Working channel on my privacy manifesto. What kind of web do we want to build vs. what kind of web has been built?
“Teenagers should be allowed to be boring and normal,” Tenbarge argues, “without having major corporate interests tied to their entire sense of being before their 16th birthday.” There's something so distressing about this soon-to-be-fulfilled future where the youngest digital users can't recall a content-free world with minimal, explicit advertisements, when you didn’t have to be a “real” person to have fun online. Social networks have convinced our FOMO-induced brains that there’s little satisfaction in existing as a shapeless form online, without an identity tied to a landing page or profile.
Do we want the web to be open, accessible, empowering and collaborative? Free, in the spirit of CERN’s decision in 1993 or the open source tools it's built on? Or do we want it to be just another means of endless consumption, where people become eyeballs, targets and profiles? Where companies use your data to control your behaviour and which enables a surveillance society—what do we want?
In fact, the browser you're reading this on (Chrome, Firefox, lynx, whatever), the web server that's hosting this website (Nginx), the operating system that this server runs on (Ubuntu), the programming tools used to make it all work (python, gcc, node.js...) -- all of these things were created collectively by contributors all around the world, brought together by HTTP. And given away for free in the spirit of sharing.
The web is open by design and built to empower people. This is the web we're breaking and replacing with one that subverts, manipulates and creates new needs and addiction.
If you replace the open web with Facebook, you're giving up your right to publish and share on your terms. The data that you post there does not belong to you; you're putting it in a closed system.
Today, we are so far from that initial vision of linking documents to share knowledge that it's hard to simply browse the web for information without constantly being asked to buy something, like something, follow someone, share the page on Facebook or sign up to some newsletter. All the while being tracked and profiled.
We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing”-oriented society to a “person’’-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are inca pable of being conquered. A civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy.
Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or
Community, Martin Luther King, Jr.