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Dries: Blockchain is Bad for the Environment

Talking about Blockchain, Dries Buytaert, Drupal founder and Acquia Co-founder and CTO, said,

"Blockchain is bad for the environment. I dabble to keep up with what is going on. There will be blockchain components as part of our toolbox.".

During this discussion, Mek Stittri, VP of Quality at GitLab, and Adam Silverstein, WordPress Core Contributor and Google Developer Relations Engineer, also talked about how Blockchain is bad for Global Warming and has now drowned with crass commercialization.

Dries, Mek Stittri, and Adam Silverstein discussed 'What is Open Source's role in the well-being of the Internet?' at the DrupalCon Portland 2022. The keynote was moderated by Tim Lehnen, Chief Technology Officer for the Drupal Association.

They discussed technologies like Zoom for meeting online and their impacts on people. The negative was the back-to-back meetings, and the positive was digital DrupalCon, as it made the event more inclusive and allowed people who may not be able to manage to attend to be a part of the event.

They said that transparency is essential when talking about the Internet and social media. The Internet has become the new "Public Square." Tons of content is being created on systems like Tik-Tok because people don't want to manage their own sites. They have made it nearly frictionless. 

Ideas can span the globe nearly instantly, and most of these platforms are private, leading to misinformation. Mek Stittri said that the concept of global citizens and people speaking up about their experiences and transparency could help us work against misinformation and the associated risks.

Dries said that he is scared of large centralized organizations like Twitter and would prefer if it was a set of open-source protocols that many could utilize. If we leave it up to an organization, bad things will happen.

He added that Twitter and Facebook are so successful, yet we haven't been able to create open-source alternatives. 

They further discussed the promise of Blockchain, to trust without a central authority. There have been a trillion dollars invested in Blockchain, and there isn't much to show for it. It has now been drowned with crass commercialization.

Talking about how to handle security concerns and the transparency of algorithms, Dries posits that what might be helpful is a governing body to audit high-impact algorithms so that they are unbiased, work as intended, and don't have negative impacts on society.

He said,

"Large algorithms may be difficult to audit if they are open, but someone might still do it if they are motivated. Our legislators are letting us down - we should have standards in place. This is missing for software algorithms - it is worth having an agency review."

To add to this, Mek said that there's no one process that can safeguard everything, but multiple layers of guard rails are essential and a community of ethical hackers and bug bounties.

On motivation around Drupal distributions, they said that It takes effort to think about building things for others and not just for ourselves, but that is the long-term value of building for open source. They also said that you have to accept that you might not like what other people do with your code as an open-source creator. 

As the discussion moved to open business practices, Mek said,

"At GitLab, we do business in the open and put everything in the handbook, including how we run the company. It's all open for contribution. We see ourselves, our customers, our users – all as part of our community & we co-create together."

He added that at GitLab, there is a way to license your code. If you are on the GitLab system, you must abide by the licenses you utilize.

Talking about their business practices, Adam said that conversations happen in the open, and everything in WordPress is out in the open. He also said that more transparency would result in better pay equity. Even Dries added that he is a big fan of trying to be open.

When asked about the culture of secrecy around tech salaries, Mek said they make their pay ranges transparent.

"It serves the interests of the people paying the salaries to keep them secret,"

said Adam.

Adam said that the sites would adopt the most restrictive rules when discussing restrictive rules. He believes that there will be companies emerging to deal with the complexities of privacy laws in the way eCommerce services calculate state-by-state taxes, and there will be GDPR as a service. GDPR indicates that you must explain how data is used in a human-readable way.

Mek added,

"You need to abide by local laws. GDPR is an example of a global regulation that affects other regions."

At the same time, Dries said that he doesn't experience borders as an end-user, but businesses have to follow all the rules for each market.

During the session, Adam said that he had just installed Drupal for the first time in a decade and had a great experience with the Umami demo. He liked the distribution where you can provide a platform that includes all of the things you might need out of the box. Mostly in the WordPress world, you are dropped into a black slate. He really likes the fact that it ships with something that works as they need to make it easier for people to get started.

When asked what we should do, see, and read about moving forward, Mek said that global citizenship and contributing to communities you care about are essential. While Adam said cherish your community, Dries asked to check out the Indy web.