the same.. The one i love the most is when he Runs around the world, Claiming Land he never Was, then brings in religion, "my god is best, and yours isnt, believe me or I will kill you." attitude Changes everyone christian, and still we treat them as Slaves and other things.

    I know the history of Cuba being a Rich WHITE mans Paradise after we took it from Spain and then got Pissed When Castro took it back.
    Love how England, then Spain, Then the Portuguese, then the USA(currently) is ran around the World Taking LANDS, and not giving even human rights to Anyone except the White man. Even when those other groups Help us win other wars..
    The USa has fought Canada twice(?) and England twice..Spain once, Mexico 2-4 times?? Across the Pacific even before WWI and WWII..were were taking the Spanish Islands..

    All for What? And at what costs?? Population control??(the Final idea in the background) and Hardly EVER have we not been at War in the USA. 20 years at most they figure..

    there can be allot more to say. Why say them, Why should I fill people in on the strangeness of mankind, when we seem to be the strangest..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:30am

    Question for Mike about the paper:

    Mike, did you dedicate the paper in the Public Domain, or at least license it with a free or sharable Creative Commons license? Because I want to distribute it far and wide!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:46am

      Re: Question for Mike about the paper:

      Distribute the link, then no worries.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: Question for Mike about the paper:

        Tell that to the EU.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 12:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: Question for Mike about the paper:

          If Samuel copied and pasted the content of the essay, then the EU might have some issues, but posting a link along with some insightful commentary that would make readers interested in clicking on that link, I think not.

          Or were you thinking of some different EU rules?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 3:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Question for Mike about the paper:

            They seem bent on getting Google to pay for the privilege of providing links to outside sources despite the fact that those links are keeping those sources alive on the internet.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:23pm

    For someone who claims to support a decentralized internet, you sure do spend a lot of time defending the massive corporations who have been leading us towards exactly the opposite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 1:26pm

      Re:

      Pray tell, where did this defense take place? Links, quotes, and other citations please.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 2:35pm

      Pointing out that corporations have legal rights under U.S. law is not a defense of a given corporation’s actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 3:43pm

        Re:

        It's a shame that this is all it takes to be considered "insightful" when it should be bloody obvious to everyone. Sadly, there are far more idiots than non-idiots. This is how low the bar is now.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2019 @ 7:18pm

        Re:

        Personally I'm interested to see which angle this knuckle-dragger chooses to pursue. Maybe it's the "Masnick likes Google and Google bad" argument, or the "net neutrality is all about government regulation" trap card.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Aug 2019 @ 11:56pm

      Re:

      Did you not read this very paper which explains why this system would minimize the dominant position of those companies...?

      Or did you read it, have your brain short out because the fake strawman Mike you've built up in your head over the past decade isn't who I really am... and then just decide, "nah, I'll believe the strawman, even though all the evidence shows I'm wrong..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 29 Aug 2019 @ 3:44am

    The monetary paradigm within which we swim!

    Thanks for your Knight First Amendment Institute essay, entitled: Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech, it's a very interesting read and I agree with it all.

    However Mike, I think you fail to deal with the fact that "money" is the foundational technology on top of which other technologies are built, and how this ultimately shapes the results of our technological innovation to support the interests of those who control the monetary system.

    The magic of our current global monetary-technology environment (the water within which we swim - as defined below) is that it both promotes innovation (ie., change, risk taking and deferred rewards) without threatening the power of established global elites, ie., within our current monetary paradigm, technological innovation inevitably evolves into monopoly control, working to support the interests of established elites, because of the current rules of our monetary system.

    Our current monetary-technology is a pyramid scheme with an elite network of families who control a hierarchy of interrelating networks, consisting of rules, institutions and infrastructure, including:

    • money types and associated rules and properties (ie., cash, digital credit, financial instruments, central bank reserves etc);

    • institutions (ie.,central banks, private banks, government treasuries etc), and;

    • infrastructure (payments processing and clearing systems etc).

    I didn't read anything in your paper that explains how you approach tackles this fundamental issue: how to deal with the fact that the underlying monetary-technological environment that promotes monopoly power, necessarily shapes the technological innovation which blossoms and evolves within it.

    I'm interested in your thoughts?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2019 @ 4:47am

      Re:

      The development of the internet proves your theory wrong. There are lots of other examples as well of technology being developed not because someone wants to make money but just because they can.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 31 Aug 2019 @ 2:31am

        Re: Re:

        You entirely missed my point, which is very likely my fault, as I find it hard to addresses these issues clearly.

        My point is that, most technology is developed by creative innovators, but then over time it is coerced and shaped to benefit established interests by the monetary/financial/economic environment in which it exists/evolves. Regarding the internet, ultimately those who own and control the wires and hubs (mainly CEOs of big corporations, funded by big banks), control the structure and use of the Internet. How does a protocols approach fundamentally deal with this undying problem?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2019 @ 4:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          How does a protocols approach fundamentally deal with this undying problem?

          Because, unless they block the protocols, anybody who can stand up a server can provide a service on the Internet. Individuals, and small business can join federated services, and act as local hubs if necessary.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You entirely missed my point

          Pretty sure I didn't.

          My point is that, most technology is developed by creative innovators

          You definitely did not say that.

          but then over time it is coerced and shaped to benefit established interests by the monetary/financial/economic environment in which it exists/evolves.

          My original point still stands. The development of the internet and pretty much everything on the internet proves you wrong.

          Regarding the internet, ultimately those who own and control the wires and hubs (mainly CEOs of big corporations, funded by big banks), control the structure and use of the Internet.

          No, they really don't. The reason why is because the wires and the hubs is only a small part of what makes the internet the internet. The protocols that use the wires and hubs is what makes the internet possible.

          How does a protocols approach fundamentally deal with this undying problem?

          As someone else already stated, unless those companies block certain basic protocols, they can't control what other people do on the internet. Anyone can run their own client, stand up their own server, etc... and no one can stop them. To actually try would break the internet.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Aug 2019 @ 6:53am

      Re: The monetary paradigm within which we swim!

      I would be more worried about proprietary code becoming a part of any protocol. All protocols should be proprietary free and have only open patents as a part of their schema. That we have allowed private entities to include their 'stuff' in protocols in the past is a shame, and not a reason to allow it in the future, or to continue to allow payments made for what is essentially public functionality.

      More directly to your point, no part of the banking industry should be coerced into denying services to individuals or organizations or corporations just because some talking head politician says 'um, them bad', nor should they be allowed to (think Paypal as an example). Banks, even the central banks, are private entities and should not be involved the political shenanigans that our elected and bureaucratic infrastructure espouses unless there are actual laws and/or court proceedings making those shenanigans legitimate.

      The rest will work itself out as the nature of the Internet and business does by routing around things that don't work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 31 Aug 2019 @ 2:34am

        Re: Re: The monetary paradigm within which we swim!

        I don't really follow the logic of your repose. But at the heart of what you are saying seems to be the wrong assumption that banks are subordinate to political/law making institutions/processes. In reality, it is completely the other way around.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Aug 2019 @ 6:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: The monetary paradigm within which we swim!

          That's literally not how it works. I can't recall a single time where the banks passed laws or were somehow above the law.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Michael, 1 Sep 2019 @ 4:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The monetary paradigm within which we swim!

            ...political/law making institutions are subordinate to banks in terms of economic influence and raw power.

            This doesn't seem to be evolving into a fruitful discussion as you seem not to be able to engage with the points I'm making, and insist on going down pointless dead ends.

            I'm no further forward with my understanding of the OPs ideas about dealing with the underlying shaping force of our monetary/financial/economic environment on the technology that is developed and evolves with it?

            Take the internet, for example, a technology of open protocols, designed to facilitate information sharing and collaboration.

            Some corporate vehicles were set up (Amazon et al), pumped full with bank created money and set to work to monopolized core areas of the internet and ultimately reshape human society. I don't see anything in the OPs paper that fundamentally deals with how to mitigate against this monetary environment that inevitably corrupts technological development so that over time technology ends up working for established interests!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2019 @ 3:10pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              ...political/law making institutions are subordinate to banks in terms of economic influence and raw power.

              No they aren't. Banks are subordinate to the government. The government can make a law telling banks what they can do or how to handle money. Banks can NOT tell government what to do or withhold funds against the law.

              Banks do have a lot of economic influence and raw power WITHIN the law, but they are still subordinate to it and the only ones who can change those laws is the government.

              This doesn't seem to be evolving into a fruitful discussion as you seem not to be able to engage with the points I'm making, and insist on going down pointless dead ends.

              I am directly engaging with the points you are making. You do not understand how the world works. I am pointing it out to you.

              I'm no further forward with my understanding of the OPs ideas about dealing with the underlying shaping force of our monetary/financial/economic environment on the technology that is developed and evolves with it?

              That is not my fault. He quite clearly explained it, and anyone who understand how the internet works understands it as well. You do not. Technology is not solely built and developed under monetary/financial/economic pressure. People like to make cool things. Some like to make money off those cool things. Others don't care.

              The internet was built and developed with absolutely no regard for the monetary benefit. Indeed, point to the developers of the internet who are now insanely rich because of they built and designed it and now make money off of everyone who uses it. I'll wait.

              Take the internet, for example, a technology of open protocols, designed to facilitate information sharing and collaboration.

              Yes. Lets' do take a "technology of open protocols" that no one owns and therefore can't make money off of.

              Some corporate vehicles were set up (Amazon et al)

              Made possible by the internet, they are not the internet.

              pumped full with bank created money

              [Citation needed.]

              and set to work to monopolized core areas of the internet and ultimately reshape human society.

              [Very much citation needed.]

              That was and is not their purpose. Unless by "reshape human society" you mean develop new technology and services to benefit humanity. Google was developed by a couple of guys who wanted a better way to surf the web. Facebook was created by a couple of guys who wanted to create a better way to stay in contact with friends and acquaintances. And nobody "set them to work to monopolize core areas of the internet". Indeed, which "core areas of the internet" would those be? DHCP? DNS? HTTP? SMTP? Hm?

              I don't see anything in the OPs paper that fundamentally deals with how to mitigate against this monetary environment that inevitably corrupts technological development so that over time technology ends up working for established interests!

              Once again, that's because you don't understand how the internet, technology, or the world works. Not everything that is invented and constantly developed is done so because of money. And the internet already works off of open protocols that no one owns and no one can make money off of. So if you move social media to open protocols instead of central platforms, then you remove the ability for people to make money off them, thereby removing that influence.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.