I guess the question that occupies my mind a lot these days is:
Can we build a healthy, positive, life-affirming Internet?
I feel like large parts of our Internet infrastructure are toxic to mental health and social freedom and were designed that way on purpose, because the system seeks money, and you get more money by controlling people than by allowing them to flourish and reach their full potential. This has always been capitalism's big problem (and socialism's too).
@natecull The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. If you want to create an internet that can't be used in bad ways, I don't think that's possible, at least not if you want it to be useful at all.
"The internet isn't inherently good or evil. That's determined by what people do with it. "
No, I don't subscribe to that view of technology at all.
The idea that technology is "value-neutral" is itself an idea (and ideas are themselves technologies), and it's an idea that I don't think is value-neutral.
I think every technology has a shape. It imposes that shape on us, making some acts/thoughts easier, and others harder.
Our tools shape us. We should care about what that shape is.
To take one axis of many by which to measure and describe the Internet:
Our computing environment can be decentralised, or centralised.
Each of these options might not be strictly describable as 'good' or 'bad', but they are certainly *different*.
If everything you say online is filtered by a central authority (as in China) ... then that shapes society in a certain way.
If everything is filtered by Apple, that is also a shape.
If there is random chaos and viruses, another shape.
@byron @natecull On the centralised vs distributed topic, consider the public library. An institution largely regarded as good, is is nevertheless without a doubt a centralised solution. A distributed "library" would mean asking random people in the street if they happen to have the book you're looking for and if you might kindly be allowed to borrow it. I don't think that would work very well.
Libraries are centralized by being a government- run single system, but they're also federated. I can request a book at my local branch from any in the city and return it anywhere.
With tech change, maybe we could see P2P libraries with individuals! But probably not.
@mansr @byron @natecull that's a myopic view of decentralization and an inaccurate description of libraries. Librarians communicate between libraries where neither library is the "central" library. Decentralization is about decentralized control and access, and in the case of libraries, control of information - if you can visit two libraries with different collections and policies, I don't see that as "centralized"
I think by decentralized we generally mean not "choose which fiefdom to be a serf in, multiple choice allowed" but that you can actually be part of the network in any of several nodes.
I do, and I remember it dying, I think because of spam and abuse.
It was a sad day when ISPs stopped providing Usenet service, and it was a sadder day when Google stopped being the Usenet provider of last resort.
I remember FidoNET too, and how the BBS scene pivoted to become ISPs and that's how America Online happened.
@natecull @mansr @2ck One thing I liked though about the spam era of Usenet, which was around the time I started using it anyway, was that the spam measures were all on the user end. You had to learn how to manage a kill file, which on the one hand is a negative because it excludes less technical people. But the idea of choices of who to filter and mute, being in the hands of individual users, was a good path.
We only see remnants in the "safe search / all results" of search engines.
@byron @natecull @2ck I think what killed Usenet was its governance. Although the operation was decentralised, the group hierarchy was tightly controlled. When internet use exploded, anyone who wanted to create a new discussion group was forced to turn to mailing lists or web based solutions, and Usenet dwindled as a result.
@2ck @mansr @natecull YMMV. The big local library is literally called the CENTRAL library. You can reserve books from any branch and pick them up at your preferred branch, and then drop them off at any branch. They use one central web site for all branches.
Roughly the same deal in the last city I lived in.
It *is* decentralized, partly: you have many branch options and books are distributed.
Strictly it's federated in the original sense of multiple elements under one umbrella organization.
A nice little Mastodon instance. Mild trolling encouraged (keep it local), but not required. Malicious behaviour is not tolerated. Follow Wheaton's law and you'll be fine.