Excellent talk - and both thought (and action) provoking - so thanks.

Searching and browsing will be huge this decade. Most of us (me included) have become 'fat, dumb and happy' w.r.t examining the right web tools we ought to be using - which in my case is inexcusable considering I spent nigh on quarter of a century selling and influencing in the tech business! Colin's observations about true ownership in nearly all burgeoning web-based activity (e.g. 'crypto') are spot on. Contrarians and deep-dive researchers have had a torrid time last few years trying to navigate through the broth to find what we need - and talks like this do at least start to give us hope. 'Decentralisation' is one of the those words like 'sustainable' and 'inclusive'. It sounds nice, but quite quickly you realise many trotting it out can be of a somewhat manipulative disposition. I am reminded during this interview, of the B.B.C Dimbleby lecture aired in late 2019 (just before the 'build back better' crew burst on stage) and it was Tim Berners Lee. Tim made some excellent observations about where the whole internet was going, but the nugget that really stuck in my mind was his assertion that it was time the individual should (and could) be empowered to create their own digital 'castle' (or words to that effect) and decide for themselves who and what came in/out of that space. Interestingly, I cannot find that lecture on B.B.C i-Player. I have run a couple of searches and it's gone (unless I've goofed - I hope I have goofed). Infrastructure ownership behind the web is actually as interesting to me as the web itself. Data centres are never talked about much. Only journalists (to my knowledge) like Adam Curtis have pulled them into the public domain. The aspects of what, where, how, who and quantity of data is being stored about all of us / what 'us' look/store and care about needs opening up to much more scrutiny and made transparent in the long term. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal was only the absolute tip of the iceberg I suspect? Anyway - sorry about the 'essay' - but this is very interesting topic to me.

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Richard thank you so much for such a considered and informative reply. I'll make Colin aware. Glad you found the interview useful.

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Sep 7, 2022·edited Sep 7, 2022

The lecture I presume you refer to can be found here, top link: https://www.mojeek.com/search?q=tim+berners-lee+dimbleby+lecture but not currently available.

TBL's initiative is one of the genuine attempts to do decentralization transparently and is known as Solid: https://inrupt.com/solid/

As I mentioned in the interview doing decentralization is really hard and can be impractical technically and commercially. Folks have been trying to do it for decades. A notable example is Diaspora; an project to decentralize scial networking started at the time when Facebook was looking like it could become a big problem. I was one of the first set of backers, and later got to know the founders personally. Their story is quite something and with lessons and reminders it's less about the technology and more about the people: https://diasporafoundation.org/

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Thanks Colin. Solid I remember and had a look, but it was at an early stage of development. Diaspora I have heard by name, but knew little about it. Yes - it's VERY much about the people, not the technology. When I read Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs a few years ago - it was like a personal walk down memory lane for me as I was in the I.T hardware industry between 1983 and 2008. The book joined the dots for me on so much - especially the part of the book detailing how Jobs, the energy companies and the telco giants were meeting in California in the early 1980's (when I was still at university) to discuss how to 'penetrate' inside the domestic home. Quarter of a century on - and smart meters began their sinister roll out. With such knowledge as many have acquired over the decades, the fight against excessive centralised control is now the largest battle we face. We have drones in China flying around residential areas telling people to stay put in their apartments every time disease figures 'spike'. We have record numbers of Chinese-made facial surveillance cameras being deployed in the UK. But, the rise of AI coupled with endless personal data capture is perhaps the arena we need to be most wary of. Once you get such technology-backed initiatives such as 'AI courts' - you'll effectively have the statute rather swiftly re-written / re-engineered by Amazon-style 'preferences' frameworks. That is when humanity will be genuinely under huge threat. Not a world I'll feel safe in - that's for certain.

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Agreed. Sadly most commentators and proponents debate over the coming technological singularity; and usually equate that to AGI. It's a broad sweep statement but it seems to me we are already in a sociological singularity. Sucked in notably by personal data fuelled AI and surveillance technology. Can we escape?

Decentralisation cannot do it all, and most efforts are making things worse. It's worth pointing out that there's good and bad AI. Chops to DeepMind for AI protein folding for example. Google obsession in search with AI and collecting personal data to fuel it, and behavioral control is toxic. Behavioral control might sound strong to some, but to those that say that, or can't see what;s happening, we can explain it as optimisation of the business model by a monopoly.

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Great questions from Jeffrey. Here are some references:

1) Free speech is much discussed but less so the vital freedom to seek. This blog post discusses that and includes details of how Google treats medical content and "consensus" as mentioned in the interview: https://blog.mojeek.com/2022/05/freedom-to-seek-matters.html

2) How search engines work; crawling, indexing, ranking and so on as poorly explained verbally but better explained at a high level here: https://blog.mojeek.com/2021/05/no-tracking-search-how-does-it-work.html

3) How Google-Microsoft-Apple together try to gatekeep web search: https://blog.mojeek.com/2022/05/gatekeepers-of-the-western-web.html

4) How we support search diversity: https://blog.mojeek.com/2022/02/search-choices-enable-freedom-to-seek.html

5) How to search part of the web using Mojeek Focus: https://www.mojeek.com/focus/

6) Book: Surveillance Valley - The Secret Military History of the Internet https://surveillancevalley.com/

7) For an informed, up-to-date and independent review of search engines, and some light on why many are not what they claim: https://seirdy.one/posts/2021/03/10/search-engines-with-own-indexes/

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