The web was designed as a distributed network of computer servers, in this ‘Web 1.0’ a series of computer protocols were used to allow open exchange of data between people all over the world.
This basic system still exists today, but over time with the advent of standard web browsers the web split into ‘consumers’ and ‘producers’.
Consumers were the people who only interacted with the web through their web browsers, reading content produced and stored on the servers of the producers.
Initially, producers were everywhere – people set up there own servers in universities and companies – produced content for each other and the consumers.
It was hard in those days to run your own server at home, at best people had dial-up connections and those of us who did run servers from these knew they were slow and frequently invoked the wrath of their wives/girlfriends/mothers for tying up the phone line all day – invariably these home ran servers were frequently unavailable.
Gradually, more and more consumers wanted to become producers. At this time running an ‘always on’ server would be far too expensive, and so the likes of Geocities sprang up to fill this gap – free web space for all!
This could probably be classed as ‘Web 1.5’ – the web was starting to get social, anybody could be both consumer and producer with ease.
Over time, this evolved to become ‘Web 2.0’ a completely social web where *everybody* was as much producer as consumer – twitter, facebook, blogger, wordpress – social media and blogging heaven!
The problem with this was/is that the producers were/are not producing just for themselves – but for the third parties who run the ‘Web 2.0’ services. Not only was this content served up to consumers, but it was also used for selling advertising and shared with other third parties who were not the intended recipient (both through the likes of ‘facebook apps’ and invasive data gathering tools such as PRISM).
The solution to this is to re-take control of the content we produce.
A lot of ideas have been thrown about as to what ‘Web 3.0’ will look like, but I believe a central part must be that content producers once again become content servers. Each and every one of us must be in control of our own data.
Most people these days have ‘always on’ internet connections, over the likes of broadband and mobile phones. We are now all in a position to serve all our content ourselves and using encryption technologies such as PGP and SSL restrict access to that content as we see fit.
We are not there yet, it can be done now but the technical aspects are beyond many people who would like to do this. I do believe that everybody should make an effort to understand and use these technologies but a nice simple user interface will be needed before mass adoption will occur.
For those who are interested, some good technologies and ideas are available at the links below:
I plan to start doing a lot more work with these technologies, and even integrating some of the stuff into WSFF (such as replacing the chatroom with encrypted browser to browser communication).
Hopefully some of you out there will play with this tech, and I’d love to here your ideas for decentralising the current Web 2.0 social model.