I’m fresh from an incredible conference supporting decentralized innovation. Set in the beautiful redwoods near the Mendocino coast of California, DWeb Camp is a five-day retreat for builders and dreamers, to gather in nature to discuss challenges facing the web and to co-create the distributed technologies of the future. The goal of DWeb is to connect, learn, share and have fun as we work towards building a better, decentralized web. A web that actualizes the principles of trust, human agency, mutual respect, and ecological awareness.
First off, we really did camp. Some brought tents and RVs, and others rented a cabin or glamping tent. There were four of us from Storj: Rosie Pongracz, our CMO, Dominick Marino, Sr. Solutions Architect, Krista Spriggs, Director of Infrastructure, and myself: all crammed into a cabin with bunk beds! It was amazing eating meals under the redwoods, making smores around the campfire and reconnecting with and making new friends. There were more than 400 sessions at DWeb, but many of my favorite conversations were ad-hoc under the redwoods. Here’s a recap of some of the more formal Storj session highlights.
Introducing Storj and our latest decentralization projects
Since this was our first DWeb, we wanted to introduce the work we’ve been doing at Storj. Recently, we’ve partnered with the Internet Archive to store the Libravox audiobook and NASA video collections. Dominick Marino joined Arkadiy Kukarin, Decentralized Tech Lead at the Internet Archive, Benedict Lau from Starling Labs & Hypha Co-op, and Jeromy Johnson from Protocol Labs to get real about What does it take to store Humanity’s Cultural Treasures at Scale? This conversation covered what cultural institutions need to consider when using decentralized storage.
Saturday afternoon, sitting under majestic Redwoods, Danny O’Brien from FileCoin Foundation, Dominick Marino and myself had a conversation about Creating Decentralized Supply. Decentralized supply is the raw material for decentralized business models. AirBnB, Uber, Lyft, and even Storj wouldn't exist without it. Our conversation moved from supporting the creation of decentralized supply to the different economic incentives for decentralized economic models, like how can we stop extractive economic models from taking over early decentralized technologies, to the existentialism questions of “Is all centralization bad? Is all decentralization good?” Filecoin Foundation Board Member and longtime friend Brian Behlendorf’s apt quote, “Minimum viable centralization” perfectly sums up my opinion: we have to take the best aspects of centralization and decentralization to create the technology systems of the future.
My favorite conversation was lead by our own CMO, Rosie Pongracz, who brought together an amazing panel of experts including Lia Holland from Fight for the Future, B Cavello from Aspen Institute, Benedict Lau from Starling Labs and Ross Schulman from EFF to answer the questions “How does decentralization mitigate the risk of politicization of data?” and “Where do public policy and decentralization meet and influence data integrity?” in the session on Decentralization + Public Policy.
B Cavello made a passionate plea for technologists to communicate more clearly and “ Think of law as code. Where you put the comma, matters.”
Lia Holland built onto this idea by suggesting technologists “Threat model your principles to understand how they can be misused. You have to red team the language, and how it could be interpreted by a judge or actively misinterpreted by those who are against it.”
Last but certainly not least, our own Krista Spriggs introduced the Storj developer environment with a creative metaphor in her Storj Poke Bowl Session, where she demonstrated setting up a local storage network on her laptop.
Applying “decentralized” concepts beyond the web
One of the special things about DWeb are the sessions on all kinds of decentralization - not just ones applied to technology. And we brought sessions on how we applied decentralization concepts to our lives. Like decentralizing travel by becoming a pilot to decentralized management styles to designing your own decentralized solar system.
Decentralized web leadership techniques feel similar to what I learned in my association with the Cacophony Society in the late 90s, so I created my session, Decentralized Leadership Techniques - Learnings from the Cacophony Society, to highlight a couple of the key concepts that have shaped my own decentralized leadership methods. What’s special about decentralized leadership? It’s about balancing the chaos with order to get things done. I covered techniques like the TAZ, do-ocracy, and talked through examples in various corporate and less corporate environments.
“A Solar Panel” Designing a solar system, this hour long deep dive went into the details to design a decentralized network for planned consumption. It covered calculating consumption, common challenges, and how to design and build the system appropriate for the audience. The world is ready with unused capacity. If you build it, they will come.
Building the future today
It was clear from the people I met, our conversations and the great sessions, that decentralization isn’t a future concept. There are many established projects today beginning to extend Web2 into the future. And the momentum during this event was about connecting with the builders. I was honored to be a part of this and can’t wait to see what we accomplish together.