Online / 5 & 6 February 2022


On the Far Side of REST

An Architecture for a Future Internet

REST, the architecture underlying the web's protocols, has proven its benefits in creating a globe-spanning, decentralized information network. However, REST is showing its age - it was designed when surveillance capitalism, identity theft, information warfare, and other threats were largely hypothetical concerns. Unavoidably, REST leaves many of these issues unaddressed. Best practices fill some gaps, but may not be universally adopted.

The Interpeer Project has been awarded a grant from the Internet Society Foundation for research and development into a next generation architecture that addresses current and future Internet user needs. Such an architecture needs to embrace the strengths of REST, incorporate known best practices, but ideally make worst practices impossible.

This talk presents the issues with REST in some detail and lays out proposed solution sketches. The ideal is to invite participation, however. The 'net needs a wide range of view points to be fixed.

In 2000, Roy Fielding published his dissertation on Representational State Transfer. Fielding had been actively working on the HTTP standards, which were guiding by informal design principles that REST formalizes. The talk will revisit this architectural style to disambiguate it from how the REST term has become applied since.

Much as software freedoms exist, we need to address "internet user freedoms", and their relationship to human rights. Existing internet technology must be evaluated in this light, in how it supports or hinders human rights.

In this presentation, architectural properties and constraints in the REST architectural style will be analyzed, with regards to the previous discussion as well as technical requirements. We will explore additional properties, and their effect on the architectural style.

The talk will also provide background on concrete work already done or underway on this and adjacent topics.

Finally, we'd like to briefly introduce the non-profit organization created to support work on this project. If we are to create a better digital world, we'll need patience and all the help we can get.


Photo of Jens Finkhaeuser Jens Finkhaeuser