Recent discussions about the future of the internet highlight that many of those deeply involved in its creation are very unhappy about how it has all turned out. They want to start again. And to begin with a distributed infrastructure that refuses any form of centralized control , direct manipulation by state-owned agencies, and exploitation of its users by a handful of BigTech providers. What will this look like? Will they succeed?
In a recent webinar series, the Internet Archive defined the decentralized-web movement as an effort to break apart “all the layers” of the current online experience. It’s helpful to think about this idea in terms of what it opposes: Meta, for example, centralizes messaging, media sharing, data collection, and much else, so users are subject to its content-moderation policies and can’t help but submit their information to its sprawling marketing apparatus. Amazon owns so much of the infrastructure that the internet runs on that you could hardly function without it. The DWeb movement is interested in subverting this status quo through tools that would give individuals greater control over their online identities and information.