Silos are Made for Grain: How Emerging Technology Enables a More Honest Society
Many people identify the emergence of the modern Internet with the creation of the World Wide Web, which occurred in the early 1990s by researchers at CERN. While the Internet was surely not invented then (just ask Al Gore), it is the web that began its mainstream acceptance as an integral part of modern society. Twenty-five years later, we are now on the precipice of an evolution of the Internet just as significant, and in some ways more so — due to the profound impact this evolution will have on society. It is one important piece of the Decentralization Revolution; namely, the dismantling of data silos, which will enable a more fair and open sharing of knowledge and information.
Across the whole planet, Google/YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft (Bing/Yahoo), and a few other foreign large corporations control the sharing of enormous amounts of content, nearly all of which they didn’t create. The people and businesses that create this content often get some share of the revenue, but when looked at in the aggregate, the amount of funds they receive is very small. But significantly more concerning is the manipulation over the content that these businesses perform: demonetization, search results manipulation, “shadow banning”, and a whole load of shady tactics that promote some content and demote or even remove other content. The implications of this are very troubling.
I certainly do not dispute that these platforms have the legal standing to do what they want. I am of the opinion that when you interact with one of their websites, you’re a “guest in their home”, and they can set the rules (within the bounds of the law, of course). However, in an era of “fake news” and extremely divisive politics, platforms that cannot be controlled by any single point of view are needed.
The “town square” of a bygone era has been replaced with these platforms. It’s very powerful: Because of Medium, I can spread this message to anyone on the planet, for free, instantly. The town square is now global. This allows people to collaborate at scales not before possible and to be exposed to many sources of news and information, allowing for more informed people. Ultimately, it is an informed population that is necessary in order to know who we’re voting for, what they stand for, and hold elected officials accountable.
However, the vested interests have no desire to rock the current status quo. These corporations have large lobbying firms under retainer to influence government policies. The government and elected officials also don’t want to be held accountable for doing the bidding of those corporations and special interests.
“Gatekeepers” used to be newspaper publishers or television networks. Increasingly, they are these large content silos. Just today, here was the headline on http://www.drudgereport.com:
The story they reported on is here, about Twitter censoring accounts. Not because they promoted violence or contained obscene materials, but merely because they expressed a conservative viewpoint. Take a look:
UNDERCOVER VIDEO: Twitter Engineers To "Ban a Way of Talking" Through "Shadow Banning," Algorithms…
Steven Pierre, Twitter engineer explains "shadow banning," says "it's going to ban a way of talking" Former Twitter…
This abuse is by no means the only one that exists on the Internet. Besides the massive collection of information that these corporations use to analyze our behavior and deliver targeted advertising, they also manipulate how content on their platform is distributed. Again, it’s probably completely legal. However, it is not healthy for public discourse and a well-informed electorate.
BTRIC is committed to developing solutions that will become profitable businesses to crack the many billion dollar per year market of content created by users. We believe that the silos need to be dismantled, and that people should have control over their own content. We believe that the only content that should be removed from a platform is illegal content (such as child pornography or terrorism). One of our focuses as part of our BTRIC Labs initiative is creating technologies that can be used by businesses in our Project Incubation Program that meet the following important needs:
- Decentralization of user created content: We need a Twitter that can’t shadow ban someone based on their political views. Same for Facebook, YouTube, and the rest.
- Monetization of content: Content creators need more control over how their content is used to support platforms, and ultimately, a greater share of the revenue. Ad networks can be decentralized, spare computing power on content consumer’s devices can be used to compute something of value (be it cryptocurrency mining or a distributed computing project).
- Decentralized search engines: This is the biggie. Google holds an enormous amount of power over the internet. Decentralization of search engines, in which content is indexed at the source and then becomes part of a swarm that is queried, is one of the keys to the future.
There are currently projects that are working on these problems, and BTRIC is focused on partnering with them and helping them scale into businesses that can take on these industry heavyweights. A few to look at is Mastodon, BitChute, and YaCy. These are all completely open-source projects. BTRIC’s role will be to provide them, and/or other projects, business incubation so that they could scale and become a commercial offering that leverages the technology in viable business models. Then we’ll launch those businesses, separating them from BTRIC, which is a non-profit charitable organization.
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With your support, we can make a difference in creating a world that is more open, more honest, more fair, and with more equal distribution of wealth.
Blockchain Technology Research Innovations Corporation (BTRIC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that is devoted to fostering emerging technologies, through business incubation and other initiatives, that decentralize the control structures that have entrenched global systems for centuries.
Through our business incubation program, we identify, foster, research and develop projects that leverage emerging technologies to create a better world. We infuse these projects with best-practices guidance and work with all stakeholders — innovators, engineers, advisors, marketers, partner organizations, and donors — to bring next-generation, “Internet 3.0”, projects to life. When a project has completed the incubation process, it separates from BTRIC and becomes an independent business, ready for investment, growth, and prepared to shatter paradigms.
Our other initiatives focus on promoting women and greater diversity in projects, standardizing regulatory compliance, and facilitating the development of standards that promote the common good of all projects in our space. Our work is released under open licenses, and we invite participation from anyone interested in governance or any other aspect of our work. Our finances, policies, procedures, and activities are fully transparent.
Contributions to BTRIC — monetary, asset, and in-kind — may be tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Consult with a qualified tax advisor for more information.
[Benjamin F. Beideman (@BenOnceAgain on Twitter) is a Founding Trustee and the Executive Director of Blockchain Technology Research Innovations Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization that is devoted to fostering emerging technologies, through business incubation and other initiatives, that decentralize the control structures that have entrenched global systems for centuries. Learn more about BTRIC and support our work at https://www.btric.org.]