In this session, participants will learn how to apply foresight methodologies to complex user challenges in decentralized and distributed technologies to determine potential solutions.
Strategic foresight is a discipline in which we systematically and deeply consider possible futures. By scanning for weak signals and mapping scenarios, we are able to test our current strategy and know where to refine it.
What are decentralized and distributed architectures?
There are an ever growing number of projects today that use these architectures. In a centralized system, one entity has control over all the other entities in that system. In a decentralized system, one entity may have control of several other entities, but not all. And in a distributed system, no one entity has ownership or control over any others. Some examples are:
IndieWeb standards - W3C & independent standards for decentralized web sites
IPFS, dat://, Scuttlebutt - distributed protocols
BitTorrent - peer to peer protocol & app for file sharing
Article on Mozilla Hacks Blog introducing “dweb”
How we approach decentralized and distributed at Mozilla
Our mission is to: engage with diverse communities and collaboratively grow an ecosystem of products and services that prioritize personal agency, individual expression, and civil discourse.
Our team in Emerging Technology has tracked some advances in the space in our Hacks blog series. From this work, we have informed experimental tools to enable decentralized and distributed approaches in Firefox. We have also sponsored and hosted IndieWebCamps to support a growing community of independent web sites using practical methods to interact peer-to-peer today. We are continuing to apply strategic foresight methodologies and research to understand what opportunities exist in the space, specifically focused on user needs.
- Hacks blog series
- User and expert interview research
- Prototyping peer to peer sharing browser
- Developer tools enabling decentralized/distributed approaches
- IndieWeb standards & community - https://indieweb.org/
A Futures Wheel is a foresight tool that helps you brainstorm the direct and indirect consequences of a change in the future in order to manage problems and seize opportunities. This change can be an event, trend, problem, or possible solutions. The futures wheel is a brainstorming tool that helps you visualize interrelationships between causes and resulting changes.
Step 1: Let’s make groups of 3 or 5 people to make our own futures wheels.
Our mission is to: To engage with diverse communities and collaboratively grow an ecosystem of products and services that prioritize personal agency, individual expression, and civil discourse.
For this activity, let’s focus on: 1) users 2) solutions. Why? At Mozilla it’s our mission to protect, promote, and advance the experience of users online. People are more important than technologies or architectures.
Step 2: Build your wheel: Pick an opportunity for change. Write the change to consider in the center of a piece of paper. Identify direct, first-order consequences and indirect, second-order consequences.
Step 3: Analyze it and identify actions
Step 4: Share.
Opportunities for Change
- Between the stops: Let users save ‘web app’ content for offline use so that they can have continued access in times or places where they do not have a reliable Internet connection.
- Indieweb takes over: Facilitate and ease the process for users to create and maintain independent social networks (e.g., Mastodon) and individual blogs/pages that connect to each other (e.g., IndieWeb)
- Creator Support: Ecosystem that supports creators getting paid for their creations.
- Critical Communications: Provide a reliable way to communicate with peers and group members even if some individuals are located in low-access areas.
- Own your social: Users control their social graph, such that they can take one from a current social network and all of the metadata about these relationships, and bring it into another that better meets their needs (e.g. micro.blog)
Build your future wheel - 10 min
What are first order consequences if this change were to happen in the future?
Example: Own your social -> users control their data
What are second order consequences if this change were to happen in the future?
Example: Own your social -> users control their data -> consumer autonomy makes companies more accountable
What are some interconnections?
Analyze it - 5 min
- What actions would enable or start that change? Consider the people involved.
- Is this change realistic? Is there something more important?
- Have you encountered examples of this change?
Summarize & Share - 1 min each
- Consequences of your change opportunity
- Analysis & Actions
Based on what you’ve concluded and heard today, what suggestions do you have for Mozilla and other developers working for a more independent, distributed, and open web?
Feel free to suggest anything from advocacy to building features, products, and services.
Thank you for participating and sharing how we can all empower people on the web.
We hope from this session you have a sense of the ways Mozilla is planning for and thinking about growing decentralized and distributed power structures for the future.