Jay Graber Profile picture
12 Sep, 13 tweets, 3 min read
I want a widely adopted decentralized identity standard to push user identities down the stack to make room for innovation on top. Thread:
Social networking evolved as an emergent property of the web — Web 2.0. It allowed people to create and consume content easily without building and maintaining their own websites.
Now, the social graph has become so fundamental to our relationship with information that it has begun to subsume the rest. A lot of people explore the web and get news primarily through social apps - they’re a sense-making infrastructure.
However, this social graph, which is so fundamental to our existence, is owned by a few companies and tied to specific interfaces. Your relationships and data are accessible only on their terms, through the interfaces they choose to build.
By decentralizing it, we could take our data and relationships with us when we leave a service, migrating across applications as easily as walking out of one store and into the next.
The social layer that evolved at the top of the stack could move down to a lower level. User identities, which companies currently manage through user accounts, could instead be tied to cryptographic credentials that browsers or secure hardware modules help users manage.
There's a lot of complexity around how to do DIDs and key management in a user-friendly way, but ultimately I think it's possible, and as long as something like a DID becomes a recognized standard, there can be lots of options for how they're used depending on the trust model.
Right now, browser extensions are a hack that let you get around some of the limitations of app silos. @metamask_io manages cryptographic keys and payments - but shouldn't this really be in the browser? @brave is taking a step in the right direction here.
I love the social bookmarking features of the @AREdotNA extension. And with everyone talking about @RoamResearch and sharing their knowledge graphs today, it reminds me of my recurring fantasy of truly social web browsing and researching -
To be able to access my social graph's public bookmarks and see their commentary across any piece of content across the web. I thought about building a browser extension that pulls data from Twitter to show who shared the link or discussed the content you're viewing and so on...
But I don't really want to Oauth with Twitter, or have a Roam extension, or whatever. I want an identity that I control, that links to other identities in a social graph I control, and have applications do all sorts of cool things for me without owning my relationships or data.
"What happens to business models?" Right now apps build a moat around their users and data. With data open and commoditized, curation becomes more valuable. All sorts of new ways to link and present previously inaccessible data across the web would emerge.
Google search is built on a decentralized protocol 👀
We might unsilo the web, then consolidate at a new layer - perhaps these things are cyclical - but the point isn't to insist on certain network architectures, it's to unlock more knowledge and social sense-making abilities.

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More from @arcalinea

13 Sep
“How a great power falls apart: Decline is invisible from the inside” This article covers the work of Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik, who, uniquely among his peers, recognized the system was headed for self-destruction. 🧵
Countries decay only in retrospect. The “comfort cult” is seductive. As a result, when a terminal crisis comes, it is likely to be unexpected, confusing, and catastrophic, with the causes so seemingly trivial... that no one can quite believe it has come to this.
A blueprint for analytic alienation: start with the most unlikely outcome you can fathom and then work backward from the what-if to the here’s-why. The point is to jolt oneself out of the assumption of linear change.
Read 14 tweets
23 Jan
What books have you read that nobody in your circle has read?

What books haven't you read that everyone in your circle has read?
1. I read a book last year called "Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior", and haven't talked to anyone else who's read it.

2. I haven't read Bad Blood or any Nassim Taleb although I've at least skimmed a lot of other Silicon Valley staples.
A few other fascinating and obscure books:

The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages - Norman Cohn
Q - Luther Blisset
Valis - Phillip K Dick
Not of Woman Born - edited by Constance Ash
Read 4 tweets
17 Dec 19
Ok. 1 like = 1 opinion on decentralization. Technical, philosophical, political.

1. The differences in philosophy and terminology between decentralized, federated, and distributed systems are one of those turf wars you might not hear about from the outside. I’m just going to use “decentralization” as a catch-all.
2. The main advantages decentralized tech can offer are privacy, autonomy, censorship resistance, and offline connectivity (in some cases).
Read 51 tweets
14 Sep 18
Read some great science fiction this year. Tiny takeaways thread:
Daemon & Freedom by @itsDanielSuarez - What is freedom if humans and societies are just systems with incentive structures that can be gamed? How powerful could DAOs become...?
The Three-Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin - If the vast universe is a Nietzchean struggle for survival, at what scale do human values matter? Deeply Chinese pragmatic nihilism. Too much prosperity leads to weakness and arrogance, which is fatal.
Read 14 tweets
25 Feb 18
Assuming we have not reached the end of history, what follows "The Information Age"?
If an age is defined by the inputs that catalyze its most explosive growth, I'd guess the next phase is an "Age of Intelligence," where returns accrue to systems that can process information and augment themselves most effectively.
Increasingly intelligent systems could take the form of machines, individual humans augmented through biological or technological means, or groups with greater collective feedback, decision-making, and resource allocation capabilities. Any of this would be jet fuel to growth.
Read 4 tweets

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