The internet has been a decentralized network since its conception. As this network is used to move vast amounts of valuable data, there is an incentive to become a hub for this data.
The ossification of the web into the control of a handful of major hubs is in no way surprising. Any such system will tend towards capture over time via social contracts that provide a disincentive to exit (e.g. social networks). The fundamental gravity of centralization needs to be actively and persistently resisted by applying opposing forces if the web is to stay open.
The web of the 2020s is beginning to show signs of social flux: average, everyday people are beginning to become conscious of the value of their personal data and the role that these technologies play in their society, politics, and daily lives. The past decade has seen new approaches to security, distributed systems, and decentralization.
Software continues its march of abstraction.
  • Increasing abstraction
    • Containers
      • DevOps specialists
      • Kubernetes complexity
      • Challenges estimating billing
    • FaaS / Serverless
      • Still early in its curve
      • Primarily controlled by the major cloud companies
      • Tied to specific implementations
    • Edge
      • Lower latency
      • Flexible
      • Tied to specific providers
    • Wasm Isolates
      • Extremely early, but showing promise
  • Difficult to compete with the rolling weight of the Big Four
  • Lock-in fatigue
  • Data security
  • Self sovereignty
  • Scandals: Snowden, Cambridge Analytica
  • Apple has begun marketing its services as "more secure"

Paradigm Shift

If you don't like what you got Why don't you change it? If your world is all screwed up Rearrange it! ~ Trooper, Raise a Little Hell
  • Content addressing gives us a single unified namespace
    • Portability
    • Location independence
    • Caching
  • Constraints of this system mean that it should be secure-by-default
    • Assume that the pipes are broken
  • Scale independent
    • From single person or IoT device up to large organizations

Core Assumptions


  • People are fundamentally lazy
    • Want to change as little as possible
      • Rolling weight of existing software
      • Familiarity-as-UX
  • We systemically tend towards centralization and capture
  • Periodic paradigm shifts that allow for increased freedom, competition, and efficiency
  • End-users are becoming aware of the dangers of concentrated technological power


  • Decentralized IDs will happen
    • W3C
    • Microsoft
    • BC Government
  • WebAssembly will be available everywhere
  • Content addressing effectively makes data location a non-issue

Core Principles

  • Pragmatism
  • Self-sovereignty
  • Universality
  • Modularity
  • UX and DX (broadly HCI)
  • Convenience

The End of History

The past 60 years have been a progression from bespoke hardware through mainframes, timeshare, hardware ownership, cloud computing, containers, FaaS, and finally, hostless/universal systems.