User indexing (
A purely-distributed peer-to-peer network topology wherein index management is decoupled from content.
“BitTorrent has proven its resilience in keeping the ability
of content to propagate, despite outside
influence. However, as most of the user-end is organised through
HTTP-based websites, their indexes of content are still beholden to
the same weaknesses as the rest of the web.
It follows that the solution to this is to promote a system of user indexing - wherein the management of content metadata may be handled on the whims of individual users, rather than the legal owners of a distribution platform. [Distributed hash tables] provide the ideal foundation for such systems.”
— User Indexing 2: An Uncensorable YouTube (Twitter, 2019)
Above is a simplified diagram of a speculative user indexing network. It illustrates a series of indexes of content, A through C, containing both links to content and descriptions of that content - which, in the cases of indexes B and C, also include other indexes. Users host index data according to their interests or to content distribution strategies. Moderators maintain indexes and approve changes through cryptographic signature.
A user indexing (UIDX) setup like the one above enables the management, storage and serving of indexes and the data they describe entirely independent of one another - where, for example, a block of content may be described by two different and separately-managed indexes, and hosted by mulitple peers (users) fully unbeknownst to one another. Through the use of public-key cryptography, the topology allows for consistent measures of index authentication and general processes of identity management, thus granting an integrity to UIDX networks that allows for a completely new digital publishing ecosystem to flourish.
The advent of user indexing heralds the end of the World Wide Web. A considerable portion of utility found in the Web - that is, in search engines and published media - cannot merely be fulfilled by a UIDX system, but in many ways is dwarfed by its advantages. This is particularly evident in the case of network resilience, where, in a content-addressed configuration, issues that plague the Web and its ability to maintain persistent communications (such as link rot or censorship in its many forms) simply cease to be a concern.
The above model may be tailored for a variety of potential applications in the area of publishing in particular, but also within the realms of commerce and distributed processing. In User Indexing 1: The Death of Netflix (authored on Twitter in 2018), I outlined the various disadvantages of commercial streaming services and the ease by which their content may be taken and redistributed by a legally-grey ‘file-sharing’ platform, for a fraction of the cost and effort it took the ‘legitimate’ service to build their repository in the first place.
Within a user indexing system, this kind of action can be done at-scale. When fused with the functionality of, say, a cryptocurrency wallet, one may also see the emergence of an entire market constructed around this kind of network arrangement, irrespective of the concerns of copyright holders. Given a certain popular use of the location-addressed client-server Web - be it news consumption, social media, or encyclopaedic study - one is sure to conceive of a UIDX solution that better serves their many needs, without the Web’s numerous pitfalls.
The implication here therefore, is that continued competition within the publishing / copyright industries in their present form is no longer a financially-feasible growth strategy, but for the risk of technically-superior UIDX services which shall surpass former players and assume their roles, forcing alternate means of revenue.
It is paramount that this is all effectively communicated to the Internet as a whole.
The year 2023 shall serve as an inflection point for the nature of digital publishing, and indeed for the nature of mass-communication in general. Throughout most of the year’s course, the Internet’s foremost publishers, for whatever the cause, collectively demonstrated a firm and certain trajectory towards a complete repression of information and a totalistic reach of technical control from which not even the Internet Archive is safe.
This merely cements years of precedent that has been building since at least the moment of Trump’s election, but has followed decades of GWOT rhetoric which has emanated primarily from the US ‘national security’ establishment in the wake of 9/11 - which, incidentally, most of the major digital publishers are extensions of.
By year’s end however, both the apparent need and evidential presence of a final exit strategy shall ossify. Pursuant to this, and the central contention of this site that a user indexing-based information management methodology presents not only a superior means of digital publishing to the current technological hegemon - that is, the World Wide Web - but also a necessary avenue of escape, one is left only to bring it to fruition.
In 2020 I published User Indexing 3: The Siege of the Web to Twitter, an essay which predicted a number of attacks which the ‘alt-tech’ Web services would be subjected to shortly afterwards. In brief, the thread was an exposition of the Dyna model of user indexing, followed by an overview of the alt-tech situation along with some general solutions to the problems they present, and were presented - which, as ironic as it sounded, involved the total destruction of each of these services, and their replacement in whole with UIDX systems.
A year later, wider interest had caught on in ‘Web3’, whose fundamental motivations were not dissimilar to the alt-tech platforms, albeit stuffed with lame references to blockchain incorporation as a supposed means of technical censorship evasion. However, one will find the futility of this set-up to be quite identical.
In the most favourable light, Web3 - along with tangential technologies and networks such as the ‘fediverse’ - is a failed approach to resilient frameworks for distributed publishing, processing and commerce, and one in need of serious reconsideration. Being less generous, they are usually outright scams and vanity projects for the sake of personal enrichment on the behalf of founders or the institutions who fund them, and a major impediment to actual freedom, presenting a situation in need of resolution via tactics outlined in The Siege.
So what specifically is this ‘siege’ from which the essay drew its title?
Plainly put, it is an irregular warfare strategy aimed at destabilising the World Wide Web through any means: a corollary to the ultimate objective of replacing Web services with their UIDX-based functional equivalents.
One might consider that such a proposal gives quite the unflinching ultimatum as to whether to hinge one’s prospects entirely on the future viability of the WWW, or entirely away from it - and in this consideration, one would be correct. With the exception of specialised services whose very nature requires client-server architecture to function (e.g. online banking or permit applications), the dominant information management paradigm that has come to be synonymous with the Internet rather fails us profoundly, and so shall it always; it must be dealt with not in half-measures, but as a medium wholesale, with all the consequences this entails.
The role of contemporary media is to primarily uphold a matrix of control serving only the imperial vermin that would think themselves our ‘rulers’, along with countless other actors with great personal stake in keeping our affairs in their current unworkable state. It has grown painfully clear that the Web is incapable of being ‘fixed’ or ‘reformed’, and therefore it must be destroyed. The siege envisages a true, full-spectrum war, against not only a cohort of ‘enemy’ Web platforms, but the entire space atop which all of these platforms sit.
The reality of our dire situation so necessitates a relentless and unforgiving campaign whose domains and methods are unrestricted. Our rules of engagement only are that in which anyone, at any time, may take part, and where any WWW service - that is, those employing HTTP as a primary means of information delivery - along with anyone supporting or operating these services in any capacity, is a legitimate target for disruption.
Siege mentality is tactically holistic in its approach, and the inclusion of fifth-generation techniques are likely to yield a rich and varied operational return, and even provide a primary means of conducting such operations in cyberspace and beyond. Everything from peaceful mediation to protracted bouts of direct action, spanning no less than the four or five Ds to the full DIMEFIL spectrum - creativity in one’s exploits is encouraged.
There are thus many possible approaches one may take to the design and conduct of anti-Web offensives. Above is an insight into one such path that a counter-Web guerrilla might consider when desiring to effect the continuous degradation of a Web service: the practical, systematised violation of content moderation policy via the targeting of ‘terms of service’ prohibitions on user-generated content and general use of the service.
This would hypothetically involve the utilisation of uploading or editing functionality provided by the service in order to effectively overload the service with undesirable and perhaps illegal content. The risks incurred would include the potential liability of possessing or transmitting such material, and the payoffs could include a strain of moderation resources to reverse and deter the action, bringing the service into an unwanted light under the press or judicial system, or the broadly desirable goal of degenerating the overall user experience.
Ordinarily, Web publishers would find themselves of limited liability for the activities of their users, due to 47 U.S.C. § 230 - or ‘section 230’ (of the Communications Decency Act of 1996), an element of US common carrier regulation passed in order to promote the growth of American Web platforms. Seldom mentioned in any discussion of the code however, is that this freedom only stretches so far, per clause 47 U.S.C. § 230(e), which specificies exemptions for content that breaks criminal, intellectual property or sex trafficking law.
The necessity implied here for platforms to regulate (ie, moderate) what they allow highlights the relative disadvantage of smaller platforms (e.g. alt-tech) which lack the same resources for doing so - making them a more susceptible target, and so giving a more desirable trade-off for attackers than the Silicon Valley services.
Of course, this is not the only avenue for exercising overt and covert tactics aimed at platform destabilisation. In fact, as long as the overall outlook for any particular platform, or the Web as a medium, has been adversely impacted as the direct or indirect result of insurgent activity, it is fair to consider the effort an overall success.
For example, I described in User Indexing 4: The Siege Cometh (2020) a case of the legal consequence that might eventually arise from content-policy violation on a significant-enough scale, giving the salient example of Mindgeek’s controversy that arose after failing to appropriately moderate their indexes - a situation which ended up escalating to judicial, legislative, and executive responses in both the US and Canada.
What it illustrated was the potential for press coverage to transform an ordinarily-stable context into a public reaction intended to provoke a state response, and one that even caused US lawmakers (and the president) to propose repeals of section 230 entirely. This situation ultimately set the ground for a UIDX network to step in and provide the same service, free of the liability that beset the old publishers and ‘tube site’ distributors.
The pragmatic utility of such a strategy effectively guarantees its inevitable use. The quicker it is recognised as both an enticing method of accelerating UIDX developments and a likely outcome of inaction on the part of WWW platforms, the greater is the chance of a smooth transition towards better networking arrangements.
The primary goal of the siege is but psychological - to affirm in the mind of friend and enemy alike, the fact that the WWW is an untenable system for publishing in the present day, in need of replacement via UIDX. The ideal fulfilment of a siege operation is therefore in fact the most peaceful one, wherein targets of any kind are made to adapt on the basis of examination of their situation alone; to be subdued without a fight.
There are many ways one may prepare for or help to accelerate the adoption of UIDX technologies.
First and foremost is directly adopting networking protocols that are conducive to the creation or general functioning of a user-indexed network. If a global, scalable solution is desired, DHT-based technologies such as IPFS are thus an ideal consideration. Anyone may contribute here by running an IPFS node, which helps the DHT network by simply keeping the program running, but if you are personally responsible for the management of large online datasets, migrating them to / mirroring them via IPFS would go a long way to a solid foundation of data on which to build.
One might also see fit to educate others of the changes needed to accommodate UIDX technologies. Convincing Web administrators of the need to provide distributed versions of their service (e.g. through IPFS) or enlightening Web users as to the WWW’s failings (and the harm that could beset them as the result of its continued use) would be a fine start in this regard. If seeking a wider, more-efficient return on effort, one might wish to consider an involvement in large-scale Web-disruption campaigns.
I currently maintain an IRC room in which to discuss anti-Web operations:
Visit the above address in your IRC client of choice, or join through Kiwi IRC.
In earlier days I laboured to convince parties of UIDX’s necessities on a personal level, with varied results. Below are some of those on whom the urgency of our situation was not lost:
- Library Genesis (Libgen) - Wrote a post on their forums in 2020 advocating that they mirror their entire database over IPFS (along with an overview of UIDX and its benefits), then found they had apparently decided to do precisely that just over two weeks later; they are presently expanding both their data and the gateways through which it is served, and their content is more resilient than ever
- Rhett Sampson (Blust) - Shared a conversation over a brief series of Tweets in late-2018 on the topic of ‘piracy’ (which later became the User Indexing 1 thread), where I explained the unfavourable tradeoffs for VOD startups when attempting to compete both with established players and file-sharing services; later found they pivoted their business away from streaming and towards distributed architectures
- Tarl Warwick (Styxhexenhammer666) - Exchanged Twitter DMs throughout mid-2018, explaining the fragility of Web infrastructure and the resulting lack of reliability that any Web platform is therefore bound to have; he continues to expand his presence (and thus, his audience) across publishing platforms
Likewise, one would do well to avoid the misfortunes of those who refused to take heed:
- Andrew Anglin (Daily Stormer) - Sent an email soon following User Indexing 3’s publication, with a link to the thread and an offer to help DS with migrating to better technical solutions, to which no response was ever received; the site continues to cycle domains in a desperate effort to dodge censors
- Gina Klein (Zees) - After learning of various troubles the service faced during launch, I both warned and offered help on developing the service on multiple occasions to their Twitter account, all of which went unresponded; the service died in obscurity a short time later, along with all discussion of it
- Paige Jennings (Vuli) - Exchanged Twitter DMs in the wake of User Indexing 1, in which I explained the inevitable financial struggles of digital distributors attempting to emulate the successes of Netflix, she later published a passive response to the Vuli blog which had apparently misunderstood my general points; following a period of financial struggles and limited enthusiasm, the site quietly faded away
- Ray Vahey (BitChute) - Exchanged emails regarding the points of User Indexing 3 just after I had made the thread, summarising its points and urging BitChute to evolve their infrastructure to compensate for the threats, which Vahey downplayed; they soon found themselves making inevitable legal concessions and censoring [even legal] content on behalf of the state, and BitChute is now a shell of its former self
- Ron / Jim Watkins (8chan) - Posted a year-long thread to /pol/ shortly after dynode’s creation in 2018, exploring in-depth many of the technologies to which the site could be migrated and the consequences which would play out should any service fail to do this, my final post included a call to drop Cloudflare 2 weeks before Cloudflare dropped them; post-8kun-rebranding, the site is effectively dead in the water
These events speak very loudly for themselves, though nonetheless beg for emphasis:
User indexing is the way forward.
For most contexts of online publishing, it is, for that matter, the only way forward.
The rewards for its immediate consideration are clear, as are the consequences for failing to do so.
Keep this in mind when the matter of patronising or founding a Web-based business arises.