Petrogale is a step from user generated content to user distributed/hosted content or from web 2.0 to web 3.0, even it doesn’t seems to be. It looks like a combination of a Wiki and a social network. Surely it is. But the difference is the technique in the background. Using a peer-to-peer-network in the browser all data will be stored on the machines of the user! But that is “only” a side-effect as the benefit for the user is our highest good. Summarizing our goals in one sentence, our mission is to create a for everyone easy-to-use website, to prevent a certain censorship of accessibility of knowledge/news and to promote privacy. All in all this shiuld lead to a lower impact of surveillance as far as possible.
Or more in detail the principles of Petrogale are:
- no technical knowledge needed
- no program, application or plugin have to be installed -> usable with every browser
- a more censor resistant network
- better control of private data
- no datacenters at all
Having more than one goal often leads to the need of a trade-off – the same here. The main goal will be a robust, efficient peer-to-peer-network which is usable from every computer with internet connection and a browser installed. In that way access to the wiki should not fall victim to censorship. Since the wiki is the basis of Petrogale, this holds true for the integrated social network. Moreover privacy is the highest priority in this social part (where it should compound surveillance like PRISM or Tempora).
Find out how it works! or Take a look at it! (only very little functionalities are already implemented)
By the way: the core of Petrogale – Mareeba (the “engine” for the p2p-connections and most of the functionalities) – will be published separately under an Open-Source-Licence.
The world wide web, in the understanding of the majority, isn’t that decentralized. Sure, you have multiple server for only one website like google, wikipedia or facebook. Although they aren’t concentrated somewhere in the world, they are still controlled by a more or less closed group. Regarding to the access it is relatively easy to block those websites for the majority and to censor or shutdown communication in that way like it happened in the past (e.g. arab spring). Mostly alternatives need technical knowledge or special applications. They aren’t as easy as the use of a website, for which only a browser is needed. This “gap” between easy-to-use websites and robust solutions should be closed by the public part of Petrogale. To be honest the private or social part was “only” a useful and consistent addition to that.
At the Moment
How has it started
The concept and early implementation of Petrogale was the Bachelor Thesis of Marten Schälicke written at HTW Berlin in 2012/2013, where he was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ralph Lano and Sascha Baumeister. It follows the projects of Prof. Dr. Lano distripedia and distriFriends (a browserbased p2p/social network). In the last one Marten participated.
The thesis is published licensed under creative commons (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) and can be downloaded here (written in German).