Identity and The Independent Web. Are we are evolving our contract with society through our increasing interactions with digital platforms, and in particular, through what we’ve come to call the web?
I believe the answer is yes. I’m fascinated with how our society’s new norms and mores are developing – as well as the architectural patterns which emerge as we build what, at first blush, feels like a rather chaotic jumble of companies, platforms, services, devices and behaviors. The Independent Web. John Battelle has put forth his vision for The Independent Web.
John is thinking of this concept in the context of the world he lives in, publishing and advertising, which makes total sense. I too am very taken with the idea of The Independent Web, but I am thinking of it in the context of the world I live in, investing in and working with web and mobile web services. My partner Albert Wenger posted a "letter to Larry" (my words not his) yesterday on his blog. One of his wishes for Larry's vision for Google is this: Supporting independent third party services instead of either trying to acquire them or competing head on with them. We have seen again and again that when a large company acquires a startup, they most often let it wither and die (myspace, delicious, etc).
Now Google is possibly the exception to this rule. The internet: The web's new walls. It’s Not Whether Google’s Threatened. It’s Asking Ourselves: What Commons Do We Wish For? If Facebook’s IPO filing does anything besides mint a lot of millionaires, it will be to shine a rather unsettling light on a fact most of us would rather not acknowledge: The web as we know it is rather like our polar ice caps: under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.
And if we lose the web, well, we lose more than funny cat videos and occasionally brilliant blog posts. We lose a commons, an ecosystem, a “tangled bank” where serendipity, dirt, and iterative trial and error drive open innovation. Google’s been the focus of most of this analysis (hell, I called Facebook an “existential threat” to Google on Bloomberg yesterday), but I’d like to pull back for a second. This post has been brewing in me for a while, but I was moved to start writing after reading this piece in Time: Is Google In Danger of Being Shut Out of the Changing Internet? The short answer is Hell Yes. 1. 2. He makes a good point.
. - No gatekeepers. . - An ethos of the commons. . - Neutrality. 1. 2. 3. It’s too late for Dave Winer and John Battelle to save the common web. The date was January 3, 2008.
Facebook had kicked me off for running a script to try to save the common web. See, I worked with Plaxo to run a simple script. One that would have taken my contacts out of Facebook and put them back into the common web. The script did some very simple things: 1. Facebook’s answer was predictable. Oh, a few people supported me. Is the Open Web Doomed? Open Your Eyes and Relax. We asked veteran technology writer and investor Esther Dyson, a longtime friend of Personal Democracy, for her thoughts on a current controversy: is the open web dying?
--The Editors I'm wading into an argument that I think may be overblown. With Facebook going public and Google threatened by apps and closed services such as FB, is the open web doomed? You might think so after reading the dueling blog posts of John Battelle, Robert Scoble and Dave Winer in the past few days. But things are a bit more complicated. Do users really care whether the web is open or not? As Facebook draws close to the billion-user mark and a $100-billion market valuation, the giant social network’s dominance has reignited old fears about the decline and fall of the open web.
John Battelle argues that we need a manifesto for the truly open Internet in order to rally the troops, but blogging veteran Robert Scoble says it is too late and he has already given up the fight. And longtime technology watcher and investor Esther Dyson says we need to remember that the Internet is prone to cycles of open vs. closed. In the end, the only thing that determines whether a closed model succeeds is the willingness of users to put up with its restrictions. For Facebook, that is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. Then along came Facebook, which took the ultimate “gated community” approach right from the outset by restricting access to university students. The Web We Lost. Update: A few months after this piece was published, I was invited by Harvard's Berkman Center to speak about this topic in more detail.
Though the final talk is an hour long, it offers much more insight into the topic, and I hope you'll give it a look. The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we've lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.
It’s our duty — all of us — to fight for the open web. When you use an app, or a platform like a mobile phone, or a social network, or a web service — whether it’s from Google or Apple or Amazon or Facebook — do you think about the extent to which it is open or closed?
Or do you just think about how it looks, or what it lets you do, or whether your friends are using it? Most of us probably fall into the latter category, but as veteran blogger Anil Dash and others have pointed out recently, there are some good reasons why we should care about the future of the open web, and be concerned about a trend towards more closed networks. As natural as that trend might be from a commercial point of view, it is the antithesis of what made the internet so powerful. 1) Control over our online identities 2) Control over our personal data 3) Control over where our content appears If you don’t care whether it’s open, who will? Post "Good Google", Who Will Defend The Open Web? In a recent discussion on Hacker News, user andyl made the following comment: “Before Google+ came along, Google had many great products and embraced the OpenWeb.
Now Google has abandoned Open Standards like RSS and CalDAV, and I think Google is more interested in building their own walled garden.”