Silversuit

If I ruled the web

I would decentralise and encrypt the web.

The power of governments and criminals to snoop on our online activity is akin to having a brain scanner. A device that could tap into our most intimate thoughts. Few would argue this is an appropriate capability for even your closest to have, let alone government or ne'er-do-wells. Our connected devices and activities online are an extension of our brain - our conciousness - and thus should be equally protected. This means strong, unbreakable encryption with absolutely no back doors.

In order enhance the resilience of the web - to prevent these single points of failure - I would decentralise it into a robust, self-healing distributed network. The goal would be to wrest control of chokepoints from governments and large corporations that act as gatekeepers to the web. I would put that control back into the hands of the people. There should be no means to prevent the open publishing of any content whatsoever. The web should be completely neutral and completely open. Free as in speech, if not as in beer. Locking the web open and encrypted in this fashion may seem extreme, but consider the story of Ulysses and the Sirens before dismissing the idea.

A decentralised, distributed web would have many other benefits. For a start, we could stop websites from disappearing, which they do at an alarming rate. It would also ease the burden on any one server; distribute the load among many peers (much like Bittorrent). Net neutrality would be much easier to uphold. We could have truly independent publishing: we wouldn't be reliant on a single organisation to host our work. It would reduce the need for top-down governance; i.e., reducing the single points of social failure (see the NPM pad-left debacle for an example of this).

I'm participating in the University of Southampton's Web Science course on FutureLearn. This post is one of the assignments.