Project Liberty & DSNP

by Jay Cuthrell
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This week we take a look at Project Liberty and Decentralized Social Networking Protocol.


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Getting Informed

As I was catching up on my reading, I saw a note to SXSW attendees from Hugh Forrest. The note got me thinking about the future of social networks.

You might recall references to Diaspora in previous editions of Fudge Sunday. While my use of social networks is primarily Mastodon and LinkedIn these days, I’ve been on almost all of the major social networks at some point.

The majority of those social networks were entirely centralized. In some cases, the social network was an entirely walled garden experience.

Deep Web

Today, we also have deep web communities such as Slack and Discord. At the same time, we are also seeing the hunger for data in training models for A.I. become part of updates ToS / AUP in a growing number of walled garden online services.

Along the way, SXSW has been an event where some social networks were launched, many failed, and others persisted even under escalating threats of government intervention. However, the recent note to SXSW attendees brought my attention to Project Liberty and Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DNSP).

The websites for Project Liberty and Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DNSP) are informative if not aspirational. You might recognize the reference to Frank McCourt as β€œthe guy who wants to buy TikTok” from the recent news cycle.

For context, ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok. In early 2023, the United States government provided β€œNo TikTok on Government Devices” Implementation Guidance that has escalated to more than just government devices. Presently, ByteDance will likely be required to sell the TikTok operations in the United States by next year to comply with ownership mandates β€” and the courts are now involved.

Of course, there is a worthwhile rabbit hole to go down to get past these headlines. As of this newsletter edition, I now prefer to think of McCourt as the guy who bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from the guy who bought MySpace.

Those with a penchant for ROIC calculations can do the math.
( Hint: One of these things is not like the other 🀣 )

To hear from McCourt directly, check out the audio recording from SXSW entitled Our Biggest Fight: Reclaiming Liberty in the Digital Age. Next, watch this McCourt interview by Sonal Shah of Texas Tribune.

One challenge of β€œopen” initiatives is the dearth of funding. For social networks, advertising and increasing monetization of rage amplification patterns ( nΓ© clicks & impressions ) have been a funding vehicle of the past few decades.

During my review of prior newsletter references, I came across a piece from Tech Policy Press. One compelling passage highlights what I’ve called out in ESTEEM.

Responsible technological advancement is not a given.

As we look ahead to the future, we are on a path towards a small number of social networks being a single corporate interest that influences a sizeable portion of our world population. With the proliferation of A.I. and algorithmic means of amplification as well as extraction, there are generational trends to consider with open eyes.

What if there was an alternative?

the DSNP "rug that ties the room together"

The appeal of DSNP is the combination of user identity, user data rights, and user control β€” aka user agency. By contrast, most social networks operating today at scale leave identity, data rights, and control to a central corporate interest that is ultimately serving the needs of shareholders β€” not users.

To learn more about the technology direction of Project Liberty, follow the Amplica and Unfinished teams:

And if you have a propensity to contribute to the future of user agency, Project Liberty is hiring.

What will be the next big thing in decentralized platforms based on democratized technologies?

Until then… place your bets.


I am linking to my disclosure.

p.s. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate getting snail mail. If you have time to drop me a postcard, I’m going to be scanning the picture side of the postcards I’ve received and link to a Fudge Sunday Reader Postcards gallery (with suitable redactions and filtering for greater anonymity) as a newsletter trailer of sorts. Stay tuned! βœ‰οΈ


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