Would It Be Impossible To Create The Web Today?
from the pretty-likely dept
Copyfight points to a wonderful column from James Boyle celebrating fifteen years of the World Wide Web by noting that, if we tried to build the web from scratch today, it’s unlikely it would work very well. The reasoning is that the big companies now realize that they don’t control the web (and the rest of the internet), and that’s freaked them out. If you hadn’t noticed, many of these companies have spent plenty of time over the past few years trying to stuff the genie back into the bottle and take back control. It’s the very openness and lack of control that makes the web worthwhile, and what brought people to it in the first place. Despite what media companies (and connectivity companies) would like people to believe, they don’t own the internet. They came and joined the party because that’s where the people were. They didn’t create it, and they don’t get to control it. What the article doesn’t mention, of course, is that many of these companies were trying to create similar “closed” communities before the web caught on. From the various “interactive TV” trials to things like Prodigy, there were attempts — but nothing really caught on until the barriers came down, and people were allowed to use the network for whatever they wanted. It’s the basic difference between a communications medium and a content medium. The folks who want to control everything view it as a “broadcast” medium where they supply the content. The people who know it’s a communications medium recognize that everyone supplies the content — even if that content is just intended for a tiny audience (even down to just one person). Of course, at the same time, we’re seeing the same struggle in the mobile space, where mobile operators are basically trying to build their own closed web, and are quickly discovering it doesn’t work. So, yes, while it might be impossible to build the web from scratch today, we don’t really need to, because this one exists, and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.