After my previous story about Jeremy and his friends, I got an angry call from Paulo, another fictitious person that I talk to from time to time. Paulo was angry with me because, as he put it, I took a neutral stand towards those who promote recentralization which could be understood that I approve it. According to Paul, very smart people promoted recentralization as if it was decentralization, which begs an inquiry about their reasons. Ignorance can be ruled out immediately because those people mentioned real decentralized social networks, and talked about the Fediverse in interviews last year, therefore they know about alternative decentralized social networks, so why would they promote recentralized networks instead.
This call brought back to me some old memories from 2007-2008 when some young web 2.0 enthusiasts religiously promoted specific services although they had nothing to do with the companies that run these services. They acted as free (unpaid) brand ambassadors for Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and others positioning these brands as Free Speech solutions or tools for the young generations to bypass information censorship and build a new free web where every person is a citizen journalist. Those early adopters played a role in the success of some of the most notorious centralized information agencies (CIAs) of our time.
Although I sometimes talk to fictitious people, I have not yet invented a time traveling fictitious person, which means I have no idea about the future of those recentralized solutions. I know that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In this case, the past is not very old, and I can remember it and recount incidents, names, dates and key events from the early days of social networks.
Remembering the past, and looking at the technology of some recentralized solutions can give me some ideas about what could possibly happen with those tech tools.
The enemy of your enemy is your other enemy
If you hate a certain network for purging you, and you go to its competitor, what would you do when the competitor purges you again? Go to another competitor? Well, those who create networks will keep creating competing networks for you to join, and those networks will be strategically positioned to meet your needs before each purge, so that the purge can be monetized, and those who are caught in the collective remain assimilated.
What if you purge those who purged you? Can you purge back? Can you purge the old paradigm and adopt a new one? Can you Exit and Build as Derrick Broze put it? That is a question for everybody. The answer will vary depending on the context.
Do not accept a free lunch
When the American media started marketing some agents of the American regime as “enemies of the state”, Larken Rose, author of "The most dangerous superstition", had to go public to distinguish a real enemy of democracy, like himself, from those that the media promoted.
How did Larken go public? Not on his personal site Larkenrose.com, not on his Candles in the dark website, but on his Odysee channel. That is an interesting choice for me, and it becomes more interesting when I look at Larken’s claims in LBRY credit, which is about 35K as of now.
Decentralized networks like PeerTube, Friendica, Mastodon, Gnu Social and others do not pay you for creating and watching videos, or when people watch your videos. In fact, in many cases you have to contribute to these networks, and sometimes share the heavy costs of running a node.
The revolution will not be odyseed.
James Corbett said in 2015:
“It is so important for us to remember that all of this, everything that we take for granted right now on the Internet is just the flick of a switch away from being taken away, and we shouldn’t take this stuff for granted.”
I would like to echo James’s statement right now. No recentralized or decentralized network should be taken for granted. Everything can be switched away and the results can be devastating if you are not prepared.
When you are next on the blacklist, and they come for you, you need to be capable of self preservation on the physical and the digital levels. You need to remember that your home servers and backup drives will be seized, your offsite backup will be erased, your online content will be purged from every index. Besides, If you are somebody like Julian Assange, Ross Ulbricht, Artem Vaulin, Gotfrid Svartholm, and some very few people who tried to shoot arrows at the heart of the collective paradigm, you need to take your physical security very seriously.
The conspiracy theorist of conspiracy theorists
And here I find myself in a spot where “conspiracy theorists” might easily dismiss my views as “Outlandish conspiracy theories” for theorizing that a US based VC backed company like Odysee will become the next YouTube to conspiracy theorists. But wait, Isn’t that what Odysee’s CEO explicitly says? Does he advocate freedom or control, Does he sell his product as a freedom tool or as a cool and easy to use YouTube successor?
Those who want a new YouTube experience will love Odysee products, and those who do not want to repeat the YouTube experience will look for something other than recentralization, and might possibly stumble upon one of the many free and open source decentralized solution that no body is promoting. They will need to search hard to find it and it will be harder for them to start using it. A very few of them will succeed in exiting the collective and building a real decentralized network, while the other will look at them like the “normies” now look at “conspiracy theorists.”
Building value and having impact.
The main difference between somebody who identifies as a Developer (like me) and activists like Paulo is that developers always want to build or add more value, while activists focus on having impact. I prefer to build value, and to work with activists on making a positive impact on our lives. I also feel hurt when I see people losing value, or about to lose value and suffer a negative impact on their lives.
Many activists I follow online are amazed by the normal people’s assimilation in the COVID collective. Those activists want to do something and make an impact, they want to enlighten or show the truth to their loved ones and to their communities, and they feel sad when they realize that they can not make an immediate impact.
Me too, I feel sad when I see how people react to the current “flick of a switch”, and the solutions that are being presented to address the upcoming “flick of a switch”. I guess there is a small activist inside me, and Paulo is not so fictitious after all.