Why the Internet?

Why are we using the Internet as a theme? I started thinking about this idea a few months ago, when I came across the article “The true promise of Interactive Computing: Leveraging our Collective IQ.” I started thinking about how the people who built the Internet and the web had a vision of what it could be and what it could mean for human society, and how we’ve gotten away from that, how we’ve changed course. How it was designed to be open and how we’ve bought into closed spaces. How we can still make of it what we want. I think there are many stories in there, and much we could say about it. But that’s what interests me, and I’m only one part of the group. There are eight billion stories on the open web, and that’s just one of them.

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What does the rest of the class want to make of this? The Internet offers endless possibilities…

One of the things we do in this class is take control of our own pieces of the web. We get to be who we want, and make of our domains what we want. It’s on the web and of the web, so why not make it about the web as well? And since there have been so many articles about the 25th anniversary of the web, it’s a timely theme.

But do we truly own anything in the digital realm? Maha Bali and Audrey Watters have been exploring that question this very week. I think we can have varying degrees of control, but mostly we lease rather than own. Even if I kept my site on a server in my closet, I would still have to lease access through an ISP to technically have a domain on the web. How much control would I have? How much ownership would the ISP have? The post ownership society idea that Watters writes about reminds me of the extractive democracy idea that Bryan Alexander  wrote about last year. This goes back to that tension between what the web is and what it could be. What do we want to make of it?

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