Please contact Wendy Hanamura, wendy [at] archive.org / or DWebcamp staff at Dwebcamp@archive.org / Internet Archive (415) 561-6767
To download high res photos, audio and videos from past DWeb events, click here: https://archive.org/details/decentralizedwebsummitmedia-press. Photo credit: Brad Shirakawa / CC license
DWeb SELECTED AUDIO FILES & QUOTES
From August 1 2018
Note to journalists: These quotes and audio clips, provided by the Internet Archive, are available for journalists and bloggers to use. Please quote the person by name and affiliation.
Brewster Kahle, Founder, Internet Archive
1) “There'll be coders. There's going to be lawyers, there's policymakers. There's humanitarians. There's diverse voices from all over the world, coming together to try to be part of the discussion. So it's not just lock a bunch of coders in a room, and say "gosh, what do they have for us now?" It's, "let's do this in the open. Let's go and make it so that people can participate and be part of this.”
2) “Some of the problems the World Wide Web that we've seen in the last few years are the surveillance structures that Snowden gave light to. There are the trolling problems that we saw in the last election. There's privacy aspects, of people spilling their privacy into companies that sometimes aren't the most trustworthy. There's advertising technologies being used against users. There's a lot of failings that we've seen in the World Wide Web. I don't know how many of these we can take on in a new generation of exciting technologies. But let's at least list all the things we'd like to do, and it's much more likely then, that we'll meet able to make some progress.”
3) “The Web in some senses is decentralized—in the sense that there are websites all over the world that answer when your web browser goes to them. But the problem is that if any of those servers go down, the website is just gone. It's not like the books and libraries that I grew up in where, you know, OK so one library might burn down, but you can still find the books and the other libraries. That's not the case with the Web. If A website is either taken down, or goes out of business, or is blocked in some country or for some reason, then it's gone for everybody. So how do we go and make things reliable? The Internet Archive has been working on that with the Wayback Machine, to go and do that function. But it's kind of an add-on. It's kind of a cludge. So can we weave it into the structure of the Web itself, so that things live in multiple places, so that they're permanently reliable? So you can instantly go to other sites to be able to find the information that we now all depend on?”
4) “To be successful, so the Decentralized Web is encouraging lots of winners, we're going to need lots of participation, lots of voices. The Internet Archive is just playing a part of a role. This is a community effort from lots of different places and perspectives. So this is a time to join in, to find a place, get knee-deep in the technologies. Try some things out. Break some stuff. Invest some time and effort. Let's build a better, open world, one that serves more of us. That's the opportunity, and we need lots of participation. Let's do this as a global project together.“
5) We need a few different pieces. One is a decentralized storage system so that you can go and store things securely in multiple places. This is with that signed cryptography so you know, if you get it back, it's hasn't been distorted. We need a naming system, so that it's simple, so you're not dealing with long phone number-like things to try to know where you're trying to dial to. We need to integrate smoothly with browsers, so it's an easy upgrade. So it's not like 'oh, you have to throw out all the things that you used to do,' or everything has to be rewritten. So those are some of the components.”
6) “The Internet Archive has employed one person, and there's been lots of volunteers helping to try to make the Internet Archive, but decentralized. Can we like, put ourselves online? Can we like, take the movies and the videos, the books that are on the Internet Archive, and make those available in a decentralized way, and kind of show off something that's working? So that's a piece. And lots of people are doing the same, where they're going and doing pieces of systems -- chat systems, storage systems, security systems, naming systems -- and it's going to be just fun and interesting to see all of these people come out of all over the world and say, ‘hey, this is possible. And if I work with your thing, then it'll come up much faster.’”
7) “I've gone and used some of the decentralized technologies to do this for my blog, and that works pretty well. It just tries to show that the technologies have made something kind of magic possible which is this peer-to-peer backend of the web. You can go and make it so that things live everywhere and nowhere. It's the thing that the Big Boys do, the big corporations do, with the Amazon Cloud, where it moves your data closer to where the users are so it's faster. But that's only the Big Boys. Can we make it so that everybody's website could have those sorts of capabilities of redundancy, reliability, speed, reader privacy? Can we make that so that's available to all, not just those that can pay for it?”
8) And The Internet Archive is dedicated to the open world. We're only going to survive if the open world is more interesting than closed app worlds of the cell phone world, or some other sort of -- what I would think of as dystopian world of closed, segmented, siloed, corporately-owned little pieces of property. I'd much rather see an open, next-generation Web succeed.“
9) “There are lots of people jumping into this technology now, and a lot of it's funded by VCs and the like. And those guys really want return for their money. And that's a little worrisome, especially early on, when a technology is getting going. The government used to play a much bigger role in the development of the Internet, to try to get a lot of the layers done in the open, in academic structures, where there aren't proprietary interests involved. But the government's not playing as much a role in these types of things. I hope they do -- many governments, from many places around the world. Also academics -- let's get lots of people involved that are much more part of the open infrastructure, so there can be open standards, that would be open source code, that could be locked open, if you will, the GNU software and open source software, that has, as Lessig puts it, some rights reserved, so that there's mechanisms to build on others without running into problems."
10) “I guess what it really comes down to is talented people that are really interested in throwing themselves into this. And those talented people, can they find support, not through proprietary or military interests that may not have the global good in mind? I'm hoping that we get much more foundation support, nonprofits….This Decentralized Web Summit, I think, is going to bring some of that to light, that this is an exciting area, that the nonprofits, educational institutions, government funding from all over the world, can go and build a better internet that serves us all.”
Danielle Robinson, co-Executive Director, Code for Science & Society
1) "So for me, the Decentralized Web is about people. It's about people maybe more than technology. It's a Web where people own and control their own data, a Web where the content that I produce, or that you produce -- and this could be art, music, writing code, anything -- is not by default shared or accessed through a centralized corporate service. It's a web that's fun and spontaneous, and is friendly to weird internet art. I'm a child of the '90s. I was a teenager in the 90s. So I love weird funky Web 1.0 throwback-style Internet art. So it's not really about specific technologies, though of course I work with the DAT team. It's about connecting people without intermediaries."
2) "So right now I see that happening -- so I work on a project called The DAT Project which is, at its heart, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. And people have built all kinds of fun stuff on top of that project. And one of those things is Beaker Browser. And Beaker Browser is a browser that has -- you can you browse the regular HTTP Web with it, but you can also browse peer-to-peer sites. And it's a lot of fun. Because of the way that it set up, it also enables serverless hosting. So I can create and host a website in my browser, from my browser. And that, I think makes it -- it removes an additional level of work to get new communities online, and makes it really easy and fun for people to customize and build the Web....And so, I think it's something that everyone should check out."
3) "My hope is that -- I want to have real, and maybe sometimes hard, conversations about the implications of the technology that we're all experimenting with now. I want to bring people to the table who weren't at the table two years ago at the last event, and who make sure that new voices in the community have the space to speak, and the support to talk about what's important to them. And so yes so I'm looking forward to a big diverse and exciting event."
4) "When technology is built, the biases of its creators are often embedded into the technology itself, in ways that are very hard for the creators to see, until it’s used for a purpose you didn’t intend. So I think it's really important that we talk about this stuff. We do talk about it. And essentially, better privacy and user controlled data makes it easier for anyone to share their message securely. And in today's world, that means that hate groups, like American white supremacists online, they're on the current existing web. They're also on the Decentralized Web. And I think it's important for our community to talk about that. We need a deeper exploration that's not just 'oh you know, we can't control that.' Because obviously, we can't. I mean, I'm building tools. I can't necessarily say who will use them. But I think more conversation -- that's not the end of the conversation for me."
5) "I'm really interested in the stewardship of public data long term. And libraries and other institutions like that, it's been kind of difficult and expensive to get those collections online. And I think it's unrealistic to ask public institutions to replace all their digital infrastructure. So my priority is making sure that the tools that we build are as interoperable as possible, and can be an additional foundational layer where, let's say, institutions are connected to each other, or a foundational layer where you can play around with a decentralized web. But I don't think you have to like stop using the regular web."
6) "DAT was built for large data sets that link dynamic data sets. So I think that researchers who work with it have found that it can be a useful tool to help them better manage their data.
And I think that the key for me is bringing scientific data management structures, whether that's like how I, as a researcher manage the data from the point of collection to the point of publication. But when I move on as a researcher to another institution or something, how does my institution or the publisher or whoever is stewarding the data sets, how do they manage that data for the long term? And big big big picture scientific data in its current form has not existed for long enough, for us to really understand the costs and needs of long, long term preservation."
7) "So we don't build with blockchain. The DAT project is not built or based on blockchain. For me, I see the blockchain like another tool, or another protocol, that doesn't encompass or define what the Decentralized Web is. The Decentralized Web can exist without blockchain, and does exist without blockchain. And it's a tool that can be used, similar to how other protocols are used on top of the current web."
8) "The community is a lot bigger now, and there are a lot more different priorities that are reflected in the community. And so I think it's really important for us to see like, OK why are you interested in this? Is it because of privacy? Is it because of surveillance? Is it because you want more creative control? Is it because you want to stop making money for these big companies that monetize your attention? There are so many reasons to bring people in. And I think it's time for the people who are building -- it's a good time. It's not like it's overdue. But now is a good time for us to get a bunch of people in the room, and have these conversations."
Matt Zumwalt, Former Program Manager, Protocol Labs (creator of IPFS: Inter-Plantetary File System)
Audio clips: https://archive.org/details/MattZumwaltSelectedClips
1) Why build a Decentralized Web?
“The technologies that became dominant were technologies that were centralized in nature, where you would set up a large server-based system, where everyone shares through a consolidated platform. And the people who run that platform decide how you're going to interact, how data is going to be shared, how we provide access to that data. It was all consolidating those decisions into the hands of very few. While at the same time, it was sort of increasing the barriers to entry of who could be creating a system where you could share data, because you needed to have access to millions of dollars in funding, in order to build a platform that could accommodate huge amounts of people sharing data or crawling across huge amounts of data, to discover things and remix and reuse. And so, this move towards decentralization now, in a way, is like a return towards those principles of the Web being this open space, where everyone is expressing themselves, and everyone is imagining what's possible with the information that we've created, and imagining what's possible for new modes of interaction and new modes of communication. And we have the power to run with those ideas as individuals.”
2) What is IPFS?
“IPFS is a protocol that's designed as an upgrade from HTTP. So HTTP is the underlying protocol that made the World Wide Web possible, and still makes the World Wide Web possible. When HTTP was first created, it was created with this idea that the Web was a giant peer-to-peer, opt- in system. The concept was anyone could run a web server, and share data. But what happened over time is that because of the way HTTP works, it's become less and less the case that we as individuals run web servers in order to communicate with each other. And instead, we rely on someone else to run the web server for us. That pattern was encouraged by HTTP, because HTTP is designed with the idea that you identify content by its location. And this is a lot like, if I wanted to recommend a book to you, I don't usually reccommended it by its location. I'll say 'you should read a book by a certain author with this title, it was published in a certain year,' with this understanding that there are many copies of that book in many places. And you could find any of those copies, wherever you find it, and know that you're reading the book I recommended. So that would be identifying the book by its content. And that's not how each HTTP works. HTTP works sort of like saying ‘you should go to this building, in this place, and look on this shelf, and get the book that's third from the right.' So IPFS makes it possible to identify any information on the web in a content addressed way, in this identifying by describing what the content is, with the expectation that it could exist in many places.”
3) More on IPFS:
“We've built a lot of basic tools that allow people to build applications on IPFS that can do any sort of dynamic activities. So you could do interactive editing of a text document. You could build a blog. You can do a messaging service. You can build any sort of application on top of IPFS, and then ship that out to the world for people to use. So there are many, many, many projects like that that are brewing out in our ecosystem. And some of them have gotten some traction, but I think over the next year, you're going to see a lot of them get a lot more use."
4) On Protocol Labs’ work and projects
“Protocol Labs was created by Juan Benet, who designed IPFS and Lib-P2P and also FileCoin, which is our more blockchain-specific project. IPFS, and also the underlying protocol called Lib-P2P are developed as open source projects that are fundamentally not-for-profit in their motives. So there's not a profit model behind those protocols. They're meant as basic protocols that improve the Web. And we want them to be broadly available. And we've designed them in such a way that if Protocol Labs, who initially created them, if Protocol Labs were to go away, you should still be able to rely on this infrastructure and these protocols that we've created. You should be able to use the software. You should be able to run your own infrastructure using those protocols. Our motivation for making those protocols and investing really heavily in making them better is that it gives us a better Web, a better basis of infrastructure for the whole Web, for us to build on, and to build new tools and new protocols in."
5) IPFS was designed protocol first
6) Transferring and storing large amounts of data on IPFS.
“This is partially about making the protocol implementations work better, so that if you're using an IP address we want it to be extremely reliable. We want to put huge amounts of data onto an IPFS node and be able to move it around. But we also want it to be easy to build applications. So some examples of things that I've been working on lately, is we're working on a project to make it easier to share large amounts of data between IPFS nodes. So this would be if you're wanting to move a terabyte or more of data between machines. Currently, people end up just dumping that data onto a hard drive and mailing it, in most cases. And so we're doing a round of tests to see if we can make that work smoothly and efficiently using IPFS.”
7) What is blockchain?
“So the blockchain is a technology. It's a technique for representing information, that allows you to have -- it allows anyone to make statements in public on that chain, so that it is seen and confirmed by everyone who's participating in that system. And so it allows you to have a public ledger of, what are the transactions that have occurred, and who conducted those transactions. That's an extremely powerful thing. An easy example could be, everyone can see I made that transaction, and now I have $100 less, you have $100 more. That’s kind of the quintessential example. But you could also do things like, if you had a public ledger saying that the president has made some statement in public, and you have everyone confirm that they've seen that statement. And now you have a public ledger that that statement was made. So you have all these opportunities for having a public record of what has been done, and what has been said.
Now, the costly thing is that running those systems is expensive. And so putting a large amount of data onto the blockchain is sort of costly for everyone who's there on that blockchain. So the incentive is to put smaller statements, smaller transactions onto the blockchain, and then to store the bulky bits elsewhere [00:43:03] The most common uses that we've seen from coordinating the project are people using it -- if they're a project that's using blockchains, and they're storing data off-chain. So they're doing this pattern of putting a transaction on the ledger and pointing to bulky or larger content off-chain on IPFS.
So we have that use, but then also people who are using it to publish public data sets, or to republish public data sets that have been pulled down from either things like data that you pulled from a federal agency that's public data, that you want to redistribute or hold a copy of, or also people who are networks of researchers, who are relying on a data set that they're doing analysis on, and they want to be able to pull down a copy of that data and maybe to cite that data and maybe to redistribute it also among their different machines that they're using to do analysis."
8) On scope for co-opting or misusing Decentralized Web tools
“We should be thinking, really proactively, about what are the ways in which these systems can be coopted, or distorted, or gamed or hijacked, because people are going to try all of those things. I feel especially motivated, because this work around the Decentralized Web, it resonates really deeply with so many people, of speaking to their core values about both the beautiful possibilities of the Web, and also the ways in which the dreams of what open communication could make possible are being coopted by many different parties over the years, and also being coopted by just the capitalist system that we operate within. And they all distort what we originally approached with a kind of beautiful idealism and beautiful ideas about the possibilities. So I think we need to be really careful, and really proactive about trying to understand, what are these ideals? What are the things we dream about seeing happen well here, and how can we protect those dreams?”
9) Progress since 2016 DWeb Summit
“On the protocol level, we're much further along than we were in 2016, at the last DWeb Summit, but there's still a lot of work to do. There's a mountain of things to get done at the level of just making it possible for any device connected to the Internet to connect with any other device. There's all sorts of little details, in how do you cover making it possible for those connections to occur, and for communication to happen between those devices. All of this excitement around blockchains and ICOs has played a really big role in legitimizing the entire space, in the eyes of the mainstream. But it hasn't solved all those problems yet. We're at the very beginning of really seeing what this new version of the Internet is going to look like.“
10) Need to get web browsers to support decentralized protocols
“Getting web browsers to natively support decentralized protocols and peer-to-peer protocols will make a huge difference in the upgrade path for your everyday internet user. From Protocol Lab's side, we think in terms of an upgrade path for the internet, and we want to make that upgrade path as smooth as possible. So we want an everyday user of the internet to be able to experience an easy and somewhat transparent transition from a centralized location-addressed Web to a decentralized peer-to-peer content addressed web, that doesn't feel jarring. It doesn't feel like they had to completely relearn how the Web works. Instead, it's that they discovered new possibilities, that they discovered new ways of being empowered and participating in the Web. But they didn't have to lose everything they had rolling before, and they didn't have to completely relearn how the Web works. And this is where Web browsers play a big role in that, because the Web browser is such an important actor in the system, when people are interacting with the Web. And so, if we get Web browsers to support peer-to-peer technologies faster, which is a big undertaking, that will make a huge difference in terms of smoothing out the path for adoption of peer-to-peer approaches in the Web.”
Mitra Ardron, Internet Archive’s Technical Lead for Decentralization
Audio clips: https://archive.org/details/DWebMitraArdronSelected
1) “I’m Mitra Ardron. I’m technical lead for decentralization at the Internet Archive. Up until August 2018, and up until the DWeb Summit, our main focus was trying to build a decentralised version of access to the Internet Archive, so you can load it up in a browser, and access Archive resources as functionally as possible, and as decentralized as possible. It won't be perfect by those days, because building this stuff is imperfect. We also would like to have the ability for people to pull down collections from the Archive, and offer them on the Decentralized Web from their own laptops. So if your view, if you care about the preservation of certain resources, you could build a collection. You could mirror it to your laptop, and then you could serve it via WebTorrent and whatever else. We're also working on a naming system, so you can name things across different transport layers, and a couple of other minor things.”
2) “I you think of our existing Web, it was originally designed to be decentralized. But over the years, we've come to see 90 percent of the traffic going through three or four different companies. A Decentralized Web would have two criteria to it. One is that data will be spread around the Web more, so your identity, the information you post to your feed, will be more like the old days of blogs, in that the data will be yours, and will belong to you, and it will be somewhere where you control it, and not Facebook. The other aspect is that, at the moment when we store something in the Net, we use the term 'going into the cloud.' But what it does is it goes into servers owned by one of those same companies. And in a decentralized web, that data would potentially be stored somewhere in the net, anywhere, on anyone's laptop, on any machine out there. In the sense of a hologram, where does the image of the face reside? It doesn’t reside in any one place. It’s kind of stored all over the hologram. And the bigger the hologram is, the more copies of the face there are. And I think the Decentralized Web is going to be more like that.”
3) “The biggest technical challenge is that we're trying to build something on something that itself is in flux, that all the toolmakers are building stuff, and all the tools are moving quite fast. But they're far from primetime yet. So we're trying to build on top of a shifting sands of things, that are themselves buggy. And of course anyone building on us is going to find the same thing with us, now.”
4) “The difference between now and like Web 1.0 is that in Web 1.0, we started off with defining a set of standards. And then you could build as a non-profit, an academic or a for-profit, to those standards. At the moment, the world has changed, and it's more APIs, and those APIs are defined by individual companies. So I think that we may see tensions in the future, as companies try and own those APIs and what's behind them. And there may be attempts to build -- single, unified companies will try and own it. I don't think they'll succeed, because the very energy that created the push for a Decentralized Web, different from big monolithic companies, will apply just as much if someone tries to go to a Decentralized Web that's monolithic. Other people will come up with their own approaches.”
5) “It will be great to replace the packet switching, how we get packets from my building to someone else's building layer, with mesh networks and things, I don't think it's going to work in the West. It may very well be a solution in developing countries, and I've worked a lot in developing countries. On top of that, I think we'll need technologies that enable two computers to talk to each other and exchange stuff, any two computers. That's going to need the browser companies to make that work more effectively than it does now. That's a big challenge. But that's going to have to be done by the browser companies. If not, other browsers will appear that replace them. And then on top of that, you need to build a set of utilities that people can use, like distributed file stores, distributed identity, distributed payments, things like that. And then, of course, people have to build something useful on top of that, because a file store, an identity manager on its own isn't much useful. What you want is someone to build the next generation of social media or whatever on top of those tools.”
6) “One of the challenges is how will all this pay for itself? But at the moment I think we've lost a Faustian bargain. We've sold our eyeballs and our attention for a few cents an hour. For those few cents an hour, which an advertiser pays to get your attention, you are deluged with all kinds of crap that you don't actually want to read. And I think we'll have to find new business models. Maybe it will be advertising. It will be more challenging to be advertising, because whoever owns the user interface won't be the people who manage the data and so on. So we'll have to think of some way to pay for it."
7) “We've seen with all the attention and hype around blockchain. And blockchain is, or Bitcoin is an implementation of blockchain, which is an implementation of a decentralized ledger, which is based on crypto and decentralized file systems. That's just one little sliver of what can be done with crypto and decentralized file systems. It's important for people to understand that while there's a lot of hype in blockchain, there's a lot of potential in the underlying technologies, and this is likely to be a wave of technology that's important to understand and know about, and get ahead of.”
8) “ I hope we'll see a lot more collaboration with people. I hope we'll start asking the question of, do we want decent standards, so that people can work on one part of it without having to work on everything else? I think that was one of the things that made Web 1.0 take off, was that someone could go off and work on a browser, while someone else is working on a server, and somebody else is working on content, and they didn't have it at all work together every day, because they knew what standards, what APIs they are working to.”
9) “I'm hoping we'll start asking the question, as to how we want tools written from different people to work together. For example, if we came up with a way that a standard for what your equivalent of your Facebook status update looked like, then people could work on UIs, people could work on processing, people could work on ways to retrieving that. The opportunity for people to work independently would be massively enhanced if they all knew they were going to be looking at the same chunk of data. Same for storage, right? We've got three or four different companies all of whom offer decentralized storage, but talking to each of them is really different. And if I'm writing an application, I don't really want to necessarily take a bet on which of those I want to be using. I'd like to be working to a common standard, so I can just say "store this" or "retrieve this" and get it. We've had to build a library to do it. But it would be much better if those online tools had some kind of standard interface that we could talk to.”
10) "Well, the first step in doing decentralization is to make it [the Internet Archive] run in the browser, without the page being built on the server. So at the moment, most pages on most websites are built by the server and then sent as the HTML that displays on your screen. Instead of that, what you do is, you access the data, and you build it in your own browser, with code that we've sent you. But that code is visible. It's all open source. That doesn't change the experience. The experience is intended to be as much like the Archive existing as possible. I was doing a demo last week, and everyone went to the page, and suddenly they're all watching this video really quickly, because what's happening is the video is coming from the other people who are watching the demo at the same time. It's not coming directly from the Archive. So the first person up is actually pulling it down from the Archive, but everybody else is getting it from them. That's the kinds of things we're hoping to do. It also means it’s going to work in situations where access is more difficult, maybe slower, or in places where it’s blocked.”