Sunday, August 25, 2013

AirBnB for farmers and eaters

This is a post that's been sitting around in my draft box for about a year. It's not doing any good there, so I'm publishing it as is. Does anyone know if a thing like I describe exists?

- Mjumbe



Here's an idea: AirBnB for CSA farmers (and patrons).  For short, let's give it a Web2.0 name like "csa.ly" (someone come up with a better name).

Someone should capitalize on this.  Think about it, everyone needs to eat!

I haven't been a host on AirBnB for long [I'm not any longer, but was for about a year], but here are some of the things that I enjoy about the system, from both host and guest perspectives (we'll call the analogs on csa.ly farmers and eaters):
  • Handle the money - Make sure that it is as painless as possible to get money from the eater to the farmer.  Farmers should be able to focus on farming and eaters should be able to focus on eating.  I don't think farmers get into farming because they like dealing with credit card companies.
  • Don't be greedy - Charge only a small surcharge for farmers.  They're doing the work and it's important that they feel they're getting most of the benefit.
  • Allow bidirectional reviews - In a peer-to-peer network, it's important that not only the eater has a good experience with the farmer, but also vice versa.  Make sure your farmers feel like they're protected against entering into relationships with bad eaters.
  • Focus on the customer service - The success of the site will depend on the how well it facilitates interaction between eaters and farmers.  It should remove as many barriers as possible between an eater finding, getting information about, and contacting a farmer.
And, some things that I wish AirBnB had that csa.ly should (ideally):
  • Let the farmers access their data ... ALL OF IT -- Farmers should have access to simple analytical views on all of their sales data, and be able to get a dump of it all if they want to do their own analysis.
I don't know enough about CSAs (yet) to come up with a complete list of requirements, but here's a start:
  • Farmers should be able to create a profile for their farm where they can post...
    •  pictures
    • a schedule
    • the food they grow/harvest
    • the buy-in they're asking (price)
    • details about how they operate (again, I don't know much, but there's some info under "Variations" at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/)
  • Eaters should be able to find farms that are located near them, or that drop off near them
  • Eaters should be able to leave reviews and ratings of farmers (but only farmers they've received food from), and farmers should be able to rate eaters (but only those that have received their food)
  • Eaters should be able to select (shop for) food from a given farm through the site
Who is the target market:
  • People new to CSAs.  For them, there should be plenty of informational material on how it all works.
  • People who have used CSAs, but are moving to a different area or city.  These people will probably want to keep using CSAs, and need to find one to patronize.
I don't know if one could tell beforehand which of those two groups would be the primary market for the site.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Working towards open legislative data

(I also posted this over on the OpenPlans blog)

A few weeks back, I sent out a solicitation to a bunch of city clerks and other people connected to City Council bodies around the country that use Granicus's legislative management software, Legistar. I was requesting signatures on a publically available letter as a statement of the importance of opening the legislation data that Granicus collects through Legistar. This type of data has been a persistent interest of mine ever since I helped start Councilmatic a couple years ago.

The Method

To find the cities that use the software I searched Google for all sites on the domain legistar.com (i.e., with the search query "site:legistar.com"). Then I wrote a little scraper to step through the pages of that search and collect the subdomains. I took the results and started collecting contact information for the City Council contacts in those cities (see those results here — it's a far-from-complete list). I then contacted the people in that list with a little bit of background about myself, my projects, and the letter's purpose:

The letter is meant to let Granicus know that their clients think that it is important to have their data open and available to the public, specifically through an API. The letter is directed at Granicus because, as the letter states, they are in a unique position to open this data for a number of bodies all over the country at one time. The developers at Granicus are in favor of this type of action, but we believe that hearing from their clients that this is important would help them to prioritize it further.

...Many opportunities for business enterprise, journalistic storytelling, public advocacy, and citizen experimentation are lost when there is no access to quality data sources.

For demonstration of the latter point, see amazing work done by the likes of Open City folks in Chicago, or AxisPhilly in Philadelphia, or work coming out of the Code for America fellowship. There are many more examples of applications built with open data (here's a list of seven more apps covered by Mashable), but the data has to be out there in a way for developers and tinkerers to work with first.

An additional, unstated purpose was just to raise awareness about the value of opening this data, particularly with so many different parties interested in local legislative data recently.

The Response

I received responses from 5 of the people on the list, two from cities that agreed to sign. Both of the cities with favorable responses were from people that I had some prior connection to, at least through some common acquaintance, underscoring the importance of personal relationships and trust when making changes. I think that it is reasonable to expect a low return rate for any cold-call communication. The person on the receiving end is even less likely to response, I think, when they don't understand the purpose of the solicitation. We're still far from a point where an open data vocabulary is common in government. For example, one of the contacts that got in touch with had this response:

Please note that any documents pertaining to the [city represented] that would be available through Granicus/Legistar are already available to any member of the public through our website. I am fairly confident that is true of any city that utilizes their services. Have a good day and a wonderful new year.

The benefits of making data open and available in raw formats is something that I have found difficult to communicate outside of one-on-one conversations. It is definitely a big step to make data available in a human readable format, but computers aren't good at getting information in the same ways that humans are. Enabling people to build new things, tell new stories, and otherwise make the data useful to more people in more ways requires access to the data in a more computationally malleable form.

What's most frustrating is that, often, data is already sitting in a repository somewhere ripe for developers to use. This is evidenced by the fact that many documents, such as every Legistar legislation record, are generated from raw data. That data is simply inaccessible in its raw form. Access to the data is mediated by the format that the document is rendered into. Scraping is an option in this case, but it is an overly complicated, inherently fragile solution, and there are better solutions to be had.

Data openness initiatives like these have a higher chance of success when there are local supporters who understand the issue and can coach city contacts through what it all means. This is the approach that the OpenCity group is taking in Chicago, with some success. If I did this over, I would start with cities that have a local Code for America brigade to help with the outreach.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making Sense of My Thoughts on Civic Software

I spoke on a panel at a conference a couple of months ago: Reinventing Older Communities, Building Resilient Cities.  The panel I was on was titled "Innovation with New Information":
Governments are using technology to better understand challenges and create solutions to meet them. Residents are using technology to report problems to local government for quicker resolution. In this session, we explore how technology is changing the relationship between governments and their constituents and offering greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the process.
I was one of 3 panelists.  Each of us gave a 15 minute presentation on some particular topic.

The topic I chose was "Building software for citizen engagement".  As I struggled to develop my presentation, I realized how general a topic I had chosen (a persistent problem of mine).  A few days before the conference, I had still not been able to nail down my presentation and was feeling rather distraught.  I decided that, rather than continue to bang my head against the topic, I would go see a movie (I admonished myself for relaxing with the conference date so close, but I needed the break anyway).  And it's a good thing I did (it's also a good thing that Joss Wheadon is so talented).  I'll explain why below.

Yael Borovsky from Technically Philly covered the panel and summarized my talk better than I gave it (don't bother watching the excerpt video).  Here is what I wanted to get across:


I went to see The Avengers the other day and it helped me make sense of my thoughts on civic engagement software.  Good civic engagement software should help inspire people to solve achievable, human-scale problems.

I went to a midnight showing -- 12:30 actually -- so when I left the teater it was quite late.  I won't say much about the movie, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone, and the specifics of the movie aren't important anyway.  But I was energized.  I felt like I could leap over cars and take any of the baddest bad guys in a fight if I had to.  I was inspired, and a world of possibility seemed open to me.  Yes, that "world of possibility" mainly consisted of vigilante justice, but that's not important.

Inspiration is a powerful thing.  Unfortunately, in our every-day life, there are too many things that have the opposite effect.  Sure, some things are uninspiring, but I would say that the opposite of inspiration is disempowerment.  One stimulates you to action, the other encourages inaction.  One expands your perceived realm of possibility, the other reduces it.

Disempowerment doesn't always take the form of someone telling you that you cannot do something either.  Often, it is instead a message that there is nothing you can do.  For example, in Philadelphia, the school district is broke.  They're being dismantled, 40 schools are closing next year, and 6 per year for a few years after that.  This is the framing that the issue has most often taken.  As framed, it's a problem that no ordinary citizen can address -- it's a "city-scale" problem (it may be bigger than that, but I'll jst call all big problems city-scale for now).

In the face of this type of problem, people will do two things: (1) consider what effect the problem will have on themselves and their family, and (2) consider what they can do to mitigate the effects of the problem for themselves.  There's not any point of considering a solution to the stated problem, for an ordinary citizen, because it's just too far outside of their circle of influence.  I think this is, again, because of the problem framing.

A few people are able to cut through the problem framing and see that it is in fact a collection of many smaller problems.  For example, the following post showed up in my Facebook feed one day i early May:
Schools are closing and if you weren't already aware moms and dads, the City of Philadelphia isn't offering "Summer Enrichment Programs" either, which means that there will be an exorbitant amount of children in need of some outside tutoring or help from wherever their struggling parents can find it. I wish I had a center that could accommodate every single child being left out due to these horrendous "budget cuts" but I can't. However what I can and will do and you can too is volunteer some of your time this summer on a consistent basis to the youth in your communites!!! I don't want money getting in the way of providing a service that most who need it can't afford so I will be offering my own "Enrichment Program" for a handful of "Early Childhood" age children this summer for free. Every Saturday morning I will offer this service for at least 3 hours. If you have a child in the SW area or are dedicated enough to drive from wherever you are and would like to get your pre-k, kindergarten, or 1st grade child some additional help with reading, phonics and basic math, before the new school year I am sure that we can make some progress together. Again this will be "free enrichment" not free babysitiing so there will be no drop-offs. If your child is here you will be as well...."team work makes the dream work"!!! Inbox me for details and soon so that I can come up with an offcial schedule as soon as possible!!!"

Reframing problems on "human-scale" returns power to humans.  Another simple example: in Boston, in the winter, it snows.  It can snow a lot.  And the snow can cover and bury anything that's stationary for long enough.  It covers everything including fire hydrants.  As a consequence, in the event of a winter fire, emergency personel find themselves wasting valuable time finding and digging out the hydrants.  The city doesn't have resources to dig out all the hydrants.  And neither do you.  This is a problem framed on city-scale.

In the face of this problem, a project emerged: Adopt-a-Hydrant.  This is a web application that allows anyone to "adopt" any particular hydrant in the city.  It says, "when it snows, this hydrant might be buried, so we'll notify you so that you can check on it".  It took a city-scale problem and reframed it to human-scale.  (Access to open data is a part of this.  Hiding detailed information and knowledge about the world behind the wall of Government, and only letting the knowledge out in large aggregated chunks disallows human-scale reframings.  If the city didn't provide data on the locations of all the fire hydrants, Adopt-a-Hydrant couldn't have been built.)

Empowerment is only part of the solution.  The other is what we started with -- inspiration.  Both are crucial.  Inspiration with no real power will fall flat, and power with no inspiration won't even get started.

Make visible the people who are doing things, especially small and local things (the person who shovels out a fire hydrant down the street when it snows has a real impact).  Hold them up as heroes and tell their stories of achievement.  Further, don't just make these people visible, but demystify their process of making change.  People will be more likely to do things if they know how, or at least know that they have access to instructions.


The internet has borne tools successful at doing all of these things: inspiring and empowering people to mobilize resources they have access to in order to make an impact on their own or other peoples lives through access to information, networking tools that augment real-world activity and interest, and technology that removes the hassle of traditional barriers to entry (for example, accepting electronic payment).  The field of civic engagement software remains ripe with opportunity in this respect and I'm eager to see what's developed next.




I'll continue to think about this, and I hope that I get another chance to give this talk (or one like it).  I feel that the content is true and isn't often framed this way, at least when talking about software.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Understanding the Engagement Toolkit

Today, @chachasikes called a meeting of the Pheattle (that's Philly and Seattle combined) team to try to get a clearer idea of one of the projects we're doing with the cities.  I thought it was helpful.  We ended up with a set of ideas that drive us, and a set of metrics that would lead us to feel that whatever we create is successful (see below).

We have been calling the project The Engagement Toolkit.  We knew that the point of it is to be a resource for civic leaders and potential civic leaders to get their initiatives going, but were still fuzzy on the details.  Energy throughout the meeting was dragging.  There was a sense that peoples passions weren't coming out into the ideas that they were expressing.  This was the reason for the meeting in the first place -- we were all having difficulty getting behind the Engagement Toolkit as an idea because we had never agreed as a group why we were working on it.  We could have just gone on and created anything, but (as Chach likes to say), that's not why we're in Code for America.  We're here to create things that we're passionate about; things that we think will address issues that are near to our hearts.  We want to express our love of humanity through our work, and if we're not doing that, then we're not realizing our reason for being here.

After much of the meeting had passed by with our uninspired input, we had an idea to each tell everyone what they were passionate about in regards to what the Engagement Toolkit could be, and what their metrics for success are.  Here are the (abbreviated) results:

What’s exciting?
  • It's a good time.  Community organizing is sexy now. Facebook is watered down. There’s not a hub for inspired people to share their successes -- to show off. Excited about putting together a bar that appeals to organizers' narcicism.
  • Schools in Philly suck, and there are certain groups of super-moms who are teaming up and saying they’ll be involved in their local school, which is horrible, and make it good. There are others who want to do that as well. If we were able to provide a mechanism for sharing those strategies, that would be awesome.
  • Education about and sharing of experience is exciting. There’s so much good that happens that it just makes sense that there should be an easy way for people to learn about what others do.
  • Creating civic leaders. Encourage and convince (or con) non-civic leaders to take action. Turning complainers into civic leaders.
  • Making it exceedingly easy to do something positive in your community.
  • There are cool things that people are doing to make their city a better place, but they’re really hard to find. There are weird ways that people help, and I would like it to be more easy for people to find what those ways are. If it was more transparent and people could see “recipes” for getting things done.
  • Would have loved to have a tool like this when doing community organizing so that I could know who it is that’s out there already organizing events, so that I could talk to them; ask to share organizing letters, contacts, etc.
  • Bringing knowledge from people who know how to get things done to people who don’t know how to get things done. Also, putting the spotlight on people who are doing the right thing.
  • Excited about imparting practices that good leaders have now onto new leaders.
Metrics of success
  • Seeing people getting involved/voluneering because of the ET
  • Seeing people exchanging organizing knowledge through the ET
  • Seeing people organizing who haven’t organized before
  • Seeing people taking action who would not otherwise have
  • Seeing people making an impact on real people in real places
  • Seeing people contributing their stories of successes through the ET back to the ET, demonstrating investment in the community
  • Seeing people getting up to speed with community organizing faster than those who came before them, which we may measure by surveying people when they register
  • Seeing companies wanting to provide plugins for their software to connect with the ET

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Showing Dev Love

I've been thinking recently about how to enhance city institutions using tech skills. I'm still relatively new to really diving into it, but this represents some of my current thinking on the topic.

All I know so far is that this is a two-way street: people need to build up their institutions, and institutions need to support their communities in building them up.

The Gist...

For institutions:
  • Let your community help you.
    (Corollary: Avoid, when possible, legal agreements that restrict you from receiving help from your community)
  • Empower your community to help you.
  • Ask your community to help you.
  • Your community is you.

For developers:
  • Just do it.
  • Have patience.
  • You are your institutions.

Institutions...

Let your community help you. People want to help. Don't push them away (with few exceptions). I love how some of Philly's innovative schools readily accept community support (I'm thinking Science Leadership Academy and Devnuts). Though, the institutions may need to be doing something to inspire community support in the first place.

A corollary here is that institutions need to avoid legal agreements that restrict them from receiving help from their community. Sometimes you just don't know until it's too late that you're involved in such a restrictive agreement, particularly with the pace of new technologies. But at the point of realization, you should from thence treat the restrictive agreement as if it is bad for your institution, because it is.

And giving your community opportunities to express their affection is a good thing. So ask them for help, if you need it. As with any relationship, of course, don't overstep your bounds. And this only works if you have a relationship with your community in the first place. Which you should. If you're really local (not just biding time until you can expand to increasingly larger markets), you need to focus on the relationship between you and your community. For a local institution, your community is you. If your product is not as strong as your competitors', then your community will wise up. And with potentially larger, national competitors with deeper pockets, it may be difficult if not impossible to keep up in perfect step with product quality. But community love (e.g. affective bonds) will keep your patrons with you. Affection is added value.

Developers...

If you have a project that you think would benefit a community institution, go for it. Shoot first, ask questions later. Times that I've taken this approach have sometimes worked out, sometimes not. But I have regretted every instance of not acting. Sometimes this may be bad advice (anyone have stories for the comments?), but if you wait for the institution to back you up, you may be waiting for a long time. Even if you act first, you may be waiting for a long time, but at least you'll have something to do while you wait. You'll have drive to keep going because you can see something happening, and you may be able to pick up supporters because they'll see something happening.

Nothing happens unless someone acts anyway. So it might as well be you. Because, when you get down to it, you are your institutions. They are yours to accept or neglect, shape or destroy.

So if you have the resources, and it doesn't hurt anyone, just get started developing. Legal worries? Worry about it later (of course, comply with any cease and desist orders; but if you get none, then keep going).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OneWebDay Reflections: Tyranny of the Tech Elite

A few weeks ago I attended the Supernova Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. It was great — I got to hear from and talk with so-called thought leaders in business, government, education, and media on topics related to the "network age". While there, I was plagued by a feeling that there was some phenomenon absent from the conversation, but I couldn't identify what it was. Since then, I've reflected and named this phenomenon "The tyranny of the tech elite". This tyranny is a reframing of the idea of digital inclusion. It is somewhat in contrast to the idea of the internet as a democratizer. I'm still struggling with this concept, so take this as a work-in-progress.

(I was going to write this post myself, and have been agonizing over how to do it right. After some research, I found that Joshua Breitbart already wrote much of it for me four years ago. So, in summary...)

The future of us...
The Web is a pretty neat technology. With it, people can do and have done some amazing things.
Generally, we (the educated, technologically savvy, modern-day bourgeoisie...yes, probably you too!) think it's so great that we want everyone to take part in it. So, we talk about technology vis-a-vis marginalized groups like "how do we get them to where we are?" We talk about reducing digital division, and increasing digital inclusion. There are a few assumptions in this: (1) Where we are is good (nay, best, at least for now), (2) They will want/need to be where we are.

Joshua Breitbart has this to say about digital inclusion:
[The phrase "digital inclusion"] carries an implication that people who are offline are being brought into a perfect world. That’s clearly not the case.

What we see in the online world is the result of a land rush where English speaking white men had first crack at the virtual real estate. Digital inclusion is like saying poor people, people of color, and non-English speakers are allowed to shop in white neighborhoods.

This maybe gets to the heart of the tyranny. Access to global networks and technology is a real issue, and it's deeply distressing how closely race, class, gender, and other "traditional" forms of marginalization are correlated with access gaps. However, the digital divide these days isn't so much about people having access to global networks and technology. It's about shaping those global networks and technologies in ways relevant to one's own reality. Defining the future of technology. Some have a much larger hand in creating these definitions for themselves, their neighbors, and their children.

It brings to mind danah boyd's tweetable quote regarding privilege and publicness (at about 30:30 in the video): "...[T]he internet is not automatically a great democratizer." Certain voices get heard farther, louder, and more readily than others, and carry more weight in public discourse. When we observe and analyze how technologies are used, what affects they have, and where we (and our children) are taking them, we do so from a certain perspective, bringing in our own selective focus and our own ideas about which voices to privilege. As it happens, the cultural idea of what "the future" — of technology, of the internet, of us — will be is still left by a wide margin to those privileged voices.

Of course, technology is not novel in this regard. The prevalence of privileged perspectives are as old as hierarchical society (or at least as old as forms of mass media/communication). Marginal or alternative perspectives are always late to the popular discourse. We have to remember that the Web may alter structural inequalities, it does not remove them. This formulation of the digital divide isn't something that can be eliminated by distributing computers and high-speed internet access (though, in some way, that helps).

So...what now?
Joshua Breitbart goes on in his article:
We want to do more than just include people in the online world as it currently exists. We want that new involvement to transorm that world. This is what I hope to imply with the phrase digital expansion. It’s also what I want to imply when I talk about “open internet.”

So how do we achieve digital expansion? I'm not really sure. I half-way agree with Jeff Jarvis that time (and demand) will heal some of these wounds. However, we can't wait around and expect structural inequalities to spontaneously disappear. I have some guesses for first steps (some of these are borrowed loosely from Chicago Digital Access Alliance (CDAA)'s 10-Point Plan for Digital Excellence):
  • Make the internet universally available. This stuff should be a public utility. Or, better yet, a human right. I don't think that access (or lack thereof) to capital should be a determinant in whether one can access the internet or not (capitalism is one of the most frustratingly unacknowledged forms of sanctioned discrimination).
  • Keep (make?) the internet open/neutral. Though, as Breitbart points out, openness on its own is not enough. "Open does not mean equal, it doesn't mean that usage or usefulness is the same for everyone. Access does not equal justice, but it is necessary for justice. Therein lies our work."
  • Be aware of and concerned with social justice issues. They don't go away once you move online. In some ways, they're exacerbated.
  • Invest in people. Digital literacy and fluency are forms of human capital and require public investment. Digital proficiency must be promoted at neighborhood based locations, especially community technology centers, community based organizations and libraries, to strengthen resident understanding of new technologies. And remember that access at an early age is a key factor in raising people who don't just know technology, but are comfortable with it.
  • Build local infrastructure (social and technological). “Price points are one barrier to entry for the poorest community members' use of a network, but so are software design, literacy levels, and misinterpretation of what a community needs from a network,” says Hannah Sassaman, Program Director of the Prometheus Radio Project. Community networks need to be about more than Internet Service Provision — they need to build community-wide Local Area Networks to house information, services, and multimedia on the network itself. Emphasize being a part of a local community and building relationships within that context. Yup, create divides — but divides that are respectful of one another. These will allow diversity to flourish on the Web.

There's a lot more to this conversation (like about how in/effective legislation might be in addressing the issue), but that's a start.



OneWebDay is a global event aimed at giving all people a chance not only to celebrate the Internet, but also to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining the open-networking principles that have made it the success it is. As OneWebDay 2010 approaches, I'll be posting some of my own and other peoples reflections on One Web.

OneWebDay should be local and global simultaneously. It should highlight the ways that people use the web locally, and acknowledge in a non-trivial way that the web they use is the same web that is used the world over—one web.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

OneWebDay Reflections: The Web Ain't Dead, and So What If It Were

Talk of the death of the web has gotten a fair bit of play since the Wired article on August 17. Notwithstanding its grandiose title, there's actually a fair bit of useful content and food for thought in the article (it's actually two articles—one by Chris Anderson and one by Michael Wolff—explaining the same phenomenon from different perspectives).

Fact of the matter
The Web continues to grow. And so does the internet. The Anderson article says that the web — "largely HTML data delivered via the http protocol on port 80 — accounts for less than a quarter of the traffic on the Internet...and it’s shrinking." However, Internet traffic as a whole is growing exponentially each year (interestingly, United States traffic is only growing roughly linearly — check out Cisco's Visual Network Index forecasting tool).

So, while the Wired articles paints this picture:


It seems a lot more like this:

What is the web? (and what's a browser? and an app? ...)
So, the web isn't dead. But so what? As the Anderson article points out,
The Web is, after all, just one of many applications that exist on the Internet, which uses the IP and TCP protocols to move packets around. This architecture — not the specific applications built on top of it — is the revolution.
Not only is the web but one app built on the Internet, but each website can be thought of as an app unto itself, built on top of the Web. In this sense, the Web is very much like an app market. (There is at least one crucial difference between the Web and the App Store as application marketplaces: no one — or maybe everyone — owns the Web1. No one can tell anyone else what can and cannot be put on the Web1.)

Technologies get superseded all the time. Several social networking sites (apps?) have come and gone. A few years down the line, no one really notices. One day, the Web as we know it and access it through web browsers may fall out of favor relative to some other information creation and distribution technology. But probably not any time soon. Unlike the case of the big social networking sites, the Web is not really in competition with the App Store (or any other marketplace). The Web is an open network, benefiting and growing as much as Apple (well, maybe a little less) from the success of the App Stores millions of Internet-aware applications.

Technology, or values?
The danger posed by threats of the death of the Web is not really that we would lose the Web, but rather that whatever takes its place might not be built on the same foundational values as that which gives the Web and the Internet such promise and potential.

So what are the values behind the Internet/Web? I don't know of any comprehensive or authoritative lists, but here are a few around which there seems to be some consensus:
  • Transport Equality — As far as the Internet is concerned, all nodes and data should be equal. No prioritization based on arbitrary distinctions.
  • Collaboration and Transparency — Development proceeds under shared global ownership and is based on open standards.
  • Accessibility and Openness — Anyone should have access the content on the Web, and anyone should be able to create content on the Web.
These are ideals, of course, and there are numerous examples of when they have been violated. However, without these types of principles, the Internet and the Web would be a far cry from what they are today.

If anything right now has the ability to kill the Web, it is our lack of protection of these values. Forgive the drama, but the Web devoid of its principles is dead. This is why this net neutrality stuff is such a big deal. So far, Chile has passed a neutrality bill. Now we're just waiting for everyone else to catch up.

In the mean time, it's on us to protect, express, and spread Web values. At the 2009 Internet Governance Forum, Ian Peter proposed we write 10 Commandments of the Internet. Of course, what these are still need to be determined. His were:
  1. Independence of applications
  2. New applications can be added anytime that’s a core value
  3. Permissionless innovation
  4. Open standards
  5. Accessible and globally inclusive—anyone can use it
  6. User choice—I can choose what applications I use and where I go to with them
  7. Ease of use—I can use it in my language, I can use it in a device I’m familiar with
  8. Freedom of expression
  9. The ability to change rapidly
  10. Trustworthy and reliable is one we have to work on; it’s got to be a core value.
What are your 'net commandments?



Notes:

1This is debatable. Given sufficient resources, there are few limits to what you could do, but ultimately you are beholden to whoever owns the servers your data lives on, and the wires that connect you to the Internet backbone.



OneWebDay is a global event aimed at giving all people a chance not only to celebrate the Internet, but also to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining the open-networking principles that have made it the success it is. As OneWebDay 2010 approaches, I'll be posting some of my own and other peoples reflections on One Web.

OneWebDay should be local and global simultaneously. It should highlight the ways that people use the web locally, and acknowledge in a non-trivial way that the web they use is the same web that is used the world over—one web.