The Sleeping Power

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A plea for restoring end-to-end connectivity

When the internet was born, it was truly decentralized. The most natural, core function was that users could communicate directly with each other.

But then an unholy alliance of unfounded security fears, technology naysayers, and advocates of centralized technology & walled gardens degraded the Internet, virtually removing the end to end connectivity. Well in theory, you still can connect from on public IP to another, but in a world where almost every user is behind a router this ceased to work.

You may say there is port forwarding, but it requires to configure the router manually which is simply beyond the scope of the average user. Wait, there is UPnP, which lets the application configure the router automatically! Great, but this functionality in most routers is disabled by default. Enabling it manually requires configuring the router, which is beyond the scope of the average user. Here you go again! And then there is STUN, STUNT, TURN and ICE, more hole punching hacks than standards, all operating in a gray area of specifications and differing implementations of routers or again requiring auxiliary constructions in form of additional, centralized traversal servers. But with IPv6 all will be better, right? In the IPv6 address space there are enough addresses for every atom in the universe. But before this comes effective, there are already proposals for IPv6-to-IPv6 NAT.

It’s unbelievable, after 30 years, the Internet has almost completely lost its end-to-end connectivity.

Don’t let them fool you. Neither the limited address space in IPv4, nor security is a founded reason to remove end to end connectivity. As long as the operating system asks the user for his confirmation, if he wants to allow inbound access to this computer, to this specific application everything should be fine.

Over time, people forgot about the decentralized origins of the Internet and got used to a centralized architecture. There the users connect to a centralized service provider and are solely able to communicate over this middleman, from whom they are now dependent and whom they have to pay in one or another way. The current move toward the cloud is only the next step into a fully centralized system, controlled by few big players, manifesting monopolies, and imposing additional borders and taxes. Due to the lack of standards it removes the rest of independence from users and small companies.

Well, of course the users have still a plenty of unused resources (disk space, bandwidth, processor cycles), they already paid for, and which would be super sufficient to serve as infrastructure for all kind of services. Together, they are far more powerful than all those big guys out there. Utilizing their own resources would prevent that the users had to pay a second time, making them independent from providers, who are locking them and their data into walled gardens.

Just somebody “forgot” to standardize the way all those users could unite their forces.

In such a system people would own their data, they could make could grant or remove access at their will. They wouldn’t be exposed for unsolicited data mining and their communication couldn’t be blocked, censored, inspected nor monitored. There simply wouldn’t be central instances, where providers are held as deputy for the interests of monopolistic incrusted industries or political interests.

The average user does not feel sorry, because he did not bother with that technical stuff. He just doesn’t know about the potential applications and healthy competition to the big centralized incumbents he is going to miss due to the connectivity restrictions.
Social networks, instant messaging, micro blogging, all those naturally decentralized services are still forced into a centralized corset, keeping the users in dependency of divided and walled communities.

We believe that the sleeping power of the masses can be unleashed by overcoming their artificial isolation …

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2 thoughts on “The Sleeping Power

  1. Do you know of (or have) any proposed standard about the way all those users could unite their forces? I full-heartedly agree with your argument and I think this whole NAT thing is a crying shame.

  2. AFAIK the best available solution is RFC4380, also known as Teredo
    With Miredo there is also a open source implementation for Linux and Mac OS X available.

    Teredo enables nodes located behind one or more IPv4 Network Address Translations (NATs) to obtain IPv6 connectivity by tunneling packets over UDP. Running the service requires the help of “Teredo servers” and “Teredo relays”.

    IMHO this is still a hack, as its not compatible with all routers and it only brings you back a connectivity by the help of auxilary servers and additional software stacks, which wouldn’t be necessary if NAT wouldn’t disable the inherent TCP/IP connectivity first.

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