Darren Mothersele

Software Developer

Warning: You are viewing old, legacy content. Kept for posterity. Information is out of date. Code samples probably don't work. My opinions have probably changed. Browse at your own risk.

Create, not consume. Leaving the walled-garden...

Dec 9, 2013

misc

I’ve toyed with deleting my Facebook account before, and today I finally did it. I want the web to be a better place, and this is my contribution towards that.

Facebook has a well documented history of unethical behaviour, privacy concerns and bullying, but that’s not really my main concern and there’s plenty of documentation about that so I don’t need repeat it all here.

It’s been a year since Anil Dash published The Web we Lost, and the situation hasn’t really improved. In that article Anil laments the loss of the free open web we used to know, as we move towards the monolithic walled garden of the billion dollar social networks.

When I started using the internet in the mid 90s it was a wide open space of free information, and anyone could join, create, and post. Yeah, this may still be the case… but importantly the default option was that you owned and controlled everything you posted online. When I got my first computer as a kid (Commodore 16 for anyone who’s interested), it booted straight to a BASIC interpreter when you turned it on. The default option was to start creating things.

This is not the case today. We’ve traded control for simplicity, and the balance has shifted in favour of consuming, rather than creating.

The often touted ‘big-win’ is that the usability, the mobile apps, and the simplicity of these networks like Facebook have widened the net and bought social web technology into the lives of everyone. Everyone can have a ‘digital life’… create posts, upload photos and share them with friends. But, what they don’t have is control over that ‘digital life’.

I don’t own a TV, but I do know people who spend all their free time glued to the TV watching mind-numbing rubbish. Likewise, I know people who’s instinctive action whenever they have a spare minute is to reach for their phone and check Facebook. I want to help people address the balance between creating and consuming. I want a better web, and I want to live in a world where more people are creators than consumers. I think projects like Mozilla’s webmaker can help with this. But, the first step is to regain control…