The b(ack)log

Is the internet still relevant?

I’m concerned about the general state of the internet. Some examples:

But what stands out most is irrelevance. The internet has become irrelevant! Maybe not for someone like me (a software developer) or for the next startup, but for the average Joe.

For most people the internet is just an implementation detail. They don’t care what standard their Twitter app uses or how things get drawn on the screen. When someone uses an app on their phone, they’re not using the internet, or at least not something I would call an internet. When someone uses facebook, they’re not using the internet. They’re using a proprietary app that runs on computers that are owned and controled by someone else!

I can download and install an open source program on my computer to do almost anything right now, but that is no longer relevant. I upload and manage my files on the internet, I use my email there, I have conversations, collect memories, build a reputation, work and play there.

While the internet is built on open source software, you have almost no control over the mayor parts of the internet you use. You can have backup plans for when a service you are using gets discontinued, something like a emergency response plan, but not ownership or the ability to use, share understand and modify what you do on the internet on your own terms.

The internet is like the PC industry of 15 years ago - full of freeware and shareware. And you’re jumping from one sinking ship to the next with whatever data you can fit in your suitcase. Or maybe you’ve made peace with that and signed over your soul to one of the internet giants?

The situation is bleak! The clouds are falling and the solutions we need are drastic!

The problem is that we currently use and care about the Open Internet while we should be concerned with the Free Internet. For context, read this article from the FSF on the distinction between open source software and free software.

I’ll close with a question - do you think freedom matters for the internet? If so, which freedoms and why?