How a Reengineered Internet Could Protect Free Speech

Das Internet By Matt Britt CC-BY-2.5.
The Internet By Matt Britt CC-BY-2.5.
That the internet works for so many people and across so many different technologies can seem kind of miraculous, but the internet’s founders had nothing like this in mind. When you consider that the early-days internet, circa the mid-1970s, was a solution to the problem of non-mobile, centralized supercomputing resources, its effectiveness for a world in which every yahoo lords over a half-dozen IP addresses like they’re pet goldfish is nigh unbelievable. And yet, here we are. Somehow.

By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD

While it works admirably, the internet also works suboptimally—this isn’t what it was designed for. So, we’re left with a good bit of room for imagining alternative internet technologies that might be closer to optimal and might come better equipped for addressing some of the emergent concerns of internet super-connectivity, such as privacy and the preservation of free speech. Enter named data networking (NDN).

Simply, NDN replaces IP addresses (locations) with named data (things), wherein a unit of data might be referred to in a way similar to the directory-based naming schemes we’re used to as PC users (as in, /Users/someuser/my_dir/file.txt). The whole internet would be structured like a big filesystem—a hierarchy of namespaces—where the most specific directory (from our perspective) would be our own local computer, while the most general directory (the root directory) would be the entire internet. As we traverse from our local machines outward, we access higher and higher directories as larger and larger subnetworks of the entire internet.

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