A ring of websites. A webring.
This may seem a bit bizarre to readers in 2019, but you’ve gotta remember that things were different back then. There were no search engines as they exist today. Google was still an academic side project at Stanford. Social media didn’t exist (oh my god the bliss). You couldn’t see what was trending, or see a retweet. There were no “278 friends are talking about this”. You relied on word of mouth for everything.
So webrings were ENORMOUSLY important for discovering new and exciting content back in the Age of Innocence. A 50 user per month site could find itself “next” to a 5 million visitor per month site, which would then start passing visitors to it. Hitting random would take you to things that you shared an interest in, but would never have any other way of discovering
A partial, biased and woefully incomplete quick trip to (some places) in the Fediverse.
If the future iteration of the Internet, as we know it, is built primarily on secure peer-to-peer computing power in a fully distributed mesh — where our resources are shared and our collective networking grows stronger and more secure with more users in the system (and this is where the technical aspects are beyond me right now, so I am writing this in faith that either blockchain systems or something else will be the underpinning of security) — then more people will have access to more networking, and more opportunities.
These are complicated ethical questions. As builders of software on the modern internet, we have to know that there are potentially serious consequences to the design decisions we make. Facebook started as a prank by a college freshman and now has a measurable impact on genocide in Myanmar. While it’s obvious to me that everyone having unhindred access to knowledge is a net positive that particularly empowers disadvantaged communities, and that social media has allowed us to have access to new voices and understand a wider array of lived experiences, it has also been used to spread hate, undermine elections, and disempower whole communities. Decentralizing the web will allow more people to share on their own terms, using their own voices; it will also remove many of the restrictions to the spread of hatred.
In America, we’re unfortunately used …
Although it uses incredibly imprecise language, it can be reasonablly inferred that the directive targets large service providers like Google and Facebook. It doesn’t target small communities or people who are independently hosting their content.
All of which means that peer-to-peer decentralized social networks are exempt, if you’re hosting your profile yourself. Nobody on the indie web is going to need to implement upload filters. Similarly, nobody on the federated social web, or using decentralized apps, will either. In these architectures, there are no service providers that store or provide access to large amounts of work. It’s in the ether, being hosted from individual servers, which could sit in datacenters or could sit in your living room.