Building Distributed Press, a Publishing Tool for the Decentralized Web

FFDW works with Hypha Worker Co-operative and Sutty to foster decentralized web publishing tools that offer creators an alternative to centralized publishing platforms.

Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) is excited to announce our collaboration with Hypha Worker Co-operative and Sutty to develop Distributed Press, a free and open source tool for publishing text and other multimedia works to the decentralized web (DWeb). This award will enable these two organizations to work together to build a dWeb-native, no-code publishing platform that is both scalable and easy to adopt.

Hypha Worker Co-operative is a worker-owned co-op based in Toronto, Canada, whose mission is to collaborate with mission-driven communities to build better relationships with technology. Sutty is also a worker owned co-op, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that builds websites and a content management system (CMS) with the mission to empower presence, safety and freedom to activist organizations and collectives.

Distributed Publishing: What it Is and Why it Matters

Many people are familiar with centralized publishing platforms, like Medium, SquareSpace, or Wordpress. These platforms are convenient and easy-to-use. They come with a built-in audience and distribution channels. They also come with tradeoffs – from subscription fees and link rot, to questions of content ownership and data privacy.

It’s not hard to find examples of the challenges of handing over control of your publishing to centralized platforms. Last year, Kara Swisher, renowned tech journalist, lost years of her work on All Things Digital due to link rot. A 2021 study by Harvard Law School and the New York Times, which looked at 2.2 million URLs, found 25% of links in New York Times articles were completely broken and no longer pointing to accurate sources. In 2020, Facebook – and its family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp – went down for hours. Small businesses around the world depend on these apps, and these types of widespread outages significantly impact people’s livelihoods – from lost revenue to a whole business going down. Leadership or changing business models, such as those at Twitter show just how vulnerable a creator’s following or presence on a platform can be when a single organization or individual has ultimate power over how your words are distributed.

Decentralized publishing is an alternative, where resilient, decentralized infrastructure enables individuals more control and ownership over content.

“DWeb publishing platforms are behind when it comes to the features most creators need, such as feedback metrics, monetization tools, and infrastructure that supports large audience networks,” said Mai Ishikawa Sutton, project co-founder and contributor at Hypha Co-op. “This is where the Distributed Press project comes in. It aims to build these features into a fairer platform that enables sustainable creative communities on the dWeb.” With the support of FFDW, Distributed Press aims to create a user-friendly platform that allows the benefits of a decentralized publishing system.

Distributed Press

Distributed Press will build off of Sutty’s content management system (CMS), a platform for managing and hosting resilient websites designed for activists, collectives, and organizations, to enable anyone to publish creative and journalistic works to both the World Wide Web (www) and dWeb. The decentralized protocols they are initially prioritizing are InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), (previously Hypercore), and BitTorrent, as well as other protocols as the project progresses.

They are building Distributed Press to prioritize the needs of organizations from all over the world, with special focus on reaching the Global South and geopolitically diverse collectives. They are specifically working with and for the following groups:

  • Activists and journalists — through anonymous publishing, verifiable information, and direct monetization.
  • Offline networks — through locally-hosted content that is persistent, highly available, and suitable for creating distributed archives.
  • Artists — through new economic, ownership, and governance models that promise fairer relationships with creative platforms.

A beta version of the Distributed Press integration into the Sutty CMS will be released March 2023! To stay informed on its release and try out the tool, you can subscribe to their newsletter and follow Distributed Press or Sutty on Twitter.

Introducing COMPOST, a DWeb-native Magazine

COMPOST is a DWeb-native magazine about the digital commons that is the sister project to Distributed Press. Check out Issue 02 here! COMPOST is designed to live test Distributed Press and research distributed publishing features directly with communities of artists, journalists, and more. For instance, Sutty works closely with activists and journalists to help host vulnerable web resources that are at risk of being compromised or unilaterally removed.

FFDW is supporting the third issue of COMPOST, which is expected to go live in March 2023. To stay up-to-date on COMPOST, you can subscribe to their newsletter here.