Redecentralize 15

Redecentralize 2015 collage from the Hi Project


I’ve been on the edges of Redecentralize for a while now.

I watched with interest when Ross started compiling the Alternative Internet list back in 2013. Even though my only contribution was to somewhat snarkily add Books to the list, it was, and remains a fascinating list of new technologies, the impact of which we won’t fully understand for a long minute yet.

A little later I sat in a downtown Geneva bar with Ira, Ross and Francis, discussing Ben Franklin and his habit of founding charter based civic institutions – the backdrop to the holy Redecentralize trinity of Privacy, Resiliance & Fun taking form.

At the tail end of 2013 – as the Snowden revelations just kept on coming, and we all started to internalise the fact that we were living in an international surveillance state of hitherto unimaginable pervasiveness – Redecentralize started to form itself into a community.

There were regular meetups in London, full of smart people who came together over a fascination with fresh developments in decentralizing tech, and a shared belief that somehow things could be different.

Although I may have turned up to the meetings – even helped to book rooms – I was only ever a tourist.

More of that later though.

Because just a few weeks ago, the Redecentralize community gathered itself in Soho, London for a full blown two day conference – pulled together from nothing in just a couple of months thanks to the heroic volunteer efforts of Ira, Blaine, Jeremy, Erika, & co.

What even is a Redecentralize?

The first thing that strikes you is the sheer breadth of the Redecentralize movement. Self hosted email, political theory, blockchains, backup, web standards, journalism, messaging apps and much more besides.

As is the case with all broad churches, this can make it hard to figure out what exactly is bringing all of these things together. Talking to people over the weekend, the two most common seemed to be curiosity and politics.

For some, Redecentralize is interesting because much of the tech is so new – and for them, the intellectual exercise is simply fascinating.

Point at a thing and then ask
“What happens if I Blockchain that?”

(Feel free to substitute Distributed Hash Table, IPFS, et cetera for Blockchain.)

For most of the rest, the motivation seems to stem from a deep unease with the way in which our societies are organised. A feeling that the individual is disenfranchised, that we are less equal, less autonomous than we should be.

Technology has a profound ability to alter these structures – to re-write the rulebook. For people searching for a way to increase autonomy and reduce inequality, decentralization technologies often feel like they have the potential to be the early building blocks.

Which is where I start to get interested – for the most part I could care less about the technical details of decentralization tech.

But, where is the button?

One of the interesting things about this space – with such a deeply philosophical-political motivation for it’s existence – was the almost complete absence of conversations operating on those levels.

Rather, we seemed to spend our time dwelling on the How, without first setting out Why. When we jump straight to the hows of technology, it makes it hard to figure out what this is for – it leaves us asking So what?

I think that’s what Ade was getting at when she exclaimed:

If we’re going to help people, we really need to stop with the fetishization of complexity and technical details.

My paraphrasing – apologies for errors therein

This is where something like Redecentralize as institution could help out redecentralization as movement.

Going beyond mapping the space of emerging decentralization technologies and popularising them to a wider audience, the value of bringing people together at events like Redecentralize 2015 is unlikely to be sharing the technical details of protocols, platforms or standards. Rather, it affords the opportunity to debate the deeper questions, to figure out what motivates us, what change we want to see in the world, and why that world might be better.

So what.

So that’s what I want to see more of at the next event.

The so what track. Which would ban acronyms, and encourage us to forge alliances with people who want to see the same changes in the world as we do.

Here’s what the schedule might look like:

  1. Autonomy – a primer: A brief history of the moral and political philosophy of autonomy, what it means for us in everyday life, and how we can achieve it.
  2. How to talk about the ethics of tech: All technology is created, and operates within an ethical famework. Sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. As a collective, technologists don’t do well at talking about that context. Let’s try and find some better ways to talk about the moral choices we make when we build things.

  3. Why Decentralize?: A group exploration of when it helps to decentralize, and why. Understanding the dangers of centralization, as well as what you lose when you decentralize.
  4. Defending Decentralization: Plenty of technologies that look like they disrupt existing power structures in a way that makes us more equal have the potential to create dynamics of power just as polarised as the things they “disrupt”. How do we design social and legal governance structures that protect us against future power grabs?

Maybe that sounds like it could be your kind of thing? (Suggestions for more here very welcome!) If so, then maybe I’ll see you at Redecentralize 2016…

20 Responses to “Redecentralize 15”

  1. Wow David! Well said…and much along the lines of what I have thinking about. I work for Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive and he’s asked me to create the first Decentralized Web Summit in SF on June 7-9 (http://www.decentralizedweb.net). Being a tool builder, Brewster has a vision of building better tools and has had me gather some of the best carpenters in the world. But I am a storyteller, and I understand the importance of how you express your values. So I’ve invited some good thinkers/talkers/anthropologists like Amber Case, Cory Doctorow, and the like. It would be great if you and the Redecentralize folks could join us in SF.

    Can you shoot me an e-mail so I can send you an invite to the Day One “Builders Day” which is not public? Can I republish your blog on the LEARN MORE Section of the web site?

    best,
    Wendy

    • Keesha says:

      I was struck by the hoestny of your posting

      • Lucky says:

        Thank you for the opitnourpty to show you our style and apply for a dt position. Looks like there's quite a few creative crafters who are applying… Good luck to all of us! ;)

      • Hi Mandy – on your recommendation, I read ‘Someone at a Distance’ and really enjoyed it. I loved the uncomplicated style of Dorothy Whipple’s writing and will certainly follow your lead and get myself a copy of ‘The Priory’. I belong to a reading group, so this could become one of our reads in 2013 – keep up the great work with your recommendations!

      • Roger D. / Have you listened to the guys from the Tropical MBA? (www.tropicalmba.com) They have two podcasts, both of which are excellent. There’s a focus on entrepreneurship with more than a touch of marketing gloss but these guys definitely get it.

      • http://www./ says:

        Pana atunci trebuie sa punem de-o campanie publicitara, poate outdoor, sa se gandeasca mai multa lume la acest subiect.Un slogan ar fi:"Spune ce crezi SI ce nu crezi!"

      • phim hay mà gặp cái ending chế của bác nào vậy nhỉ ? tụt hứng quá ! gái 2D là ngon nhứt cần gì mấy em 3D đỏng đảnh ! hì hì

      • Brian – I was about to type ‘and bankrupting themselves with the Vietnam War’ when I thought that from the Korean War to Afghanistan, they’ve never not been at war and spending ever more on their military. The sad thing is that the military budget is probably one of their biggest employers. Peace breaking out would just about finish off the American economy!

    • Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Excellent task.

    • ^It is not impossible and in fact it seems Tuscans have more than Brits, but probably you'll find people discrediting this study because being the oldest in Europe it seems something that only Basque and North Europeans can claim.

    • I don't think these crackers would last long enough for me to make a dip! B and I would start eating them not stop until they were gone! What a great cheesy cracker!!!

    • Some secured do post as regular credit accounts. Even if they post as secured, I think other potential creditors would look at this & think "at least they have cash in hand to back this up"! In these times, that seen as a bad thing.Just some food for thought.

    • באתי להגיד ש"המבולבלים והנרתעות" זה שם מצוין ללהקה אבל האמת שזה קצת ארוך מדי. אולי זה יהיה השם של האלבום הראשון.

    • http://www./ says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. It’s helped me a lot.

  2. Caro says:

    They removed the view count because of Political reasons. People are starting to see the TRUTH on these view counts. They tried to censor vids like Ron Paul, ZeitGeist, Anti-Islamic and AniirCh-tstian, Anti-Gov't, etc.

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