back to article It's time to decentralize the internet, again: What was distributed is now centralized by Google, Facebook, etc

Anyone who studies internet technology quickly learns about the importance of distributed algorithms to its design and operation. Routing protocols are an obvious example of such algorithms. I remember learning how link-state routing worked and appreciating the elegance of the approach: each router telling its neighbors about …

  1. tip pc Silver badge
    Pint

    The Lava Lamp that is the internet

    I like to think of the internet giants as the floating bits in a lava lamp.

    Bits join other bits and rise then fall when they get too big, splitting and others joining those bits and rising etc etc.

  2. karlkarl Silver badge

    People centralize on Google and Facebook but that is their choice. If the future of web was made completely distributed, those same users would still centralize on Google and Facebook. In many ways I don't think the tech is at fault, it is peoples... weirdness.

    Myself, with adblocks and a lack of interest in things like Facebook, the internet is fairly decentralized to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Facebook

      Facebook relies on two people aspects as central to it's business model:

      1. People are lazy

      2. Half the population is below average.*

      You can make a lot of money on the large number of people that both of those aspects apply.

      *At 7B people on the planet, the distinction between the average and the median is negligible.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Facebook

        "Facebook relies on two people aspects as central to it's business model"

        I don't disagree, but I think there's a third aspect that "social media" companies rely on for their business model, and that's FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out.

        All of those notifications, all of those likes vs dislikes, all of the rantings and ravings of lunatics spewing bile across the world. All of the click-happy people who just have to log back on, I just need to see what someone said about that thing that I posted yesterday/today/an hour ago/five minutes ago...

        To a greater or lesser degree, we're probably all a little guilty of it. I know I am, particularly here at El Reg. I frequently go back over recent comments I've made to see if anyone has replied to something I've posted.

        However, your mileage may vary according to the platform - I certainly don't use the likes of faecesbook, but I do use Reddit and YouTube, mainly for the lulz.

        And the cats.

        Not sure where this post is heading, so I'll leave it here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Facebook

          Well, whatever you want to say about Zuck, not only is he the son of a psychologist, he also studied it and uses that against you - his desire is to have everyone wrapped up in his business and (field day for psychologists) appears to have a sociopath's absense of ethics and morals to make that happen.

          There are two trends here. Trend one is indeed the attempt to establish companies as gateways, as troll-equipped bridges where you have to pay a tithe to use what is essentially normally freely offered. In the cause of both Google and FB, the price is everything about you (which I assume will also be used against you if you ever object to the tithe).

          Trend two is the gradual erosion of the one other fundamental part of the Net: interoperability. Just see how much effort is put in to mandate what you use to access resources, open standards be damned. This is where we find the other monopolist desperate to hang on to its empire, bought with bribes, subversion and in every aspect the example that Google now tries to follow: Microsoft.

          A first hint was given by the subversion of the Kerberos standard - they found a way to fudge it, but still call it Kerberos so they could ride its reputation. No, not Netscape - that was less about interoperability as hanging on to the desktop in general..

          We've had lots of examples since, like Government gateways that gave access to things based on Open Standards, but you first needed Microsoft to get you past that barrier.

          When I started to work on the Net, it was the first time you could actually couple very diverse things together and exchange data, and the sheer value that that unleashed was of course painful for those who were seeking to lock that data into paid-for silos. Especially that document standard was painful, and that subversion is STILL going on, a couple of decades later.

          Be aware of that erosion too - it's much less in the spotlight but its happening nevertheless.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Facebook

            Open Standards and interoperability? This may be of interest then.

            Now Open Document is an EU standard, maybe it's time to mandate caldav and carddav next..

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Facebook

          "Not sure where this post is heading"

          That seems to be a (if not THE) over-riding meme on most social media. People babbling about things that have no goal, no meaning, and in fact no real reason for existence. And then getting applauded for it, so they do more of the same. Lather, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

          Try blocking "thumbs" here on ElReg for a week (or permanently). It's liberating.

          1. Kane Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Facebook

            "That seems to be a (if not THE) over-riding meme on most social media. People babbling about things that have no goal, no meaning, and in fact no real reason for existence. And then getting applauded for it, so they do more of the same. Lather, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

            Try blocking "thumbs" here on ElReg for a week (or permanently). It's liberating."

            Absolutely agree, for the most part. However I would argue that the goal is that age old human need to reach out. We are, after all, a social species (Mark Zuckerberg notwithstanding) and that in itself is a powerful motivator.

            I know I do it a lot around here, but I'll lead off with a Pterry quote:

            "Individuals aren't naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian motion of society, which is a mechanism by which human beings constantly remind one another that they are...well...human beings."

            - Men At Arms

            Also, I thumbed up your post. I don't need liberating, I need validation.

        3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: Facebook

          "To a greater or lesser degree, we're probably all a little guilty of it. I know I am, particularly here at El Reg. I frequently go back over recent comments I've made to see if anyone has replied to something I've posted."

          That's just human nature. The desire to engage other people in a conversation on some topic of mutual interest. Instead of a bunch of crazy people, each on their own street corner soap box. Screaming their words of wisdom at the passers-by. Bloggers I think we call them now.

    2. The obvious

      > People centralize on Google and Facebook but that is their choice.

      I'd agree for Facebook, but not for Google.

      If I really was interested in cutting off FB then no problem, one firewall rule blocking their ASN, and mission accomplished.

      Try doing that with the all-seeing googly-eye... your life will become difficult, fast.

      Need to pay HMRC? You can't

      Need to book a PCR test? Nope

      Want to donate to your favoured political party? It'll have to be offline.

      Want to just use the web and go about your daily business? Computer says 'no'.

    3. normal1

      True randomness initiates order spontaneously.

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Windows

    Shepherds and sheep

    Whether they are sheep or people, a flock tends to flock. In the early days of the internet they flocked to BBSs, Usenet, Geocities, MySpace, etc.

    Then came the shepherds. Yahoo was the biggest early one but Google and Apple and Facebook perfected the 'join us and all will be well' mantra.

    DARPA's driving goal was to create a system for military communication that could survive a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Decentralization was an obvious requirement. But the average person, for various reasons, prefers some degree of organization and the more people opt for a particular organizational shepherd, the more others will follow them.

    That's me in the corner mumbling "What to do? What to do?"

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Shepherds and sheep

      "DARPA's driving goal was to create a system for military communication that could survive a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union."

      Unfortunately, this is a common myth. Some of the things invented while getting the internet working were used in such systems, but that wasn't the purpose of the network. Its decentralized nature was due to necessity (things breaking a lot) and convenience (you could add more stuff just by complying with the protocols).

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Shepherds and sheep

      "DARPA's driving goal was to create a system for military communication that could survive a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union."

      Oft repeated, but simply not true. The networks that were designed to survive nuclear attack included the "Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network", or MEECN, and the prior "Survivable Low Frequency Communications System" or SLFCS, Besides, if you use an ounce of common sense, it only stands to reason ... no military would design a command and control system that inherently wasn't securable, and the Internet was not then, and still isn't securable.

      In The Beginning, the first two nodes of what became TehIntraWebTubes were at SRI and UCLA, conceived, designed, implemented and run by students and professors. (There were two more being built concurrently, at Berkeley and Utah.) But with no Pentagon oversight, input or anything else "intellectual". Money, yes. Oversight, no.

      Boiling it down to basics, the (D)ARPANET was just a research network designed to research networking. The "survives nukes" myth came about much later ... The cold, sad reality is that the only reason it was built to be resilient is because the available hardware was really, really flaky.

      1. ST Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Shepherds and sheep

        > [ ... ] ARPANET was just a research network designed to research networking.

        That is simply not true. Repeating a falsehood does not increase its truth value at each iteration.

        Dr. Stephen J. Lukasik was Director of DARPA from 1967 through 1974. He funded most of the ARPANET research. This is what he had to say on this subject:

        The goal was to exploit new computer technologies to meet the needs of military command and control against nuclear threats, achieve survivable control of US nuclear forces, and improve military tactical and management decision making.

        The Internet Society subsequently decided to engage in revisionist history, to match their tree-hugging narrative. According to them, ARPANET was funded and built so we can share cat pictures.

        References:

        Why The ARPANET Was Built - by Dr. Stephen J. Lukasik - IEEE Xplore - March 2010.

        ARPANET Debate on Design Goals - Wikipedia

        Dr. Stephen J. Lukasik - Wikipedia

        The Lukasik quote I referenced above is from his IEEE Xplore article.

        Something tells me that the guy who wrote most of the checks funding ARPANET research and development had a pretty good idea what he wrote those checks for.

        Neither ARPA nor DARPA have ever funded research projects for anything other than military use and purposes. They are not the peaceful, tree-hugging types.

        1. NoneSuch Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Shepherds and sheep

          My word. A well structured rebuttal with sourced facts in support.

          Careful sir, you'll never get a job on Fox News with that crazy attitude. :-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Shepherds and sheep

            Fox News, heck. What's he doing on the Internet with that approach!?

          2. SammyB

            Re: Shepherds and sheep

            liked your comment until you brought in your political bias. This is a tech forum, please leave the politics out. Thanks.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Shepherds and sheep

          Of course the needs of the military were one of the primary considerations, but that does not mean that it was intended for still being there after nuclear attack. The network that was created was way too fragile for that purpose. A lot of it ended up running across completely standard phone lines, and if those were expected to still be functioning, they could have used the phone network as well. Research into networking technologies so they can later be used in something critical was the intent and the result.

          The military built systems for survivability, and those designed later used some of the technologies first proved, tested, and enhanced by the research they funded. The military got several large benefits from that research. That is also what Dr. Lukasik said. It is therefore still incorrect to say that the proto-internet was designed to be online after a nuclear attack. It was designed to be a proof of concept and it succeeded in that goal.

          1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            Re: Shepherds and sheep

            The acid test will be whether the Internet survives Zuckerberg. Nukes are easy.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Shepherds and sheep

          Lukasik was a physicist brought into (D)ARPA to monitor nuclear tests in 1966, both for our own use and to keep an eye on the various test bans that were cropping up in the late '60s and early '70s. Note that he got to (D)ARPA quite some time AFTER the (D)ARPANet project started, and didn't become even remotely connected to it until he was promoted to Director of (D)ARPA in 1971 ... So no, he had nothing to do with the early (D)ARPAnet. Your entire premise is incorrect, regardless of what he might claim in his self-serving memoir. The timing completely puts paid to the concept.

          Besides, as one of the Wiki pages you provide points out:

          According to Charles Herzfeld, ARPA Director (1965–1967):

          "The ARPANET was not started to create a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, as many now claim. To build such a system was, clearly, a major military need, but it was not ARPA's mission to do this; in fact, we would have been severely criticized had we tried. Rather, the ARPANET came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country, and that many research investigators, who should have access to them, were geographically separated from them"

          Note that The Internet Society agrees with Herzfeld, as do my memories of being in the trenches at the time.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Bullshit article premise

    These are just large sites. They're not the internet, and the internet is not "centralized" around them.

    Google's a big search engine because it's superseded all the crap ones before it, and because Bing, etc just aren't very good.

    If Google went bankrupt tomorrow (which isn't going to happen) then people would drop back to Bing and whatever else, until someone else replicated Google's success.

    It's the same with Amazon and Facebook. They're big and popular because they happen to be the "best" at what they do at the moment, where "best' is defined as "not as shitty as the rest" -- if people get pissed off with Amazon's customer service, treatment of their employees, or bogus reviews, or what-have-you, then they'll leave and go somewhere better, if that exists.

    For example, I use Amazon a lot as a "shopping search engine" then I find the actual manufacturer/vendor and buy from them.

    A lot of the time I can't do that because the manufacturer has decided they don't want to actually sell their stuff "to the little people" and tries to pawn me off on some crappy distributor, and other times they just don't have a working site, in which case I fall back to Amazon.

    This is why Amazon makes lots of money, because other people are incompetent at selling their stuff. They put all sorts of obstacles in the way of you giving them money.

    They're big and they supply an important service, but that doesn't make them "the internet"

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      Uhmmm... no. Just, no.

      >> Google's a big search engine because it's superseded all the crap ones

      Once upon a time, Google was a great search engine. That made the name known, but those days are long gone.

      If Google went bankrupt tomorrow, as you put it, and Google Analytics, Tensor Flow, Android, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, G Suite, et al went down with it, much of the web, as people use it today would be rendered unusable.

      With time something else would replace it. Perhaps even something better. But right now Google products are encroached very deeply in the way Web works today.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        I don't use any of that shit. If it all disappeared tomorrow, it would make precisely zero difference to me.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          You might think that, but if it all stopped working today, you'd find out how much of what you use regularly has that sort of stuff behind the scenes.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Bullshit article premise

            If they all stopped working today, I seriously doubt I'd notice ... other than perhaps ElReg being down for a bit. And when ElReg came back up and explained why the wailing and gnashing of teeth world-wide, I'd party.

            1. The obvious

              Re: Bullshit article premise

              > If they all stopped working today, I seriously doubt I'd notice

              Put your money where your mouth is Jake... Block their ASNs at your firewall and on your mobile devices, and tell us all how long you last.

              1. Spiz

                Re: Bullshit article premise

                To be fair I have a rule in my firewall doing exactly this, and it's enabled at the moment along with FB's.

                Results are hit-and-miss, but they're certainly not catastrophic. ElReg, BBC News, Amazon, Reddit, microsoft.com, my online accounts software - all work without any issue whatsoever. Some sites balk a little to start with while they (I presume) try and contact the mothership but will load pretty quickly after that.

                I have seen some sites which completely fail to render but they've not been of such importance that I can't go else where, but then maybe my list of frequented sites isn't everyone's. I certainly don't use any of Google's services (knowingly) and therefore don't have an issue with them being blocked.

                The only (slightly unrelated) issue I have is when I want to use the Quest 2, but then I have a bespoke app on my phone where I can tell the router to unblock FB with one tap and block it again with another, at the same time routing them through a VPN.

        2. rjsmall

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          You may think you don't use any of these services but if you take a read through this article (https://gizmodo.com/i-cut-the-big-five-tech-giants-from-my-life-it-was-hel-1831304194) you'll find that they are hard to escape from.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          How about every site you log in to that uses recaptcha?

          That's Google, tracking you.

          Try blocking it and see how productive you are.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        Android and Chrome would just fall back on their open source forks/ancestors. Drive would be an annoying loss, not because other cloud storage providers are not available, but because I suspect most people only keep their data in one such basket. The Gmail /service/ is hardly irreplaceable, though again I suppose it depends on your backup regime.

        All considered, the pain of losing Google would be felt almost entirely by people who were depending on it for an essential service but never thought to pay for it, let alone hedge their bets. My sympathy is limited.

        1. bigtimehustler

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          They could be paying Google for that service, oh clever one. Do they get your sympathy then? Paid for or not, if a a company goes brankrupt, good luck getting your data out of them. I presume you are paying for two services? When for redundancy reasons only, two free ones would be just as good.

        2. The obvious

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          I think that's where so many fall down. They just don't see the indirect reliance, even on services they pay for, that's where they really get you.

          Look again at the things you *have* to do and the things that those suppliers rely on. For example, need to book a PCR test, or file your taxes? They rely on google services and they simply won't work if you have google blocked.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bullshit article premise

            How does filing a self assessment in the UK depend on google? Only way I can think of is if they are hosted in google cloud, that can "easily" "just" be shifted to another hosting / cloud environment. I don't login via verify or whatever they looked at introducing, I use my account number that existed before they even started that crap.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bullshit article premise

              There's a full email domain inside HMRC that actually uses Google. Yes, inside the place with exactly the sort of data you would not want to be shared.

              Just in case you thought FIVE EYES was dead..

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        Analytics - would make no difference to users, oonly to site owners, and even to them it's just a service, not essential.

        TensorFlow - even less essential.

        Android and Chrome would continue to work just fine, modulo some usability features. Development would presumably stop, but people would have plenty of time to fall back on alternatives.

        Gmail is an email provider. Pretty sure there are more of those out there.

        G Suite and Drive would certainly be a major inconvenience (and cost) for those who rely on them, but it's hardly a matter of losing the Internet.

        Google is a service provider, nothing more. Of course its sudden loss would be felt by many people. is this some kind of architectural failure?

    2. Yes Me Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Bullshit comment

      The Internet is indeed still highly decentralised at layer 3, i.e. the IP layer. But Larry and Bruce have been round the block a few times, and they are quite correct that the applications and services (what we used to call layer 7) are badly concentrated on a small number of very big and greedy service providers, apparently with even less of a sense of their moral obligations to humanity than Fox News (and that's saying a lot).

    3. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      > Amazon and Facebook. They're big and popular because they happen to be the "best"

      Where "best" is another word for popular. They are popular because they are popular. Just as celebrities are famous for ... being famous.

      Success breeds success. The bigger an internet site is, the more useful it is to potential users and so they are attracted to it.

      But what the internet really needs to do is drag control of its top level away from the USA. Properly distribute DNS and make ICANN an international organisation.

      The other big thing is to greatly improve resilience against improperly formed changes. So that an error cannot "mistakenly" cause large parts of the internet to be re-routed somewhere.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        Give control of the internet to China, Russia and a cartel of Muslim countries? No.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          That's not what decentralise means. Taking control away from the US does not imply giving it to someone else.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          Cartel of Muslim countries? Have you taken a break from watching GBeebies?

        3. Plest Bronze badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          "China, Russia and a cartel of Muslim countries"

          Holy crap Enoch, you and Nick Griffin done there? I can't decide if you're very, very stupid or just very, very stupid!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      Now back in the real world for a lot of non-techies that I know, the internet stops at Facebook. If you tell them that the information they need is on a website they’ll baulk at the idea that there is a world beyond Facebook, Twitter etc. It’s frustrating but they’ve bought into the Facebook myth, that has created a locked in eco system that isn’t available to non-Facebook people, where as the original goal of the internet, and the World Wide Web was to easily disseminate information.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        And this is exactly what Facebook want to do, create their version of "The Internet" that they have total control over because it will be "better".

        This view rather goes against what the article is suggesting and I fear that in the normal way of money being king, a Facebook Internet is entirely possible.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          The Facebook Internet

          This is an interesting point.

          When I was out in darkest Peru on a business trip I found that you could get a local PAYG SIM card essentially for free, and with no credit, you could still access facebook.

          As an experiment I created a facebook account (if you're interested it's dada.tata.520357 and the photo is of my foot on the hotel balcony while swigging a beer). This account is totally facebookian, using their paid for network.

          Unfortunately, FB is all you could access, all other websites being blocked under the free data deal.

          P.S. Ironically, I was also in the Amazon basin at the time!!!

    5. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      This is why Amazon makes lots of money, because other people are incompetent at selling their stuff. They put all sorts of obstacles in the way of you giving them money.

      That is only a small part of it.

      If all Amazon did was act as a well oiled online market hall (or shopping centre, or mall for our US friends), then that would be OK. But it's more like Amazon being the owners of the only market hall in your town - if you want to sell in your town, then you have to be in the market hall that people in your town go to. So far, not a problem.

      Where it becomes a problem is that they not only own the market hall, they have their own stall. Again, not automatically a problem.

      But they also require that if you sell in their market hall, you must use exclusively their systems so that they can see who your customers are, what you sell, and how much you sell it for. No, is there anyone who can't see a problem with one vendor having access to all the sales information for all of it's competitors ?

      So the situation with Amazon is that it has visibility of what everyone else sells, how much for, and to whom. They can let others bring new products to market, and based on real data (not having to do their own research) decide whether it's something they can profit from - and if they do decide they can profit, they immediately know who is buying it and for how much, so can set predatory pricing. And of course, they are in a position to push their own offerings up the search rankings and thsu ensure that their offerings are seen first.

      In short, Amazon are in a position where they have an unfair advantage over all the independents using their site, and that allows them to use predatory tactics to ensure that no-one else can be "too successful". And this is brought about because they are both the market hall operator and a stall holder in their own right - and have no isolation to prevent the stall holder part having an unfair advantage from seeing all the data from the other stall holders.

      Amazon's size would be of significantly less a problem if they didn't have this duality - if they either didn't have their own stall in the market, or if their stall holder operation was properly separate from the market hall operations. But properly ensuring such a separation is a difficult task at the best of times - when you have an organisation that's as happy to sail close to the wind (if not past it) regarding legal obligations, then it would be near impossible to enforce.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        Bullshit counter-argument.

        You are correct in that Amazon is "Meadowhall", but you don't have to have a shop in Meadowhall in order to sell to customers. You can have a shop in Metroland, or in White Rose Centre, or even use your own effort and have a shop on Castle Street or Catherdral Row or Chapel Walk or Bowgate in an ordinary non-shopping-centre shop. Don't like the conglomerate provided-facilities conglomerate outlets? You don't have to use them, use a non-conglomerate outlet. Complaining about the conglomerate outlets and not then using something else is just sheer lazyness.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          "Complaining about the conglomerate outlets and not then using something else is just sheer lazyness."

          Unless the only things the non-conglomerates are attracting are crickets. Unless you have something that can draw customers above and beyond what the conglomerates can offer, you're essentially missing out. At this point, it's less laziness and more surrendering to the guerillas controlling the only good well in the area.

        2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Bullshit article premise

          You don't have to use them, use a non-conglomerate outlet.

          And here we see another area where you have to admit that Amazon spotted an opportunity and went for it.

          As a shopper, people are now used to going to the larger places, where there's parking, and lots of shops all together. Sure, they can still go to the high street - struggle to park miles from where they want to be, and trudge in the rain from one shop to another until they find what they want.

          But many, much to the detriment of the high street, realised that they can drive a few miles out of town, park easily, and spend the day in the dry with everything they could want for sale.

          So as a seller, you have a choice. You can stay on the high street and hope that enough people will brave the poor parking, and the weather, and ... and shop with you. Or you can go and open up in the shopping centre where many of your customers have gone. The reality now is that if you aren't on Amazon and eBay then it doesn't matter how good your (online) shop is, you will be missing out on a lot of potential customers.

          So you have to pay to built your own systems to sell to fewer customers; or you can pay to use systems built by someone with massive economies of scale to sell to more customers. But apart from anything else, if you choose the latter, then your landlord is also your competitor and is helping himself to all your sales data to help them compete effectively with you.

          Apart from prohibiting the combination of "being the landlord" and "competing with your tenants"; I'm not sure how anyone could put the "massive outfit outcompetes anything smaller" genie back in the bottle.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Bullshit article premise

        Whatever. I have never, not once, used amazon[0] to purchase anything (I no longer even shop at Whole Foods). And yet somehow I seem to have absolutely zero issues swapping money for any and all the goods and services that I need or want.

        [0] It goes further ... I have never purchased anything online. Ever. And I'm not going to start any time soon, either. Far too much room for error ... or outright graft. And that's to say nothing of the huge privacy issues involved.

    6. marcellothearcane
      Facepalm

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      Did you know that 70 cents from every dollar earned by Amazon comes from their web services?

      The shopping part is just a fun side project.

      And before you say you don't use it, I guarantee that a lot more sites and people than you would think do use AWS.

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Bullshit article premise

      These are just large sites. They're not the internet, and the internet is not "centralized" around them.

      * Google services are often integrated into a A LOT of web sites, from gummint sites using ReCAPTCHA, to 'analytics' and "log in with your google ID" that I see way too often, everywhere.

      * Amazon AWS is used by many for web stuff, and Amazon marketplace includes many businesses I often deal with directly.

      * Fa[e]ceB[an,ook], unfortunately, has a HUGE PILE of users worldwide, and these people actually use FB for NEWS and other information. It means their censors can screen out what they do not like and do not want their users to see. And too many business managers/owners think that using their services helps them.

      * Google search prioritizes things in sometimes GROSSLY UNFAIR ways. Use a different search to see what they had [allegedly] been doing to breitbart.com for example...

      * GDPR and all of the excuses why these companies can not apparently comply with it.

      When you look at the overall market share, and observe that the companies who have it are not only in a posiition to censor and filter and cancel, they are apparently DOING THAT VERY THING, and many of us regular people have been complaining about it, LOUDLY, and then nothing gets done about it. We are at their mercy. And they are AWARE of it.

      From the article: central platforms can suddenly change policies to shift users away from the content being provided by a creator

      This is another way of saying 'Cancel Culture'

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google ISN’T the Internet!!?

    That will be big news to many!

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    IPv6

    This comes back to needing IPv6 working. Hosting providers are hoarding IPv4 addresses while doing what they can to assure people that IPv6 is irrelevant. IPv6 enables complete decentralization - mail, content hosting, social feeds, direct messaging, video chat, photo albums, and pretty much everything can be on a low cost home computer

    I'd write the software to bind it all together if not for the one problem: The Internet is broken. Everyone is behind IPv4 NAT and/or a half-assed IPv6 router. I run my own server and the one technical bit that can't be automated is getting IPv6 working on home Internet. 1990's hero Sonic.net never modernized and couldn't be bothered. Comcast Business and AT&T fiber need custome router configuration with custom bug work-arounds. Then there are IoT junklets supporting IPv6 with zero security.

    Fix the Internet then we can start dismantling the content monoliths.

    1. Mr. Flibble

      Re: IPv6

      You can have IPv6 if you choose a non-shit ISP.

      Until recently you could also have a a range of static IPs, and unless again, you use a shit ISP that uses carrier-grade NAT, then you can also request a static IP. Even ISP-provided routers allow you to do either port forwarding, and/or a default IP to forward on to a specific machine as a "DMZ".

      Whilst hoarding IPv4 addresses is shitty - a previous company I worked at up to 2017 had a /16, and only used < 50 IPs.

      The number of national ISPs that will give you working IPv6 (even mine had non-working DNS servers until I told them about it), whilst small, is >0, pick one if you're bothered.

      However, I have just realised you're probably in the US, so maybe the situation is crapper than the UK....

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: IPv6

        Browsing the web via IPv6 works fine. Incoming connections are harder.

        It's usually some combination of allowing incoming connections then configuring the firewall with custom rules. Allowing all inbound IPv6 traffic was OK for a while, but now IoT junk is gaining IPv6 support without being hardened against exposure. You also have to sort out how to keep the IPv6 addresses stable so the firewall rules don't need to be updated every few days. On some routers that's a DHCP checkbox. Others have non-configurable IPv6 DHCP so the clients need manual configuration. Take all of that and sprinkle liberally with bugs because ISPs will claim that they don't officially support inbound connections. It's not uncommon to see firewall rule syntax errors logged for the ISP's hidden configuration.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: IPv6

      "mail, content hosting, social feeds, direct messaging, video chat, photo albums, and pretty much everything can be on a low cost home computer"

      No, that's not going to be your panacea. Because yes, you can put all that on a cheap computer, but you can do that now by forwarding some ports on your IPV4 address but you don't, do you? The problem with that approach is that it requires effort, opens security holes, and has a very large discovery problem. If I want, I can use my ISP connection (it does support IPV6 but even if it didn't) to host a server, attached to DNS so people can find it by address even if the address changes, running the proper firewalls and with hardened services. The average consumer does not know how to set up a webserver, let alone dynamic DNS. They definitely don't know how to secure such things.

      Also, if I did that, I would have to send that new address to all my friends and have them send me their addresses so I could periodically check their sites. If power died, everything would stop working. If you're going to do social media, you would need to create new interfaces so you could aggregate all of the information together. Decentralization would be nice, but there are lots of things that need to happen before we can have it more broadly adopted. IPV6 is not the one stumbling block which holds back an otherwise perfect option.

  7. sreynolds

    You lost me at NFTs

    Seriously, NFTs? Seriously?

    1. Ken G
      Facepalm

      Re: You lost me at NFTs

      You lost me at Blockchain.

      1. Auntie Dix
        Mushroom

        Re: You lost me at NFTs

        One day, the quotation below will reappear, as amended:

        "All your base belong to us."

        All your NFT and blockchain, too.

        With no oversight and no paper records (thanks to "green" morons), good luck in court.

  8. Flightmode

    Kashmir Hill over at Gizmodo made an experiment a couple of years ago where she used bespoke router software to block IP adresses belonging to the five biggest tech giants - Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple - and tried to use the Internet without them. It's an interesting read.

    https://gizmodo.com/life-without-the-tech-giants-1830258056

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: It's an interesting read.

      Halfway through, this came to mind:-

      "I should be in charge," said the brain , "Because I run all the body's systems, so without me nothing would happen."

      "I should be in charge," said the blood , "Because I circulate oxygen all over so without me you'd waste away."

      "I should be in charge," said the stomach," Because I process food and give all of you energy."

      "I should be in charge," said the legs, "because I carry the body wherever it needs to go."

      "I should be in charge," said the eyes, "Because I allow the body to see where it goes."

      "I should be in charge," said the rectum, "Because Im responsible for waste removal."

      All the other body parts laughed at the rectum And insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight. Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, the legs got wobbly, the eyes got watery, and the blood Was toxic. They all decided that the rectum should be the boss

      The Moral of the story? Even though the others do all the work.... The ass hole is usually in charge

    2. jake Silver badge

      "It's an interesting read."

      For value of "interesting" that includes watching a sheep panic when the grass is gone on this side of the fence.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grrrr, DNS

    The giant sucking wound in the ‘resilient internet’ argument is DNS. Not only does it need securing (as in DoH) but in it needs failover too …

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Grrrr, DNS

      Just so 'No to DoH'....at least in the browser.

      All that does is allow the browser to go right around all the edge controls I have in place to keep big tech's garbage off my network. Is it any surprise why Chrome was so quick to adopt it?

      I run DoH on internal DNS server though. No reason for the ISP to see what is going on, and no fear of anything snooping DNS on my private network.

  10. katrinab Silver badge
    Flame

    I was with you until you started mentioning blockchains as a solution

  11. Joe Gurman

    Funny....

    This article by a network professional with decades of experience doesn't mention DNS poisoning, BGP vulnerabilities, DDoS storms, or IP spoofing, all of which were "baked in" from the beginning. Let's face it, TCP/IP was never ready for prime time as protocols for a dependable, worldwide network, and still isn't now, even after some of the holes have been plugged. Content distribution is fairly mundane issue by comparison.

  12. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Holmes

    Out with the old, in with the new

    At the end of the day they are all sitting on port 443 (and possibly some older stuff still on port 80) there are nearly 65 thousand other ports, all it takes is for something better to come along. Just like how Gopher, WAIS, Archie and Veronica were all starting to get big in the early 90's.

    Gopher was partially killed off my University of Minnesota (yep the same University that is ban from Linux Kernel submissions) looking to charge licensing fees for the use of its implementation of the Gopher server and partially killed off by html, early mosaic web browsers included a gopher client! Embrace, extend, and extinguish.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Oatmeal cartoon points to a subscription email service as a way to bypass central gatekeepers of content."

    Email services often have a spam filter that is not necessarily under the end user's control. Any email format that looks like it might be cloned to many people can either end up in your junk mail folder - or be silently discarded. The former on MS 365 includes invoices from several suppliers. What is totally lost is unknown.

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