Pygrunn: Laurence de Jong - Towards a web framework for distributed appsΒΆ

Tags: pygrunn, python

(One of the summaries of the 2015 Pygrunn conference)

Laurence de Jong is a graduate student.

Everyone uses the internet. Many of the most-used sites are centralized. Centralization means control. It also gives scale advantages, like with gmail’s great spam filter.

It also has drawbacks. If the site goes down, it is really down. Another drawback is the control they have over our data and what they do with it. If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold. Also: eavesdropping. Centralized data makes it easy for agencies to collect the data. And: censorship!

A better way would be decentralized websites. There are existing decentralized things like Freenet, but they’re a pain to install and the content on there is not the content you want to see... And part of it is stored on your harddisk...

See also Mealstrom, which distributes websites as torrents. A problem there is the non-existence of proper decentralized DNS: you have unreadable hashes.

A solution could be the blockchain system from bitcoin. It is called namecoin. This way, you could store secure DNS records to torrent hashes in a decentralized way.

https://github.com/HelloZeroNet/ZeroNet uses namecoin to have proper DNS addresses and to download the website via bittorrent. Not many people use it right now.

And.... the websites you download right now are all static. We want dynamic content! You can do even that with blockchains. An example is the decentralized twitter alternative http://twister.net.co/ . Mostly used by chinese people because twitter is mostly unavailable there.

There are problems, of course. Where do you store your data? Agencies can still do traffic analysis. How do you manage your private keys? Aren’t we getting browsers wars all over again? And can your mom install it (answer: no, it is too hard).

An extra problem is more technical: distributed hash tables are considered unsafe.

And... in the end, if you use hashes for everything (like every individual tweet, email and webpage), that’s a lot of hashes to store, partially locally. So it isn’t the solution, but at least it is a solution.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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