Column: Bring Back the Decentralized Internet

Maximum PC Staff

Keep the Internet old school

It's crazy to think of how this whole Internet age got started. Instead of networking as we know it, you asked a guy named Jon Postel for an address. If you wanted email, you ran a mail server. Angry Birds looked terrible on the PDP-11, but at least it was two-player.

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In those days, you couldn’t buy services or watch ads in exchange for access. What that meant was the ’net was social, cooperative, and decentralized. If you wanted to put up ill-thought-out drunken selfies, you had to put up a server to host them, usually with the help of your local geek. It was more work, but it meant you controlled your data. Not Google, Facebook, or the NSA.

The Paleonet was a strange place, but it was something we built together. It was a place without click-through agreements or our lives being tracked and tallied in the databases of marketers and governments.

It’s time to get that back. Between copyright insanity, contracts that turn everyone into felons, and massive spying on service providers, it’s time to give up on centralized services and start looking to each other.

There is nothing—not a thing—we host elsewhere on the net that we couldn’t provide to each other through community server sharing. It’s how we all did it before we lost our privacy. It’s the only way to get control of our online existence back. It means going in with
friends or neighbors on a server account somewhere, downloading software, and learning to run what you use.

I’ve been doing this for 15 years. It’s great, knowing that we’re a group of friends helping each other. I doubt my buddy M is spying on me on behalf of my government, or Nike. Not so sure about Facebook.

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