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The Decentralized Internet of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”? Real-World Teams Say They’ve Already Invented It

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This season, on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” fictional character Richard Hendricks set off on a new venture—reinventing the Internet into a decentralized network. The vision, to create a peer-to-peer Internet that is free from firewalls, government regulation, and spying, is one shared by the Decentralized Web movement. It isn’t exactly a new idea. In the real world, the Decentralized Web movement has been working for a couple of years to link people interested in advancing the effort, and pieces of the technology are being developed in various corporate and university labs. Making a true decentralized Web—or decentralized Internet (the two are a little different)—isn’t going to be fast or easy, Decentralized Web evangelist and Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle told me last month, because, although it is a good idea, it is hard to execute.

Or maybe it is coming sooner than we think. After I wrote about HBO’s “Silicon Valley” joining the Decentralized Web movement, I heard from two teams who say they are close to rolling out a version of the technology very similar to that described on the show. However, their interpretation of what’s described on the show is somewhat different.