A few months ago an Iranian blogger named Hossein Derakhshan published an article on Medium.com calling for the re-decentralization of the open web entitled "The Web We Have to Save". After having spent six years in prison for blogging on the open web from within the confines of a repressive government regime, he emerged to find the web had been encircled as well. The irony of his important message being published on a centralized content farm -- not his own blog -- is implicit. The Medium, in this case, is perhaps the message.
The web was originally conceived as a decentralized means of harnessing the power of network effects to defend against communications outtages in the face of catastrophes such as nuclear war. It began as "the internetting" project and was funded by DARPA in the 1970's. Later on, the modern internet we now know was built on top of the Internet Protocol that DARPA had created. Its purpose was to enable a distributed network of computers to share the gargantuan volumes of data produced by the atom smashing CERN project headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The amount of data anticipated to be produced by CERN's nuclear research in its particle racetracks would require a legion of computers. The protocol (HTTP) and language (HTML) of this network were architected by Tim Berners-Lee and and made open to all. The web was born.
In the coming months, this blog will be exploring the implications of the shift we have seen in the last few years from self-publishing on the decentralized open web to the walled gardens of centralized services such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), to the vast shires of sharecropping content farms (Medium, HuffPo) and the cul-de-sac in your pocket -- mobile phone platforms.
The basic hypothesis of this project is that the best, healthiest internet for society at large is the decentralized open web. In particular, we'll be laser-focused on developing tools and information for Independent Journalists, Advocates and Subject Matter Experts working in the public interest. Topics on this blog will include:
* How the centralized web promotes social inequality
* Re-imagining relationships between content creators and content platforms to promote a healthier society
* Resisting the surveillance economy
* Re-defining the boundaries of journalism and advocacy by critically examining how notions of objectivity and subjectivity currently operate in broadcast media -- particularly when it comes to underrepresented communities (POC, Queer)
* Tools and techniques for independent journalists, advocates and subject matter experts
The next post will be the first in a series entitled ACTIVIST SHANGHAI! where we'll start looking at existing as well as emerging Dark Patterns on the internet that make publishing content in the public interest a precarious life's work.