OPEN WEB OR BUST



Answer me these riddles three:

1. What is the Open Web?

2. Who is trying to keep you off it?

3. How can you fight back?


1. What is the Open Web?

The Open Web (AKA the internet) was created when a bunch of scientists and programmers got together and agreed on communication protocols in the 1970s and 80s -- in other words, they decided on a universal way that machines would talk to one another in a network.

The Open Web was intended to be a free and open place for sharing knowledge. It has a governing body called the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium), an international community that oversees the protocols and standards for the Open Web.

2. Who is trying to keep you off of the Open Web?

Many of the apps and websites you use every day are trying to keep you off of the Open Web. Social media is especially fond of tricking young people into staying inside of the "walled gardens" they create that mimic the Open Web, but are actually hyper-controlled, hyper-surveilled places that are purposefully made difficult to leave.

Many people in the industry have started to call this phenomenon "Internet Colonialism". If these companies can keep your eyeballs glued to their electronic properties, you are theirs to control and monetize. Like con men, they have many tricks that you can start to recognize once you know what to look for:

"Its ok for me to steal from content creators on the web; I read Atlas Shrugged once."
-- Tech Entrepreneurs

Why would they do this? To make money, silly. We talk more about just exactly how your eyeballs turn into their cash machine here (hint: the are selling your personal information).

4. How can you fight back?

You must refuse to use apps and websites that "break" the free and accessible concept of the Open Web. The truth is that most phone apps break the concept of the Open Web. Why? Because they were designed to. Apple's App Store is just one of many digital platforms where technology meets censorship. They have rules that ban apps that "ridicule public figures" and rules prohibiting the mention of platforms other than their own. How Hunger Games is that?

You must choose to publish your thoughts and culture on open platforms that allow you to fully control and own your content (especially if the platform is raking in money by advertising next to it). Try Ghost.org or WordPress to set up your own blog.

You must support initiatives and organizations that exist to protect the Free Speech and the Open Web:

EFF
Open Web Foundation
The Mozilla Foundation

The fight to shape your experiences in digital media is fierce. Your best weapon is choosing to vary your starting points on the Open Web. Don't assume that social media is giving you the full picture. Switch up your browser's home page, try another search engine and bookmark sites that allow you to surf freely and unfettered.

Eljee
Lauren Garcia is a software developer in the San Francisco Bay Area.