Francesca Bria on Decentralisation, Sovereignty, and Web3

A conversation with Francesca Bria that ranges over a number of themes, from the early history of Internet activist communities in Europe, to the lessons to be learned from Latin America, to the political limitations of the current wave of Web3 projects.

While Francesca remained faithful to the original vision of fostering democratisation and decentralisation from within the state and the public sector, others trod a different path.

Some of them actually now find themselves on the very frontier of Web3. Harry Halpin, who was involved in D-CENT, went on to found Nym, one of the Web3 privacy start-ups that has recently attracted funding from a16z. Chainspace, a start-up founded by George Danezis and his team at UCL, who were involved in Decode, was acquired by Facebook. More recently, the same team formed Mysten Labs, another start-up to have recently received funding from a16z.

There were plenty of other interesting actors who ended up doing Web3 – and crypto-relevant things; Jaya Klara Brekke, who was involved in both D-CENT and Decode, went on to write her PhD on the politics of blockchain protocols (before joining Nym). Denis “Jaromil” Roio has steered through D-CENT and Decode and some subsequent European projects while keeping a close eye on the world of crypto from the very beginning. A lot of other interesting people hung out on the periphery of the project at various times; at the very first D-CENT event in Rome in 2013, one could spot people as diverse as Maurizio Lazzarato, Stefano Rodotà, and even Moxie Marlinspike, who would go on to found Signal a few years later.

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