Redesigining the Web

Not long ago, Tim Berners-Lee asked us to think about how to redesign the web to more closely align it with its original vision. It seems the current implementation has strayed. Have any of you thought about how to do that?

One of the things that strikes me is that we (you and I) don’t exist on the web. Sure, there are “helpful” organizations out there that will capture and store as much of our personal information as we’re willing to provide, but the organization that captures and stores it has assumed ownership in exchange for providing a few free trinkets for our use. After you reflect on it, I think you’ll agree we don’t exist, not in our own right, under our own control. A friend of mine thinks this could be called slavery.

What if we changed the web to provide a more equitable presence for each of us? I would create an avatar for every individual. I would make the avatar solely the property of the individual. We would be able to use our avatar in any web environment, retaining ownership of important information in every instance. No organization would be able to confine our avatars within their web environment. We should have the freedom to use our avatar wherever and whenever we choose.

I would also create a governance structure that describes what information (if any) is required to transact activity for every web environment. The governance structure would be crowd-sourced, meaning all of us have the ability to decide what’s appropriate and what isn’t, all the time.

So if such a thing existed, how would you use it? What are your thoughts? Are you interested in making this a reality?

2 Likes

Thank you for the link to Tim Berners-Lee. It was very interesting to read his recent proposal about the state of the internet.

A few years ago I read „You are not a Gadget“ by Jaron Lanier, and he proposed something I felt reminded of by your post. As far as I can recall or what I made of it in my head he wanted a new structure of the web (especially for micro-payments) that allows us to trace back content to the contents creator. Based on what Ted Nelson had in mind way earlier with two-way links. For me the interesting thing about this idea is the thought that we could be represented online with a single avatar, like you said, and our content is there only once as well and connected to this avatar. So for example: Maybe I’m a musician and i create a song and upload it to this web and people want to share it they are only posting a link / reference to the original file, which I then get maybe notified of, maybe I even get payed by people listening to it. (Here is a link I found about it)

I’m not sure this is what you were thinking of, but I wanted to add this to your thought.

It is interesting, as I read your post the only thing I could think of was blockchain. I’m still figuring out what it is all about and how it will influence the internet, not to mention our lives and society, however, it does promise a way for the individual to take control of their own data and be rewarded accordingly.

Try to read these two articles and see if you reach same understanding as me :smile:

Edit: It was a reply to @Sencillo, I’m still trying to figure out how this forum works :laughing:

Also see the related topic in this forum: Towards the Vision of The Decentralized Web!

A two-way link that connects you to everything you’ve ever posted is interesting, but does that mean your avatar is automatically a public-facing thing? In other words, if I traverse the link from the posting, will I reach your avatar and see everything about you? If you choose to remain anonymous, how will I know anything about the person who posted the material? I think this bears some thought.

I believe in decentralization as a concept. Our personal information is only as secure as the weakest repository that contains it. As we’ve seen, there are some very weak links out there. Accumulated information stored in centralized locations seems to be a magnetic target for those who do harm. Individual storage changes the equation.

I don’t see blockchain as a complete solution for personal information. There may be useful applications for blockchain in this area, but blockchain is not where I would start.

On Hacker News I just bumped into this interesting open-source project:

Socialhome is best described as a federated personal profile with social networking functionality. Users can create rich content using Markdown and even HTML/JS/CSS (if set as trusted user). All content can be pinned to the user profile and all content will federate to contacts in the federated social web.

Quite cool! On their roadmap is support for ActivityPub support.

1 Like