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      Right, I don’t hear that side of the debate nearly enough. Every time people bring up something about the open web, they seem to mean state-run (cf. sibling threads).

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        I sometimes wonder how feasible a crowdfunded satellite network would be. You’d need to raise a few million to launch low earth satellites. Then you’d have a network that would be completely separate from the current internet. This idea has already been floated as a commercial venture. So, why not take it and turn it into a non-profit network instead.

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          Note that low-earth orbits degrade, so that would mean a couple millions per year. Also, for low orbits you need more satellites for coverage. For higher orbits there is still a question of satellite reliability, and the launch is more expensive too.

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            Yeah it’s definitely not a trivial project. Another question would be how you deal with stuff like DDOS. Another approach could be to use a network of high altitude solar powered blimps. Probably a lot cheaper than satellites in the long run. Something similar to Google project loon.

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              Satellites need to meet the orbital regulations at the moment of launch, blimps need to follow the changing aeronavigation regulations continuously.

              DDoS could be partially mitigated by design, if the system spent some share of time broadcasting everything with some allocation of timeslots between fresh things, ever-popular things and the long tail. The system would stay useful even with effective loss of uplink.

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                If blimps were in the stratosphere, they’d probably be ok in terms of aeronavigation. Presumably, the blimp would have an onboard guidance system that keeps it in a particular area. Now that I think of it, the blimp idea seems much more tractable. You could start with a small number to cover a country, then expand to a continent, and so on.

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                  I think stratosphere is low enough for compliance to matter. Unlike a satellite that is unlikely to deorbit without mostly burning, a blimp failure could drop something heavy in one piece and with high enough velocity to do deadly damage. So you need to prove that you are able to avoid flying directly over densely populated areas.

                  As for growing coverage region-by-region — I am not sure it is compatible with winds.

                  Now that I think of it, satellites are predictable which allows antenna tricks with low enough transmission power; a blimp would not be as predictable, so it would probably have to create more radio spectrum pollution, which would increase the amount of regulations to track (and might involve even more licensing).

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                    Entirely possible, but doesn’t seem like an intractable problem in principle. Certainly would provide a nice alternative to the current infrastructure.

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        Insightful article!

        As private businesses, GOOG, FB, and AMZN don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks.

        Like a public service would? The author seems to think governments should be doing something to “guarantee” our access to these services, but in reality, the goal is the exact opposite.

        The problem here is centralization, and a lack of options. You’d need access to “the Trinet” to get stuff done in the real world, but as the author pointed out, anyone could easily be shut out from the services.

        You do not have a legal right to an account in their servers, and as societies we aren’t demanding for these rights as vehemently as we could, to counter the strategies that tech giants are putting forward.

        It’s not the tech giants’ “strategies” we should worry about.

        Have you seen the new “citizen score” system the Chinese dictatorship is working on: https://www.corbettreport.com/chinese-credit-dutch-points-afghan-ops-new-world-next-week/ ?

        Obviously, access to necessary, but centralized systems/services like “the Trinet” or the banking system can be withdrawn as a punishment for being a bad citizen.

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          don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks.

          Like a public service would?

          The court system, public schools, public defenders, public utilities, the fire department, the national highway system… none of these have any issue being open to all. I’m not sure what you are getting at.

          withdrawn as a punishment for being a bad citizen.

          Isn’t that how it ought to work? If you routinely drive drunk, you aren’t allowed on the highway. As it should be.

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            If you routinely drive drunk, you aren’t allowed on the highway. As it should be.

            The difference between this and a “citizen score” ranking system are not remotely trivial.

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              The situation isn’t any better with Fb, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Your account can be shut down on a whim, and you’ll have no recourse.

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                Yes I agree. While there is a huge difference between drunk driving (likely lethal) and text-driven social networks, societies of control are something very concerning. I’m hoping the “distributed web 3.0” stuff makes this better, but I’m not totally convinced it will yet.

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                  Heavy centralization in recent years is very concerning. I think projects like Mastodon are really important in that regard. I’m really glad to see that it managed to gain some critical mass. It shows that it’s still possible for an open and federated platform to succeed today.

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              If you routinely drive drunk, you aren’t allowed on the highway. As it should be.

              While on the other hand if you routinely criticize either gatekeepers of public discourse or your government you should be allowed avenues to do that. The concern is that the notion of “bad citizen” doesn’t necessarily mean “citizen who’s doing harm through network access”, unlike the drunk driver case.

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                none of these have any issue being open to all. I’m not sure what you are getting at.

                It seems you didn’t look into the linked material.

                Governments want to have absolute power over the masses, 1984-style, and that’s what the “citizen score” systems they are now working on are geared towards.

                It’s not only China being China either. If you look at the material, you’ll see Canada working on their own version. This hits closer to home, right?

                Centralization supports the goal, because if there’s only a handful of alternatives for something you need - or even just one - then it’s easy to make your life exceedingly difficult at the stroke of a button somewhere.

                Imagine your low “citizen score” leading to your bank account getting closed. No other bank will give you an account either, because they all see you’re a naughty little peasant, and the centralized banking system is the only game in town. Now you’re fucked.

                Suppose you’re looking for a job, and the potential employer sees you have a low citizen score. No job for you. The employer doesn’t want to risk his own score by employing a naughty thought-criminal!

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                  The linked material has a post about Canada where the author is very upset that we the readers didn’t listen to him — no supporting evidence. I already know about China doing some China things, but my local DMV is still pretty great last I checked.

                  More importantly: America is an oligarchy run by a moron, we have an impending cultural crisis as our puritanical work-based-ethics get disassembled by automation, and we are driving our SUVs headfirst into an ecological disaster that may start to impact our food supply as early as 2030 (my son will be 13). And all of those merit centralized responses. I’m far more confident in the courts and the ACLU than I am about surviving war, civil unrest, drought and famine. Why don’t you start worrying about any of that instead of whether your credit score will incorporate how many likes you got on instagram?

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                    The linked material has a post about Canada where the author is very upset that we the readers didn’t listen to him — no supporting evidence.

                    It’s like you two intentionally set out to find something, anything in James Corbett’s work you could use to discredit him.

                    You’re probably smart enough to look further though, right? So maybe you already found out that usually everything he talks about is well sourced.

                    America is an oligarchy run by a moron

                    Do you genuinely think Trump is actually in charge? Do you think an actual moron would be able to climb atop the hierarchy of political power?

                    impending cultural crisis as our puritanical work-based-ethics get disassembled by automation, and we are driving our SUVs headfirst into an ecological disaster that may start to impact our food supply

                    For some education on this stuff, you should probably listen to James Corbett.

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                    It’s not only China being China either. If you look at the material, you’ll see Canada working on their own version. This hits closer to home, right?

                    Assuming this is the article you’re referring to, I dare anyone to read it and take anything meaningful away from it.

                    https://www.corbettreport.com/it-begins-canadian-gov-rolls-out-points-to-reward-good-citizens/

                    It’s filled with self-citation and says nothing specifically about how Canada is working on a citizen score. It’s conspiracy theory nonsense.

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                      It’s filled with self-citation and says nothing specifically about how Canada is working on a citizen score

                      Perhaps there’s more information (and sources) to be found behind the “self-citations”?

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                      Who needs government-run citizen scores when the private sector already has credit scores?

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                    Like a public service would? The author seems to think governments should be doing something to “guarantee” our access to these services, but in reality, the goal is the exact opposite.

                    Or, government could step in to guarantee fair opportunities among competing internet businesses, basically preventing a monopoly (trinopoly?) situation.

                    And FWIW, I thought the article was written as a technical analysis only; I didn’t read any political implications in it.

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                      government could step in to guarantee fair opportunities among competing internet businesses

                      An exaggeration to make a point: “The government could step in to make Usain Bolt a little slower”

                      I’m not saying FGOOAMABOOK represents fair competition, but it’s important to see the principles involved. Any problems we have with competition are actually caused by government intervention one way or another.

                      The purpose of forcefully intervening in other people’s economic activities is to benefit some at others’ expense. Whenever Comcast is the only ISP available, it’s because others weren’t allowed to open ISPs there. Imagine how easy it would be to compete with Comcast..

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                        Imagine how easy it would be to compete with Comcast..

                        Why imagine? We can look at the recent events. I have read multiple stories where people said that Comcast started offering better plans in some limited area immediately after Google had announced Google Fiber expansion to the area.

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                          The Usain Bolt metaphor doesn’t quite work because Usain is not the only athlete (monopoly), he’s just the best (or he was, in any case).

                          Any problems we have with competition are actually caused by government intervention one way or another.

                          Sorry, but this seems like a gross generalization. Competitive problems can also happen for totally orthogonal reasons to government intervention. Overall I get you’re point but defending such an extremist position as you are is difficult and, frankly, I’m not convinced.

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                            Overall I get you’re point but defending such an extremist position as you are is difficult and, frankly, I’m not convinced.

                            Feel free to settle for just getting my point then. Note also that calling a position “extremist” doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

                            Competitive problems can also happen for totally orthogonal reasons to government intervention.

                            That seems awfully vague. I’m not convinced.

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                          I thought the article was written as a technical analysis only; I didn’t read any political implications in it.

                          Yes, the original article didn’t bring up the police statey implications that are actually at play here. That’s why I commented.

                          See another response: https://lobste.rs/s/54rvap/web_began_dying_2014_heres_how#c_2a0i3g

                          The government is not your friend. In fact, it’s our greatest enemy.

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                            I think you’re moralizing government a bit much

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                              Nope, not at all.

                              “Citation needed!!!” ? :)

                              Here’s one: https://reason.com/archives/2014/05/15/be-antigovernment-and-proud

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                        So, I guess I need to come to terms with the fact that in 2017 everybody writes using by-lines that generate the most splash. I guess I can’t fault them for that.

                        But I get very skeptical whenever I hear someone use the phrases “dead” or even “dying”.

                        I have a different conclusion - the web is one particular medium that’s well adapted to certain kinds of interactions. Big companies are trying to get beyond that and move into areas that aren’t optimized for that kind of interactivity with home assistants and the like.

                        The web isn’t dying at all. Sure, a few big sites are responsible for most of the traffic, and that’s fine. There still exists an incredibly rich, varied web should you care to look past the big three - this site and others like it are proof of that.

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                          It might be more accurate to say “at risk of dying” given the author makes a few assumptions (net neutrality, trinet), but the worst case scenario described in the article doesn’t sound all that far-fetched to me.

                          Sure, there will always be a small niche of people who will continue to use the web. But I think the author defines “dead” as not collectively relevant. Just like how vinyl has no relevance to modern society despite a niche of people who still collect them.

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                            I started research on making of a search engine for this varied web. It would not index sites serving ads and possibly e-commerce. I would like to also penalize JavaScript use at least as an option. At the beginning I would use Adblock rulesets like the Easy List - if there is a match I do not index the site.

                            I hope that this would remove most crap out there with some minor collateral damage. Also that the index would be small enough that a little fish like me could do it without massive cost or infrastructure.

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                              Do you want to penalize JavaScript use, or do you want to ignore its existence and just index what can be seen with JavaScript totally off? (Of course, some sites can be viewed with JS and CSS off, but not with JS off and CSS on; maybe you do not like that)

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                                I’m not sure.

                                At least penalize - they would have lower ranking. Maybe give user an option to not show them. Probably for the first version not including them at all would be the simplest thing to do. Some later version could attempt to classify used JavaScript.

                                I would like it to index information first and not care much about web apps. I’m wondering if it would make sense to distribute whole index via torrent. Then search could be done locally. But for this too make sense it would have to be in an order of, at most, tens of gigabytes. The problem would be to make updates as small as possible and also to not use prohibitive amount of CPU time.

                                I’m almost totally green in this area.

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                                  I think a nice site is one that you can curl | lynx --dump without suffering. Known-bad ad/tracker networks can be grepped in between, but is checking for JS even worth it? The recommended mode of using the index is with JS completely off anyway (and if content is loaded via JS, the site will get classified as garbage with no useful content — a classification that you need even for zero-JS-carrying sites).

                                  In concrete terms: do you consider indexing Lobste.rs discussions a bad idea?

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                                I know a lot of people who would very much love such a search engine. Let us know if you actually implement this!

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                              OK, so discounting the big three, what do you think the top ten sites should be? Anybody want to make a list? In a perfect world with an ideal internet, what percentage of traffic would the top ten sites get?

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                                I would measure not just percentages, but also the worst part — moves of some independently established online community into the golden cage of top 10. But I agree that the situation is catastrophically centralised.

                                And of course, if we just measure percentages of bytes, Youtube has ruined the Web forever.

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                                  I think the ideal would be within a few orders of magnitude of one over the number of content authors participating in the web. That is to say the ideal is that if someone produces web content they should control the servers it’s hosted on. Obviously not everyone is going to become a sysadmin so there needs to be infrastructural changes to make “buy some webspace and put up a blog” roughly as easy as “turn over all my content to a major blog host” but if we’re talking about ideals then authorial ownership of the means of distribution of content certainly does seem preferable to centralized, mutually exclusive, corporate monoliths having near total control of distribution avenues.