The dreamers of the Web are still dreaming

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

There is an effort to break open the closed silos of the Web:

Today’s Web has a number of problems, the attendees agreed; the most obvious being the kind of surveillance uncovered by Edward Snowden’s revelations and the ability to block access, like China’s Great Firewall.

Tim Berners-Lee, who founded the Web and is now director of the World Wide Web Consortium, pointed out how far it has strayed from the original dreams for the technology. “That utopian leveling of society, the reinvention of the systems of debate and government—what happened to that?” he asked. “We hoped everyone would be making their own web sites—turns out people are afraid to.”

But even the basic things people want to do aren’t possible, because instead of being a true, interconnected web, it has become a collection of silos. “People have their friends on Facebook and some photos on Flickr and their colleagues on LinkedIn. All they want to do is share the photos with the colleagues and the friends—and they can’t. Which is really stupid. You either have to tell Flickr about your Facebook friends, or move your photos to Facebook and LinkedIn separately, or build and run a third application to build a bridge between the two.”

He also criticized the model of trading privacy for free access to things on the Internet, and said it doesn’t have to be so. “The deal the consumer makes is a myth,” he said. “It is a myth that it has to be, it is a myth that everybody is happy with it, it is a myth that it is optimal” for anybody, the consumers or the marketing machine.

Mao said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. My suspicion is the government can regulate anything, and therefore it has the potential power to violate people’s rights. And the correct answer, if we want a just government, is political mobilization. Now, as in every era, if we want a government that respects people’s rights, then we need to fight for that kind of government.

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