A Meditation on the Open Web
Something about this video makes me realize the real reason I am blogging on Rocket Panda instead of something like SquareSpace or Tumblr. It isn’t because I think WordPress is a better platform, that is debatable on many different levels. The reason is because it’s my platform. I own every pixel of this website and I can control what goes on here and what doesn’t.
This isn’t about WordPress though, it is about the open web. If you are unsure what the open web is, I will let Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, explain.
What is Open Web?
“Open web” is a sweeping term — it encompasses technical concepts like open-source code and open standards. It also encompasses democratic concepts like free expression and digital inclusion.
But there’s a single underlying principle connecting all these ideas: An open web is a web by and for all its users, not select gatekeepers or governments.
At Mozilla, we compare the open web to a global public resource, like clean water or the environment. The open web is something we all depend on: to communicate and create, to work and play, to buy and sell. And like any other natural resource, it’s fragile. It needs care, because it can be polluted: by harassment and abuse, by misinformation, by bad public policy.
Why is it important?
The web doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or apart from society. The two are deeply entwined. The web is where we engage with journalism, form opinions and share knowledge. It’s an arena for politics, education, culture and science.
An open web means positive progress for all these things. A more informed public; more civic participation; more opportunities to learn and connect with each other.
An unhealthy web has an opposite effect. When misinformation, harassment or surveillance proliferate online, we lose trust in our institutions and in each other. Fewer people engage. And when closed, proprietary technology proliferates, innovation and competition are stifled. The web is no longer a level playing field — it’s a platform controlled by a select few.
While the main issue is governments seeking control of the internet, another entity is at work to wall up our content and lives: social media. I read somewhere a long time ago that you can’t be playing in someone else’s yard and then get upset when they kick you off it.
If Facebook one day decides that they want to close up shop all of the photos, posts, videos, status updates, and events you have put there are susceptible of going away forever. While losing a large part of your digital life can be catastrophic the thing that I think is much more dangerous is the freedoms you are giving up as a cost of entry into Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
These social media giants aren’t making these social networks just so you can stay in touch with friends and family, it is to get data and demographic information for marketing and advertisers. You are the product, and the more information these companies can get on you the better.
That said, Apple is planning to launch Sign In with Apple soon and that is a game changer in my opinion. You no longer have to use your personal information to log in to a service. You can now use great services online and in the App Store without having to worry about privacy concerns. This is the digital version of having your cake and eating it too.
I plan to remove every piece of my Facebook the moment I get married this summer. I no longer want to be a part of a company I deem to be evil, and I don’t want to keep feeding them my personal data for a myriad of reasons.
I guess what I am trying to say is when I want to share something on the internet I am going to do it on Rocket Panda, and I hope that you consider doing the same for your stuff.