Working on the web and working on the web


Author: Daniel Cuttridge

Working on websites or web apps is not enough to consider yourself to be someone who works on the web.

You can say that you work online or on the internet because that much is true of us both... But you might not be working on the web, you might be working against it.

The old definition of the web was quite broad and goes back to when Tim Berners-Lee coined it, when he invented the web. When he did this he also put in place some guiding values. This broad definition was fine at the time, but today I would argue that we need to change our definition of what constitutes the web.

If you take the technical definition that any website is part of the web. I understand why you feel that way... I just happen to disagree.

I think the web is more than just some technical definition. I look back to those guiding values and the history of the web as well.

The web should be guided and defined by those two things.

The web is an information ecosystem and it was pivotal to the start of the information age.

Some companies act like an invasive species on the web and they hide behind the technical definition. They are only in a position to do this because the web allowed them to thrive. Yet, like some parasites they will feed until they kill the host (something we are seeing in action because the web is not what it was).

You either agree with me on this or you don't.

If we decide to maintain the old definition then I genuinely believe that it won't be long until this web is ruled by a handful of elite corporations that monitor everything you do, keeping you inside of filter bubbles that manipulate your views and even your mood.

Much that once was is lost.

Instead of sharing knowledge on blogs people are shouting on Twitter. More and more sites are setting up paywalls. There are countless amazing sites you will never get to see because of publisher bias.

Google are some of the biggest offenders here. Google have convinced webmasters over a long-period of time to not link to other websites. Now they are creating zero-click SERPs by displaying content they retrieve from websites without explicit permission.

A walled garden is something a company creates when they attempt to control a user's access to content and services. Walled gardens aren't new, companies attempted to create these in the 90s too!

Today, it has been a lot more successful. Now, this is all done in subtle ways where people's views and habits are changed with social engineering.

This has killed diversity & discoverability, and subsequently that has destroyed much of what was fun about the web.

If you work at companies that attempt to create filter bubbles, paywalls, walled gardens... If you refuse to create content because social is *insert reason here*... If you maintain the new status-quo of not linking to and sharing content... You are part of the problem.

Working on the web means improving the web and upholding its values. Not working against the web.

Related: Developers need to turn their attention to infosites.

If you make a living on the web then this should matter to you. All good farmers know that they need to keep the fields healthy if they want to continue experiencing a good harvest. If you enjoyed this short read take a minute to share the article.