When I suck a man off I always swallow. I enjoy the sensation of his DNA slipping down my throat; it is the most sensual form of data entry my life currently permits.
These two views aren’t going to be easy to reconcile, because the ideas of what “accountability” looks like in both contexts – and more importantly, the mechanisms of accountability built in to the systems born from both contexts – are worse than just incompatible. They’re not even addressing something the other worldview is equipped to recognize as a problem. Both are in some sense of the word open, both are to a different view effectively closed and, critically, a lot of things that look like quotidian routine to one perspective look insanely, unacceptably dangerous to the other.
I think that’s the critical schism the dialogue, the wildly mismatched understandings of the nature of risk and freedom. Seen in that light the recent surge of attention being paid to federated systems feels like a weirdly reactionary appeal to how things were better in the old days.
In the long term, I see that as the future of Mozilla’s responsibility to the Web; not here merely to protect the Web, not merely to defend your freedom to participate in the Web, but to mount a positive defense of people’s opportunities to participate. And on the other side of that coin, to build accountable tools, systems and communities that promise not only freedom from arbitrary harassment, but even freedom from the possibility of that harassment.
I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s a mistake to think of federation as a feature of distributed systems, rather than as consequence of computational scarcity. But more importantly, I believe that federated infrastructure – that is, a focus on distributed and resilient services – is a poor substitute for an accountable infrastructure that prioritizes a distributed and healthy community.
We’re definitely going to have to build a bunch of new tools.
HTTP as the underlying protocol of the web allows for decentralized publishing. Anyone can operate a web server and publish their own content. And anybody with a web browser can access that content (subject to governments and ISPs imposing limitations). But as a stateless protocol, HTTP needs a data layer for any application functionality, which until recently was provided by companies such as Google (search), Facebook and Twitter (social), Amazon and eBay (commerce). Because we didn’t know how to maintain state in a decentralized fashion it was the data layer that was driving the centralization of the web that we have observed.
The potential for blockchain technology to provide an organizationally decentralized alternative for maintaining state is beginning to be be reasonably well understood. I first wrote about this possibility on the USV blog in 2013 and a year later here on Continuations, clarifying why bitcoin represents such a foundational innovation. Organizationally decentralized but logically centralized state will allow for the creation of protocols that can undermine the power of the centralized incumbents.