DWeb use cases

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DWeb use cases


Title: Towards an Evaluation Framework of Decentralized Technologies for Nonprofits

Sub-title: What is decentralized technology and how can nonprofits decide whether or not to use a certain decentralized tech tool?

  • Co-created understanding of “decentralized” tech to demystify it
    • Automated, Consensus
    • More democratic
    • Technical alternatives to centralized, corporate owned tech
    • Protocols, blockchains
    • Transparent datasets
    • Freedom from (profit-driven) “managers”
    • Freedom from control to increase transparency (over the info that the system releases /records)
    • No obligatory intermediaries
      • Share a photo and don’t have to go through a centralized platform (P2P)
      • No single point of failure
    • Open Source

  • Problems with centralized internet (Examples)
    • Airbnb has data about hosts and the illegal displacement of tenants
    • Ride share platform with data about their workers
    • “They don’t want you to know what’s in the data”
    • Proprietary data sets that people should have access to to ensure equity and justice
    • Facebook /AWS service outages
    • Cloudfare (middleware): traffic management

  • Co-create an evaluation framework
    • Theoretical vs. practical decentralization
    • Tech Stack
      • Governance and Ownership Layer
      • Application Layer
      • Middleware
      • Data Layer:
        • Decentralization of information structure
      • Network Layer
      • Physical Infrastructure Layer
  • Criteria for evaluation:
    • Privacy
    • Anonymity
    • transparency
    • Safety - from whom/what?
    • Security
    • Interoperability: standards, protocols
  • Strategy / High level barriers
    • We need to “re-materialize” the internet: teach people how the internet actually works. We are too conditioned to the ease of use of everything.
    • Also, at the same time, we need to make dweb (and movement tools in general) more usable
    • In practice, we’re always relying on others for our tech, so let’s ask ourselves WHO are we relying on? How do we decide who to rely on?
    • What are the tradeoffs of freedoms and control that make a specific technology a good choice for a specific use case?
    • What is the liability attack surface?

  • Risks of decentralized technologies:
    • Piracy, different types of attacks

Examples of Using the evaluation framework:

  • Mastodon:
    • Decentralization stack: (is the technology decentralized at this layer of the stack?)
    • Ownership - yes
    • Governance - no
    • Federated - yes
    • Distributed - no
  • This specific combination makes Mastodon a decent choice for communities who need good moderation: you can exclude bad actors in a federated network
  • Barriers:
    • not easy to use, had to teach people how to pick a server
    • Usability hierarchy
    • Tracking clicks
    • People don’t know what they’re giving away

Use Cases

Projects and jobs to be done:

  • Bay Area Mesh - Wifi Access
  • Velid

Mastodon - Social Media

Mapeo - Remote Community Mapping

Safaru System (Kenya) - Local Community Currency (Community Inclusion Currency)

Internet Archive - Community Archives / Library

Starling Lab

Tor Project - Private Browsing

  • Tor Exit Nodes

Document Cloud - Google Docs



Val Elefante


Freedom from managers – freedom of control; to protect and enhance transparency

  • Proprietary info (datasets) that is withheld from the public
  • The D-Web can help store data in a decentralized way – they don’t want the consumer to know what is in the data
  • No obligatory intermediaries – ex – you can send anything without a middle man – its P2P
  • Autonomous self-hosting >> You own your own server
    • No single point of failure – the network is distributed – geographically and across individuals
    • There is a decentralized physical infrastructure (server) and the data is replicated and stored across multiple nodes, then there is an application layer
  • It’s a movement of ppl working on their own networks of servers and protocol standards to store data
    • You must be technical to use the D-Web – is it accessible without locking someone our
  • Cloudflare – increase use of your data by providing you with security
    • They use applications that are built on top of a decentralized network
      • Slack Alternatives, Instagram Alternatives, FB alternatives
      • Criteria – decentralized, repeatable, no single point of failure for your data
      • For ex, if AWS goes out – it will impact millions of ppl at scale
      • Information is also decentralized via transparency
    • Use-case
      • MESH Network: Ham-radio – Bay Area MESH, ppl can set up an antenna, point it at another antenna, they are connected, without the internet – It runs without any centralization / community-owned, open-source
        • Governance is on accountability – ppl keep each other in line
      • Mastodon – Social Media
      • Mapeo – remote community mapping –
      • Safaru system in Kenya – community inclusion digital currency - crypto
      • Internet Archive
      • Document Cloud – ppl can upload docs of any kind
      • Starling Lab
      • Tor Network – private browsing
      • Zoom alternative (like Jitsi)
      • The goal of the movement is working twd a more democratic, Automated and distributed consensus method
      • Strategy: re-materialize the internet and how it works
        • Non-technical ppl should be describing what the internet should be – like social sciences
      • Caution : that one individual made it

Mastadon – the individual owns the software – but it’s not distributed

distributed data is backed up on others’ computers

moderation – each server has it’s own moderation system – and a learning curve to participate

The bar to access needs to be low enough that the knowledge is accessible

Barriers: lack of education, usability, hierarchy, tracking clicks – people don’t know what they are giving away