Not yet another web
- Ioanna SotiriouTEAM
- Speculative DesignTYPE
- Other Spaces, Melbourne Design Week 2022, the Victorian Government in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria.EXHIBITION
One of the most recent and controversial debates in the online community concerns web3: a theoretical, decentralized online ecosystem running on blockchain, promising the disruption of the tech company hegemony. The narrative has been criticized as intellectually incoherent, technically unfounded, environmentally disastrous, and already too dependent on private capital to be promising corporate emancipation. Most importantly, it perpetuates information asymmetry, promising the liberation of a user who is oftentimes too technically inept to understand and contribute to its architecture. Yet despite this polarization, there is a general consensus about the need for a new model of being in the digital space. This offers a chance to collectively re-think of truly decentralized information systems as spaces where communities can deliver public goods that escape new forms of commodification, embracing scarcity and indeterminacy at the core of their architecture.
“Not yet another web” imagines the birth of such a system, narrating a story of how nomad engineers temporarily occupy abandoned estate internationally, in order to build a novel, bottom-up, decentralized and autonomous web. Their constant moving creates a network of nodes that requires the public’s participation to operate. At the local level, this includes landowners offering abandoned assets either as a “donated lease”, or in exchange for novel cryptocurrency ledgers. Local users donate obsolete equipment, or offer it in exchange for various assets, thus minimizing e-waste. Energy autonomy is also crucial: when alternative energy is not possible locally, municipalities lease energy while other energy-abundant nodes repay the state by offering clean energy to their local community for free. Finally, every suggested function, such as authorization methods and hate-speech policies, is open to public voting, with communities voting and validating the outcome simultaneously from all nodes.
Parallel to the text, the project deploys visual disorder, scaless-ness and graphic indeterminacy to align this speculative system with the terrain it emerges from, and which essentially wishes to reflect: ever becoming, spaces of the possible built by nomadic science and participatory processes. Ultimately, this is a story of how indeterminate systems oppose formal and established protocols—be the urban realm or the centralized web—by embracing their innate sense of externality and preserving their state of ever-becoming.