The Internet's Broken, Not Just Reddit – Techlore Talks 11

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I think decentralization is truly the next generation of internet products/services/platforms. Is that web3.0? Or 4.0? (Not sure what iteration we’re on now.) Anyway, I think it’s important to note there are different kinds of decentralization.

The “federated” type of decentralization is the wrong model I think for communication and content consumption. I don’t even know if I’d call it decentralization. They’re all actually centralized hubs; it’s just that there’s a whole lot of them and it’s easy to spin up new ones. Difficult to shut them all down, yes, but it creates unnecessary friction for community formation and participation. Given how the network effect works, people are just going to flock to the most popular hub anyway over time which just creates another centralized hub that is vulnerable to all kinds of bad actors. I’m far more concerned of these types of hubs becoming slowly poisoned by bad actors, not just shut down (which are also annoying).

The best kind of decentralization is a single network where all peers are able to see and communicate with each other and can form or drop their own connections. The only way to shut it down is to shut down the entire internet. But this type of platform is a very difficult thing to build correctly and I ranted about it the other day what such a thing might even look like. How do you form a community and communicate with people in a meaningful way when there are potentially 2 billion+ users on the platform?

Since my rant, just yesterday I discovered a project that somewhat aligns with what I envisioned. Sadly, it’s in the super, super early stages. I’m talking only a command-line interface for early alpha testing. But basically each node only stores and shares the data it’s interested in and has its own filters. The user is their own moderator in effect, and if this is implemented correctly the user won’t even realize that’s what they’re doing. To the user, it just feels like consuming, liking, disliking, and sharing content, thoughts, and ideas. The project is called for anyone wondering. I’m also keeping my eye on though that is not decentralized, but I like the concept.

Cheers to all the lost and wandering souls out there with reddit in its death throes.

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Those are valid concerns. With email you have the same with Outlook and Gmail being huge. However, I am wondering how a true peer-2-peer (p2p) system would function in terms of user friendlyness. It means that everybody basically have to host their own node. By using these federated models, you still have a lot more choice like email but still are able to communicate with others. While maybe not perfect, they might be our best alternative right now and by all means, they are not to bad.

Maybe just some thinking. What if all these federated social media implemented things like IPFS. In that way, content is still shared p2p but the server acts as a middle man to make sure that all content is always online, even if the original poster is offline. Just like email, these platforms can than diversify them self and provide a varying user experience people can chose from.

Usability would definitely be a concern, but I don’t think it’s as big an issue as you might think if the app is well designed. Just download and install the app, designate where all the data is to be stored and the allotted amount of space you’re willing to dedicate, and make sure you’re connecting to peers. The biggest issue of concern for me would be having one’s private key stolen, which is used to authenticate all of one’s user activity. A Yubikey or similar device used as part of the signature process would safeguard against this.

It’s funny that at some point after the release of that article Proton back-peddled on the title of the article in their blog:

At least they listened I suppose.


Yep, good catch!

I added this to the description and pinned comment:

Update: After recording this, Proton updated the headline to read: “Apple can see much of what you store in iCloud” - which is much better, but hopefully our points still speak to this recurring issue. Read it for yourself: Apple can see much of what you store in iCloud | Proton

Read the original headline: Henry: " As a fan of Proton, c…" -

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I think I covered my main counter-arguments as to why I think the federated model by far makes the most sense, so I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree :slight_smile:


Stop coming out with so much content! I have bookmarks piling up of videos I want to reply to, lol. So much discussion I want to participate in!

For the record, +1 on web apps again. I think that it could become a safeguard to custom ROMs in the face of Google potentially turning off Aurora Store. The more capable they become, they less the OS and it’s ecosystem matters. Happened on the desktop. Can happen on mobile.

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I think I covered my main counter-arguments as to why I think the federated model by far makes the most sense, so I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree :slight_smile:

I have to admit I didn’t realize that all the hubs in the federated model are able to talk and synchronize with each other. I guess my question then is who pays to run these hubs? Are they sustainable?

I’m really married to the idea of people hosting and sharing the content of the platform on their own device without them even knowing it. It would start out as text only content which shouldn’t consume too much data and bandwidth. If the device is a phone it shouldn’t upload much of anything until you’re on a wifi connection.

Isn’t this way to technical for a non-technical person? It means everybody would have to buy a hardware key.

I think it is, they just need to mature on this area. Email is also sustainable and also decentralized.

Use of a hardware key would be completely optional. For those without a Yubikey, the private key would be generated on the local machine and password protected when the user sets up their account, much in the same way cryptocurrency wallet software works. For the vast majority of users this would be fine. Worst case scenario would be an adversary getting your private key and impersonating you over this social network, but how is that any different from someone getting their Facebook account compromised. Regaining control of your account would be interesting, though. You’d have to create a new private key, and next I suppose you’d have to have your friends on the network vouch that the person posting with the new key is the real you and to revoke the old key.