The Decentralized Internet Is Here, With Some Glitches
I often write in Google’s online word processor Google Docs, even when noting the company’s shortcomings. This article is different: it was drafted in a same but more private work announced Graphite Docs. I discovered it while exploring a nascent and glitch-ridden online realm known as the decentralized internet.
Proponents as varied as privacy partisans and pavilion venture capitalists talk about the decentralized internet as a kind of digital Garden of Eden that can restore the freedom and goodwill of the internet’s early days. The controversy extends that big-hearted tech firms have locked up our data and psyches inside stockholder-serving pulpits that crush race and privacy. Ultra-private, socially self-conscious decentralized apps, sometimes dubbed DApps, will give us back ascendancy of our data, and give startups murder heavyweights once more.
“The better inventors, developers, and investors have become attentive of building on top of centralized stages, ” Chris Dixon, a partner with investor Andreessen Horowitz wrote last month, in a kind of manifesto for a more decentralized internet. Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web has similar concerns. Graphite Docs and some other early DApps are far from perfect but testify there’s something to the publicity. A life less dependent on gloom beings is possible, if not yet easy.
When you type in Google Docs, every text is sent to the ad company’s servers, where you must take it on faith your data will be left alone. Despite Google’s privacy policies and strong honor for the safety, it has the technological ability to do whatever it craves with the report you entrust to it. When I tapped these decisions into Graphite Docs they received a higher level of protection.
I could still access and revise my certificate from different computers, and even invite collaborators, because it was backed up online as I labored. But the data was stored in an encrypted pattern, on a system of computers unable to read my data. The encryption keys needed to unscramble it never left my own maneuvers, meaning that unlike with most of the on-line service I use, my data was exclusively under my control.