The Future of Empowerment Is On the Client

I’m excited about Brave, the new browser coming out with privacy and content payment features built into the core browser code. I won’t detail it here, but you need to check it out.

The piece that people miss about all these debates about Facebook-ization and evil tracking and big data is that the Web we got is largely a function of the structure of browsers and protocols we inherited. As a simple example, a browser has an idea of what your IP is, but no concept of you as a user, which means you need to rely on big central servers like Facebook to supply an identity to you. (Compare email, where identity is federated, and central to the system protocols).

As another example, more pertinent to Brave, the third-party cookie hack available in browsers sprouted a culture of Surveillance as a Business Model.

I think two approaches to this mess have emerged. The first idea is since browsers cede all your power to servers (at least when you want to do something interesting) — the idea is you should own a server, because that’s where the power is.

I think the less publicized idea is to move more power back to the client. Let the browser (or the JavaScript running in the browser) make more choices on how to interact with the web, supplying the layers that never got built, the identity, commerce, and syndication gaps that companies like Google and Facebook have made a fortune filling in.

Both the “Own your own domain” approach and the “Power to the client” approach to a better web are complementary, but I actually believe that it is this second path — exemplified by projects such as Brave and Calypso — that has the best chance of broad adoption.

See also Calypso is the Future of Personal Cyberinfrastructure


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