Unfounded Fears Of A Decentralized Web

Jessica Maddox for Wired, pens a very weird opinion piece warning of dangers lurking in the wilds of the decentralized web.

There’s a sort of lazy conflation of Web3/crypto shenanigans with just having decentralized, distributed, or federated software that’s somewhat incomprehensible. Worse yet, much of the critique seems to be that decentralization breeds conspiratorial thinking. Somehow rightwing antisemites are lumped in with Mastodon users apparently "claim[ing that] … reporters are malevolently surveilling others".

That last mostly was about Mastodon users not wanting to be seen as little more than fodder for lazy reporters who made their bones trawling Twitter for whatever some random assortment of posters thought about something and calling it a day. It’s hardly "conspiratorial" thinking to feel that journalists might treat Mastodon the way they treated Twitter.

The argument about potential "app fatigue" (the idea that under decentralization people simply would have to have too many accounts) at least seems somewhat understandable, except when you realize that many people on the internet somehow manage to be on email, one or more messaging or chat systems, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Maddox seems to equate decentralization with balkanization, fracturing "the web into walled-off silos"—but that’s actually precisely what mass platforms have done. Each its own island.

Nowhere does Maddox mention that much of the agitation toward decentralization in fact comes with concomitant agitation toward interoperability. If more systems and services were capable of talking amongst each other, "app fatigue" becomes much less of a purported issue.

You could set up wherever you wanted, and access whatever you wanted. Exactly like the original, distributed web. It’s not a conspiracy theory to observe that mass platforms did us wrong. Decentralization and interoperability are about wresting control away from platforms and returning it to people.