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How to Build a World

This week's Town Hall is at a different time than usual – Chen Qiufan will be joining us live, tomorrow, at 10PM Eastern / 7PM Pacific on Wednesday, June 12th. Chen is a legendary sci-fi writer and columnist whose work explores the technology-induced traffic jams of the near future. Participate here!

P.I.G. Highlight – End-to-end Encryption in ActivityPub

ActivityPub is a protocol for distributed social networking. Mastodon and Threads, two Twitter alternatives, are both built on ActivityPub. The protocol doesn't support encrypted messaging, which would allow users to maintain higher levels of privacy on these apps.

Tom Coates' and Evan Prodromou's project is to extend ActivityPub's direct messaging mechanism with end-to-end encryption. The improved protocol will be proposed as the basis of a new report of the Social Web Community Group at the W3C and provide a working prototype.

Tom Coates

Tom is an entrepreneur and technology leader specializing in new product development and product strategy. He’s developed products for Time Out, Jawbone, and Nokia. He ran an R&D team at BBC Radio and Music, and was Head of Product for Yahoo’s Brickhouse incubator where he launched the pioneering location service Fire Eagle. More recently he founded the smart-home product Thington – which was acquired by Eero – and Planetary, a decentralized social media client built on the Secure Scuttlebutt protocol. A regular public speaker, he lives in San Francisco.

Evan Prodromou

Evan is a software architect and distributed social network advocate. He founded in 2008, co-created the GNU Social platform, and co-authored the OStatus protocol. In 2014 he co-chaired the Social Web Working Group at the W3C and co-edited Activity Streams 2.0 and ActivityPub. He is the current editor of both standards. Based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Evan is married with two teens and a cat. He is the Director of Open Technology at the Open Earth Foundation and the author of the upcoming book ActivityPub: Programming for the Social Web from O’Reilly Media (Sep 2024).

Protocol Musings

The SoP forum's General category is the home of #idle-protocol-musings. It's a good place to share nascent theories and thoughts about protocol science and entrepreneurship.

Here are some snippets from the past week's discourse:

"One reflex I find myself developing as I dig more into summer of protocols is imagining a human system in the absence of a particular protocol (e.g. driving with no convention or enforcement of ‘sidedness’)" - from Law as a subset of protocol

"Another perspective I’m considering is: All models are false; all frameworks and protocols are provisional...This aligns with the quote’s acknowledgment that terms like ‘soul’ may be shorthand attempts at grasping the emergent complexity of human-like entities." - from The 'Soul' as Shorthand

"AI development is quickly going from open source to privatized to secret. When stakes go up, protocols get called in." from Protocolization of AI Model Safety

"You can think of ZIRP as decentralized financing of venture capital by the federal government (capital is available for cheap and there is no centralized planning on how it should be allocated). This produced competing platforms that all did the same thing which encouraged zero sum/winner takes all dynamics." from Protocols have centralized planning, decentralized economics?

Kit Update

Module 3 is arriving on doorsteps worldwide. The theme of this module is danger and safety. Anchoring the collection are essays Dangerous Protocols and Safe New World. Visit the SoP research page to learn how protocols are a source of problems and solutions

From link on Discourse.

Parts of Module 4 are already available online, including Unprotocolized Knowledge. This module centers on sociological perspectives in protocol science. The other cornerstone essay of M4, The Swarm and The Formation, will be live in the next week or so. The print edition of Module 4 is set to ship in late June.

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