Professor Ruben Verborgh (Semantic Web, Ghent University, Belgium, research affiliate at the Decentralized Information Group at MIT, US) is convinced web apps are deeply broken: 

they compete mainly on who harvests the most data, not on who provides the best experience or innovation. This has consequences for developers, who are unwillingly dragged into this rat race, and end users, whose privacy and potential is limited.

 

Verborgh promotes the Solid ecosystem, the latest project by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, advocating for a different way of building apps that is better for everyone. He will present Solid at the FOSDEM-conference in Brussels, Belgium (2&3 February) and the organization already had an interview with Verborgh

On his own blog he recently published a long post Re-decentralizing the web, for good this time.

In that post he “explains the history of decentralization in a Web context, and details Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continued battle for a free and open Web. The challenges and solutions are not purely technical in nature, but rather fit into a larger socio-economic puzzle, to which all of us are invited to contribute.”

Today I became a member of The Long Now Foundation. Here is what they say about themselves:

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the [Clock] and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

I discovered them because Bruce Sterling, one of my favorite thinkers and writers, gave a talk at a Long Now event. People involved with The Long Now are Kevin Kelly, Brian Eno, Stewart Brand… They organize inspiring talks and do great stuff like building a mechanical clock which should last 10,000 years. I think it’s a good thing to support them. They help people to think and to debate in a larger context, in a slower and more thoughtful way.

On February 2 and 3 thousands of developers will gather in Brussels, Belgium for FOSDEM, a conference promoting free and open source software. Things interesting me:

  • Collaborative information and content management application 
  • Decentralized Internet & Privacy 
  • Open document editors
  • Open media (video, images, audio)
  • Tool the Docs (writing, managing, rendering documentation)
  • Blockchain (of course)
  • Community
  • Python and Javascript

There will be keynotes about freedom and ethics, a bookshop etc. I’ll have to make hard choices about what to attend, but anyway, I’ll report about the event on this blog. 

The mood seems to be a bit dark. Let me quote the decentralized internet page:

PCs are less and less used while smartphones are soaring and data is collected and stored on servers on which we have very limited control as users. What happened to user’s freedom and privacy in the meantime? The outlook is not so great: we have less and less control over our digital environment. Network neutrality is heavily attacked and mainstream software products are usually proprietary or run on servers we don’t have control over. Modern technology has given the powerful new abilities to eavesdrop and collect data on people – with critical social and political consequences.

 

Happy New Year everyone! My plans in bullet points:

* Continue blogging on this site, following IndieWeb-formats.
* Learn how to use GitHub and version control in general, including using the command line interface.
* Stay involved with the IndieWeb-community.
* Prepare longer posts and articles using software developer procedures, using GitHub.
* Investigate how decentralized publishing could be applied (Beaker Browser, IPFS, Solid… )
* Integrate this in a general workflow for blogging and learning, based on teachings by Howard Rheingold and Stephen Downes.

More to come… In the meantime, have a look at an emerging article on GitHub, don’t hesitate forking and suggesting changes and additions.