Prototyping a Decentralized Web with Browser Extensions

Creating browser extensions provides an easy and accessible way for people to express their vision for the internet they want. This is important because, for the Decentralized Web to be a truly democratized and viable alternative to today’s web, there needs to be equal access and participation in its conception, creation and usage. One way to foster this equality is to remove barriers for less technical folk and to provide a way for their ideas to be heard. This workshop will explore building browser extensions as an exercise in speculating on a better web.

The “Prototyping a Decentralized Web with Browser Extensions” Workshop was all about imagining. The discussions about the decentralized web are mostly technical but the way we can bring in less technical people is by communicating what the day-to-day benefits will be like. One of those benefits will be returning to the time where we had more control over how we presented ourselves on the web. For the first part of this workshop we experimented with taking control over our profile designs on social networks — adding weird filters, making the text monospace, changing content.

For the second part, we built a browser extension that allowed us to create our own data zones by grabbing and stashing content from social networks; functionality that will be possible when we, instead of corporations, own our data. Participants were invited to design their zones however they wanted.

To drive home the point that individuals should be able to interact with their content the way that’s best for them, participants were also asked to imagine and “draw a home” for the myriad data sets about their online and offline lives that companies have collected and saved about them.

Related videos from the summit

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Andrés Cuervo
Software Engineer, WebXR Artist

Andrés Cuervo is a web VR/AR/XR artist, developer, & human-computer-interaction researcher. Their work focuses on usability, accessibility, generative design, and pushing the boundaries of narratives through new technologies.


Videos from the summit:

Omayeli Arenyeka
Artist & Technologist, School for Poetic Computation

Omayeli is a Nigerian born artist and technologist living in New York. She use writing, data visualization, code and satire to put our current realities in a view that exposes issues and fosters disillusionment. She's also interested in making technology and data more accessible and understandable. She gives talks and teaches workshops on creative and activist uses of technology. She's an alum of the School of Poetic Computation and has previously worked as a Software Engineer at LinkedIn. She's currently exploring bias in language at the Recurse Center.


Videos from the summit: