Victus Spiritus


The Old Kingdom

11 Nov 2011

The old kingdom is a pattern of centralized information, command, and control. Businesses, governments, and even the very fabric of the web (more on this in a moment) are composed of gatekeepers and those seeking access. Our attention and labor has been aggregated, funneled and taxed by those in power for generations. The truth of this pattern is as old as civilization, as old as human culture. We are a society of unwitting drones.

Autonomy Moves to the Edges of Networks

The folks I share a world view with believe in equal opportunity, not equal wealth. Work, strive, and be judged. As long as we thoughtlessly perpetuate a hierarchical system, we erode the opportunity for growth that our predecessors will no doubt inherit. This is less a rallying cry, and more of a message. The shift in value is in plain sight for those willing to see.

Why the Web is part of the Old Kingdom

As an active digital explorer and participant in evolutionary web development, I've delved deeply into protocols, web scripting languages, frameworks, and RESTful interfaces. Time and again I slam into the limitations of client side code, and the requirement for server hosting. The insidious requirement for servers is built into every layer of web stacks.

Need a server? No problem for the fluent

Although the technology surrounding self hosting has made it drastically cheaper and easier to setup a web server, there continues to be a barrier to entry for non developers. For example my wife doesn't deploy Rails servers, not even on Heroku. Why isn't each and every access point a fully functional network citizen? What's stopping users from clicking their way into their own read/write node without going through gatekeepers? Satisfactory nodes enable pushing and pulling updates to and from friends, and subscribing to preferred news and media sources.

The default response is "it's too hard for non geeks to setup and maintain a server", but that argument holds as much water as a raised aquarium platform shoe (very little).
With the rise of technologies like CouchDB we'll see the expansion of servers to mass market consumers. Admittedly there is a layer of UI polish that's required for each application, yet it comes as no surprise that mobile devices are upgrading to servers. The issue of local access to a recognizable url like https://marksmobile.ln/OneSweetApp without global domain name registration is as simple as modifying a temporary hosts file. Security IT specialists will shoot me for mentioning such a hack, but there are authentication methods that could make this work (using an extension like .ln to signify a local name).