Introduction to Web3 Revolution:
This is an English podcast about exploring the field of Web3. Through dialogue, it connects participants, actors, innovators, investors, and KOLs who are at the forefront of this social experiment of Web3. You can subscribe and listen to this show on Cosmos, Spotify, Apple Podcast and other general-purpose podcast clients. This episode of the podcast is sponsored by Mask Network (Mask.io) and hosted by Hana (Twitter: Hanachanweb3) and Nick.
“People are blinded by this commercial possibility. They start to miss what it is – the power of transformation. If there is a new tool on the horizon, if there is a new capability for human use, if there is new knowledge, if there is a new There is a new idea, you should take it, use it, take it. If a bad guy is using it, you should use it. I think the biggest mistake revolutions make is they think they are not being used by previous generations of revolutions bound by the lessons of others.” – Danny O’Brien
Hana: I’m so excited to have Danny O’Brien and Suji Yan with us on the show today. Let me introduce our guests first.
Over the past two decades, Danny’s career trajectory has landed at the intersection of journalism, lobbying and social activism, and he’s a veteran in the movement for digital rights. Last year, Danny joined the Filecoin Foundation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It’s worth introducing the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF, an international non-profit digital rights organization based in San Francisco where Danny has been its director for nearly a decade. As Danny himself describes it, his career path has always “revolved around issues of privacy, free speech and human rights in the digital space”.
At the same time, we welcome another guest Suji Yan. Suji is the founder of Mask Network, a web3 company that aims to build many web3-related social products and create a more open network ecosystem. Mask is committed to developing identity protocols and open source browser plugins, etc., to bring data privacy and the openness and economy of web3 to web2 social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Much like Danny, he was also a journalist and activist. Welcome to the show, Danny O’Brien and Suji.
Hana: This year, it’s been nearly 26 years since John Perry Barlow published the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence. I know this manifesto is very important to both of you and that it has inspired your careers. The core message of this Cyberspace Independence Declaration is that governments should not and cannot regulate the Internet because it is technically impossible, and from many moral perspectives, governments should not interfere .
The main point of John Perry Barlow’s claim is that cyberspace is naturally free from sovereign states, and should always be .
However, fast forward to 2022 and we are living in this age of surveillance, we are living in this age of all “walls” and living within so many barriers built by tech giants, I believe both Danny and Suji have been on multiple occasions claim this. Danny, you have a very interesting statement on Twitter saying ” they stole our revolution and now we’re going to steal it back “. This echoes a lot with our podcast topic, Web3 Revolution. Can you elaborate? Do you still stick to John Perry Barlow’s statement today as you did in the 90s?
Danny: Yes. Let me give some background: John Perry Barlow is one of the co-founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), where I have worked for many years and have come to know him well. It’s a very American-centric manifesto, in part because it’s in response to a law passed by the U.S. Congress that seeks to introduce a U.S. government-mandated censorship of the entire nascent internet.
Hana: The Communications Decency Act?
Danny: It was a response to the US Telecommunications Act, which was a special moment. I think John Perry would agree that the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence is a cool, powerful rhetorical weapon, not a simple description. You must give a vision to your goal, especially when it is threatened. You need to say “you can’t touch us”, although the point is to raise enough action.
So this manifesto isn’t exactly our way, it’s like “we’re going to fight back because that’s what we think is possible in this space”. I think its downside is in my motto – they stole our revolution. Now we’re stealing it back.
As always, you have a big desire to create a better world. Then, it always goes wrong and you have to regroup the troops. Although we lost that battle, we are still the ones with the torch. To me, it’s actually watching this ethos get taken over by corporations, but maybe more like what we’re seeing now in the Web3 space, where people are so blinded by this commercial possibility that they start to miss its essence and transformation.
So this is the relationship between the two. Like John Perry said, “There’s a revolution,” and I said a year later, “Well, this revolution isn’t as complete as we thought. So maybe it’s understanding another revolution. .”
Hana: So we’re basically going to start a revolution again and again.
Danny: And it’s like a motor, you have to move, 60 revolutions per second, for the whole thing to really move forward. Ha ha.
Hana: Okay, I know Suji was born in 1996. In that year, the manifesto was written by John Perry and sent to the first mailing list. Can you talk about your origins with the Manifesto?
Suji: I was born in 1996. But I read this manifesto as a kid. When I was 6 or 7 years old, my mother worked for a state-owned telecommunications company, maybe she learned some basic code compilation on the job, but she didn’t become a staff member of the core technology.
When I was very young, she gave me an old, bulky computer. Back then I liked to stay at home and browse websites. When I was about six or seven years old, I found an official translation of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by a Chinese academic organization. I think even looking at it now, that’s surprising. John mentioned great power governments in his manifesto, not just the United States and China, but every great power government has the potential to threaten Freedom Mountain.
Later, when I put all my energy into open source and journalism in high school, I didn’t explore the Manifesto as deeply, I always knew it existed as an academic text.
But I know about this for many years. I also know there is EFF. At the time I donated my $10 or $15 to their site with my bitcoins. I know there are many other organizations fighting for this. Until I graduated from high school and really entered the so-called Silicon Valley world. When I was in the US, all my friends would say, “I want to start a new company and be recognized and funded by VCs”. At the same time, this is a crazy time for most startups in China. With Web2, I just naturally felt that something was wrong.
The second thing is that, from my journalist’s perspective, Web2 isn’t leading us to a better world, it’s actually leading to worse things. And personally, I found many other interesting things. During that time, I found things like writing and journalism to be very interesting. I also find technologies like Bitcoin and others very interesting.
That’s why I got into this industry. In fact, my current Web3-related business is very much tied to John’s Cyberspace Declaration of Independence. And I think it’s unfortunate that people like my generation don’t really think about this revolution when they get to crypto, or open source, or whatever they use. They were thinking of something else.
Nick: These peaks and troughs have been widespread across industries. Journalism also has a cycle, when it rises, when it falls, when there is censorship, when people are able to regain certain freedom of speech rights and try to fight back. I’d love to hear from both of you if you’re optimistic that we’re at the peak of trying to restore these rights.
Do you think this is not a good time as it seems? To me, it’s about funding those efforts, which is a big part of Danny’s job. I’d love to hear his response to this.
Danny: Yeah, I don’t think there’s a peak, I think it’s a window of opportunity. And I also think that the general consensus that we need to have a big move is probably a mistake. Like timing is more important than math ability or whatever. I think sometimes it’s just a small thing, you can do a small nudge, but it can really change the scope of everything. And sometimes it’s that literal (rhetorically appealing text), like John Perry wrote this, sent it to a mailing list, and it went viral.
In my experience, at EFF, we had a moment when we gently encouraged people to use encryption over https, so EFF and a lot of other organizations formed a thing at this particular moment to get you a free certificate, It’s called ” let’s encrypt “. This means that now if you look at the top of your browser, a lock may appear. It may seem like a small thing, but the impact of 5%-10% of internet traffic being unencrypted to encrypted is huge, as it makes mass surveillance super uneconomical.
Nick: So do you think it’s not as good a time as it seems? It’s also an important part of Danny’s job, and I’d love to hear his response to it.
Danny: The current moment is definitely interesting, people are anxious, people don’t like what’s happening on the internet, so they’re looking for something better.
I don’t think they can put into words what it is, what’s going on. People have many theories, but there is an emotion, there is a dissatisfaction. The other thing is that aside from money, there’s actually a bunch of really interesting technologies going on under all the hype around Web3, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. This is also a window of opportunity, like one of the examples I often give is zero-knowledge proofs (ZK). Part of the reason is that they are improving, and a lot of money is being poured into them.
With these tools, no one can predict future possibilities, as it was with the advent of the Internet in the 1990s. And it was the same in earlier times, when public key cryptography was the foundation of everything we did, and I think it was the cryptographers who first saw the opportunity.
Hana: Danny, you started talking about some specific technologies and concepts that people are using more generally in the Web3 world. I read one of your presentations in which you mentioned adversarial interoperability , which is a very, very hard word in English, can you explain to us the term and why you think this concept is particularly important?
Danny: Yeah, I think it goes back to the idea of ”they stole our revolution and now we’re going to steal it back” and I’m a big believer in John Perry Barlow’s idea of intellectual property when people say “I I get a little frustrated with having this idea”, it sounds like you can’t do it, but it’s even more frustrating when people say, “We can’t do this because there are bad people who have this idea”.
I think I definitely saw this in the early days of the internet, there were a lot of people who did a lot of work and they thought “this is from the US military, it’s American stuff, and I think it’s bad”. And then later, when it becomes commercial, people will say, “It’s just what companies do to make money, and I’m going to ignore it.” Of course, you see this pattern, and it’s the same in Web3.
And I think if there’s a new tool on the horizon, if there’s a new capability for humans to use, if there’s new knowledge, if there’s a new idea, you should take it, use it, take it. If a bad guy is using it, you should use it too. It’s not technology that gets you down, maybe it does, but you should at least explore it and see what it’s like.
So adversarial interoperability is a narrow, almost policy thing here. But if you know about net neutrality, it’s in the same space that we had to come up with this incredibly clumsy term to describe something new in this world.
Here’s an example to make the question a little clearer. When I use YouTube, the YouTube download button is not displayed at the front of the web page, but in fact (from a technical point of view), my computer downloaded the video, and the progress bar at the bottom goes there to load, and the video does not freeze, That’s because the computer is downloading it and my computer is storing it.
There are also cases where they really don’t want you to do anything with it – like Facebook. In principle, I should be able to rearrange the information Facebook provides to me the way I want. Things like getting rid of algorithmic push spam, blocking ads from showing, picking my real friends and making them a priority. If you try to do this on Facebook, they’ll come to you. This behavior is problematic.
Hana: I have a special question for Suji, as a Web3 technology practitioner and entrepreneur, how do you use the method Danny just described to build your own product so that your product form is completely different from Facebook?
Suji: I think it’s all about the responsibilities and obligations of the company or entity. If another Suji builds a software somewhere that is a hundred times better than Facebook, but they somehow hack into the Facebook network, the police in the jurisdiction will come to the door and say, “You better shut this thing down, or you There will be trouble.”
But if I make this product a decentralized public infrastructure, the only thing the police can do is arrest me, but I don’t really have a private key and can’t really shut it down. And unfortunately, I’m just fulfilling my First Amendment rights to the U.S. Constitution, or other constitutional rights I believe. I don’t really benefit from this software, like Satoshi Nakamoto, it’s a public software.
It can be seen that more and more tools are replacing the jurisdiction of nation-states in some way. Also, they are still self-developing and very revolutionary. I’d love to see what happens next.
Hana: When we actually started talking about the “bad guys,” they designed a mechanic that knew you better than anyone in the world. Do you think the so-called Web2 giants, like Twitter or Facebook, can do something about themselves? Or do you think the Web3 revolution can happen inside Facebook or Twitter? We all know about Twitter’s bluesky plan. We’ve all seen Jack Dorsey tweet that he regrets making Twitter this way and not another.
I want to ask Suji and Danny, does Facebook or Twitter need a complete self-destruction to achieve this radical goal of decentralization?
Danny: So I think the point of John Perry’s paper is equally interesting in many ways, which is the economy of ideas. If you look at the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence, it’s on the left. It’s like what boundaries and boundaries look like in cyberspace.
One of the things that makes the Internet or the digital world attractive and revolutionary is that people never make it a point of discussion about where their borders are, and intellectual property is a point of discussion. Like, for example, someone creates something, and I copy it. So what is our relationship under ideal intellectual property rights? It is in a way that the person who created this thing still owns it.
I think we all fear a society where outside actors, be they states, religious groups or corporations, are able to read or influence our own thoughts. It seems like a very dystopian or completely different world. But the truth is, the devices and digital technology we use, Steve Jobs calls them bikes of the mind. They are a tool that you can use to express your ideas.
I used to share things through my notebook. But I may not talk directly to others to share. I use Google or other search engines to find what I want and share my thoughts. But I would never tell anyone. For example, if I’m not feeling well and I’m worried that I’m sick, I’ll google something about it, but I won’t share it with my partner, my kids, or even my doctor. Therefore, the radius of the way this information is shared is constantly changing. You can pretty much tell what I’m thinking from my laptop and phone.
At the same time, we must also expand our lines of defense, especially as these devices become more connected to ideas. Like when Elon Musk’s Starlink or anything like that connects to my phone. It’s just been there, it’s been there listening, it knows everything about me, and it’s constantly learning something about me.
Suji: There was a guy named Robert Owen who was from England and was a super-capitalist who is also regarded as one of the first utopian socialist thinkers. In 1824, he came to Indiana to buy 1,214 hectares of land and wanted to carry out an experiment called the New Harmonious Immigrant Community. He finally spent all his money when he was dying, and everything failed. This is an early attempt at utopia in America and the world.
Another thing I’ve learned from Bitcoin and Ethereum is that I don’t think their early members were 100% right. There are also some very stupid people, and of course there are those who run away after making money. But at least I learned something from the Free Software Foundation. These people can be self-sustainable and sustainable. They didn’t grow out of one man’s wealth, not because he sold his company. Unfortunately, both Telegram and Signal got rich this way. That’s what I’m trying to say, like Jack Dorsey doesn’t have a choice, either as it is today or just another punk guy in LA.
Danny: I love reading about utopias. Many countries started with a revolution, and maybe that revolution didn’t play out as many imagined, but as a movement, what was successful is there and what is failing is gone.
I know a lot of the basics of bitcoin and blockchain, the elements are not very new, but the combination is new. One of the things that makes Bitcoin super interesting is that all incentives are aligned to create and maintain this immutable distributed ledger. Crucially, you have to spend some money to pay someone to maintain this ledger. It would cost a lot of money, and the practice was weird. But for projects that want to continue to grow, this is an absolute factor.
There are many business founders who have a sincerity that comes from inspiring others’ value systems. I’m pretty sure Jack Dorsey has read the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence, and I don’t think you need to. When people realize just using a technology to give it a free voice, it spreads like a virus.
I feel that some people are not ambitious enough, that there is something bad right now, and when they build something good, people will turn to them very naturally. But I don’t think revolution is like that, because then you don’t need it. I think what you’re trying to do is you have to create a world that attracts people, not attracting them because you’re trying to do something better.
I think that’s one of the current Web3 challenges. We’re building all these interesting things with tools, but have we actually used them? Like people are building Web3 tools, are they actually using Web3 tools to build something? Like, you’re building something, I’m building something, and you invite me to Github, and then you invite me to Discord. Both of these things are very Web2, there’s something very “bad” in it, Discord is collecting all kinds of information, and Github is owned by Microsoft.
In Microsoft terminology, we have to “dogfood” this stuff (referring to internal developer testing) because if it’s not good enough for us, then we’re not going to attract people to a morally better one world.
Host: That’s correct. I feel very lucky because I was trying to make a point very similar to yours, and you pointed out some key points. All these promises come from this Web3 experiment. I think it’s a big opportunity in part because people are disenfranchised in web2, and with more capital coming into the space, people are able to do things that were hard to do a decade ago. With the rapid development of surveillance systems, whistleblowing will be more terrifying than it is today.
But my concern is that what we thought was making some kind of progress wasn’t, as if we were missing an opportunity.
Danny: I’m not that old, but I’ve been through this. I went through the early days of the internet, it was a decentralized environment. It is precisely because of decentralization that it can succeed. There was a lot of competition in the early days of the internet, there were a lot of state-driven projects in Europe and Russia, and there were quite a few companies in different parts of the US creating similar projects, but because it was decentralized, it beat all these alternatives.
But then it became centralized. This is a stolen revolution. To bring it back to the original path, we have to rethink why people end up choosing a centralized path.
I think there may be three reasons, one is that the centralized internet is more secure, because people don’t like to maintain their own servers, and it is difficult for individuals to keep investing in maintaining services. So people opted for “feudal security,” people voluntarily entered Mark Zuckerberg’s castle, and the walls of this castle will protect you.
Second, the same goes for privacy. It’s weird that in the beginning everything built on the internet was either public or super private, and you couldn’t just share it with your friends. When Facebook came along, people could finally talk to their friends, and anyone, including Zuckerberg, could see all of your posts. This is why people are moving from the internet to these social media platforms.
Last question, I don’t have a better solution yet. I can solve computer security problems, I can solve privacy problems, but not usability problems. Apple, for example, designed a very fragmented PC market, with different factories making their own stuff. But Shenzhen is a centralized place, where parts are produced and everything is assembled, and everything is operational and compatible. People buy these things because they are practical. We used to call it the “Crystal Prison” at EFF. They are so pretty, you just have to go in there.
And these are the challenges of the Web3 revolution. People want security, privacy, and availability. It sounds odd, but we have huge momentum on the first two fronts. Because if it’s not safe, everyone suffers for the rest of the time, and we have millions of people working to be safe. So we at least try to get this right.
In addition, how to make it beautiful, how to make it usable, this is something that has never been done in the decentralized world, all will fail initially, and more people need to think about this.
Suji: I have a personal question for Danny. It’s become a trend that more and more people are going to Web3, wondering how your colleagues or cypherpunk friends will react when they hear you are about to “go in the muddy waters”? Wouldn’t it be nice to say “I’m glad to have you to save the world?” I was a part of the open source community and it took me a long time to explain that web3 is not just about open code, or trying to make the GBL open source agreement as simple as that, I don’t Take the RMB, not the US dollar, but for a newer thing. After a lot of recent geopolitical events, they seem to be starting to understand what I’m saying. So, what happened to you then?
Danny: I think one of the challenges we face right now is understanding technology and being honest about being changed by it, or seeking out groups that can change the world. I am very much against using the term Web3. It should be a decentralized thing. And web3 seems to be opposing the people of Web2 and Web1, trying to mean to be a substitute for the latter two. It did cause a lot of tension. Like when I entered this space, my friends would have doubts.
There is also an interesting idea of a volunteer society. The idea is that you will donate your free time to build Wikipedia or open source software. But money spoils that. Anyone who has worked on an open source project, received a grant or found some form of income, has pressure and is not a “volunteer” to get paid.
So I think the idea of free information and public goods should be accompanied by the “this is a no-money” area. We have different forms of motivation in this space, and this is in stark contrast to Web3. Because Web3 takes the idea of monetization or monetary incentives as premise and center, rather than any broader political discussion. This is the fundamental difference between the two.
Looking back, what did we do wrong? The rise of advertising and the rise of monetization kind of caught everyone off guard and twisted everything in a harmful way. But the reason it appears is that there isn’t any other resource way. For example, Google didn’t find the right way to make money and ended up just sucking in the entire industry to pay for itself (advertising). Questions to ponder: How do we consistently contribute to a public product, be it Linux or Wikipedia, or any kernel-like product?
Thousands of Wikipedias and Linux should pop up, but reality tells us: it didn’t happen. How do we use these resources properly? How about not just relying purely on the kindness of strangers? How not to rely on those who might make enough money to do this out of liking or obsession? Everyone draws from the idea that we can build a better world through this decentralized platform that is outside of the state and commerce.
Hana: My personal observation of these spaces is that there are too many entrepreneurs and investors and speculators in Web3, but not so many social activists. The crypto-incentive economy you talked about is already there, and maybe in the future it will be possible to combine actors and organizations with different goals.
Danny: When you’re building new utopias, anyway, one of the fallacies I think people fall into is that there are only good guys in there, and if the bad guys come in, we’ll find them and throw them out — but that’s forever It doesn’t happen, the bad guys are very smart at finding loopholes, and the good guys get bad when they have power.
It’s less about keeping the bad guys out than getting the bad guys to do good things with almost bad motives. Just when you see a lot of areas on Web3 like this, you have people joining for motives like making money. But the challenge is, how do you get them to have basic motivation?
Hana: I think you are absolutely right. You can’t judge people for deep research into speculation because there are piles of money out there, but how do you make good stuff out of it, as you say?
Danny: How do we solve this problem? I don’t know, Suji might know.
Suji: I don’t know. But going back to the previous point, I agree with you about feudalism, like if you want to move out of Zuckerberg’s Facebook kingdom, you have a lot to lose.
If you dare to go back to linux, you will become a freak and lose all your friends (linked on the web). Anyway, it’s a curse. But I think right now, the whole trend is like we call this feudalism, and we kind of add free markets to it. This is a crazy Western capitalism. From a historical standpoint, it’s not all good. Honestly, more than half of it is bad. An early version of capitalism, which was the cause of many historical catastrophes in our real life, it is likely that cyberspace will create one through the same revolution. But this time, the individual sovereignty revolution is working with the cyberspace capitalist revolution, and they form a kind of alliance in the token economy.
Again, here are my thoughts. At the end of the day, the question remains, do we believe in free markets? If we believe this, why not improve free market work in cyberspace? If we truly believe this, we may later build our own system of government in cyberspace.
But prior to this process, there could be significant capital outflows from global markets. For the likes of Europe, China, and the United States, this may be the case before there is a real United Nations. Suffice it to say, we’d love the OGs in Web2 or some of the most powerful governments to jump into this space and eventually become kings of the space. In order to find this new ruler and system of government, it is best to have an open market for everyone to participate in this competition. This is my idea.
Hana: I would like to ask how your work at the Filecoin Foundation gives out grants and promotes projects that are doing a good job in advocating for internet rights, with better incentive models for public goods. I want you to talk about one of the projects, specifically Starling Lab.
Danny: I think Starling Lab is quite in the spirit of Web3. There are actually 2 foundations, one is the Filecoin Foundation – similar to a traditional blockchain foundation, the purpose is to maintain the ecosystem so that it will continue to be successful in the future.
We also have an actual nonprofit, the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web, whose goal is to grow the entire decentralized ecosystem while also protecting the world’s most important information, because that’s one of the original ideas behind IPFS and Filecoin . One of the questions is: what is the most important information? Who is trying to stop us from saving it?
One of the categories of “most important information” is the record of the genocide, something very important that can never be forgotten. But almost everyone stumbles and forgets about them. Those who experience them often don’t want to think about them and want to move on, at least decades later. And those who commit these crimes want to make sure that there is no record of the atrocities they commit.
As a result, part of the Starling Lab’s core work in partnership with the USC Holocaust Foundation is the preservation of genocide historical records and personal testimonies. Their original model was to document the genocide of the Jews in World War II and the accompanying genocide and data parties. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last genocide, so they’ve been collecting the same undeniable historical records that they’re undeniable in the future.
How is this information stored? How to ensure that this information is not forgotten? We store them on the Filecoin network because part of the design of the network is to enable this kind of data to be stored long-term in an incentivized model, which means that people who want to make money suddenly find themselves able to keep the world’s most important information as well.
We work with organizations of all types, like another great organization, Witness, which is also putting video news content on the Filecoin network. We’ve got some really exciting new places where we’re not just saving what’s already digital, it’s more like absorbing the analog world into cyberspace.
Hana: This reminds me of a quote from Italian communist Gramsci, who said “Old things are dying, new things cannot be born”, but I think we can see new things being born.
Danny: I’ve always liked this sentence. Maybe I’ll understand people using Github because you’re taking existing stuff and building new stuff you want to see. I think the biggest mistake revolutions make is that they think they are not bound by the lessons of previous generations, previous revolutionaries. That’s why you need to study history, even the recent history of the internet.
Like the big problem with the digital world is that if you don’t defend it hard, not only will what you’re trying to build evaporate, but you’ll lose history. We as revolutionaries must keep preserving knowledge of the past as we move toward the future.
Hana: Thank you very much. Danny and Suji, thank you for your time.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/how-to-reclaim-the-torch-of-digital-sovereignty-with-the-power-of-web3/
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