Techdirt Podcast Episode 241: Protocols Versus Platforms, Part One

from the open-v-closed dept

Today on the podcast, we've got the first part of a panel discussion organized by Lincoln Network on a subject we've been talking more and more about around here: a return to an internet based on open protocols instead of closed platforms. The panel, which took place last week, is moderated by Marshall Kosloff and features Mike Masnick, Cory Doctorow, Ashley Tyson and Mai Sutton. In next week's episode we'll have the second half along with the Q&A at the end, but this week you can dive in to the first part of this wide-ranging discussion about protocols versus platforms.

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Filed Under: platforms, protocols


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2020 @ 8:22pm

    As this discussion continues, and as you write articles on this, I'm curious to see if you have solutions to multiple issues that would with an Internet returning to protocols:

    1. Video platforms like YouTube and Twitch, and how they can possibly be usurped by video protocols. What does a video protocol look like? How are creators on the various video protocols compensated and expected to grow their audience? How will video hosting work on protocols and what happens if a protocol goes under; will people have to reupload stuff from their computers, or will there be the ability for video content creators and streamers to have their entire videographies/archive come along with them to a new instance/etc.?

    2. I follow a lot of artists on Twitter. Part of the way that they gain a following, commission work, and otherwise earn a living is thanks to the way that their work can easily be shared and discovered by everyone on centralized platforms. How does a switch to protocols affect their ability to reach new audiences and potential commissioners? Will artists have to do more work to get themselves noticed?

    3. Speaking of compensation: The protocol approach you describe where people get compensated via exchangeable cryptocurrencies also requires a cryptocurrency or set of cryptocurrencies that aren't treated as a joke by the general population, and also won't go belly-up like what seems to be happening to Libra, which has also helped to make cryptocurrencies look like a joke.

    4. How will these protocols scale across smartphones? Will people be able to download a single app and be able to access various services built on top of protocols?

    5. How will the average "Non-niche" user be asked to navigate the world of social media protocols? One issue I see is that there will be services that come along and say “Hey, we know this protocol thing is all complicated and tough to understand. If you let us have your data so we can sell it and target ads at you, we can help you keep track of your friends across all these different instances and stuff." We could end up with companies continuing sucking up data, selling it, and targeting ads at people, but this time as part of this system of protocols.

    So much of this talk of protocols and decentralization means (to me at least) that more work will be foisted upon end users and content creators to continuously curate and monitor their experiences and be ready to move themselves to another instance/service/protocol if the one they use up and fails. Making people's online experience into more work is definitely not going to earn decentralization and protocols any fans.


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