After the first Internet bubble burst around 2001 and the Nasdaq came crashing down to pre-Internet size, most of the world wrote off the Internet as having been a failure or a fad. Douglas Rushkoff said at the time, that it was just the Internet fending off an attack. I was lucky enough to still be investing at the time and was very excited by blogging which emerged from the ashes of the crashed dot-com space.
As I become familiar with the characters active in blogging, Dave Winer was one of those guys who was inspiring, aggravating, but only ignored at great expense. When I first started blogging, I learned a ton from Dave, sometimes by having him attack me for using the wrong version of RSS, but with a conviction to the Open Web and a clarity of mission that seemed almost a bit overboard when it felt like everyone was just trying to do the right thing - when many blogging platforms allowed you to export your whole blog and import it into another blogging platform and everyone was mostly working together on all kind of standards.
I've had my own strong beliefs around decentralized networks from when I was in the ISP business, copyright from when I ran Creative Commons and was on the Open Source Initiative Board, but it was only when I saw Dave just a few weeks ago that his views about the importance of the Open Web, or more precisely, the particular layer of the Open Web that Dave has been so focused on since I've known him, hit me with a big "ah ha!"
We talked about how "the walled gardens" like Facebook and at some level Twitter feed off of the Open Web and need it but how the Open Web was being torn apart from all sides. Even the somewhat reasonable sounding announcement that Google will be lowering page rank for non https: sites will push self-hosted blogs lower in the results.
It reminded me about an argument that Google Translate is trained with human-created translations and that it wouldn't be able to train anymore if the translators went out of business. On the other hand, I suppose we may have figured out better translation training by then or maybe already have. Anyway, I digress.
We talked about how a healthy system probably involves a vibrant Open Web along with for-profit companies and that this balance was important, but how we are leaning away from the Open Web right now. Dave isn't anti-platform, just anti-anti-Open Web. Listening to Dave speak at Ethan's Center for Civic Media group meeting, I realized that I needed to pay more attention to Dave, amplify his message and take some of his recommendation to heart and into action.
If you haven't been tracking him recently, I recommend you do. I think he's speaking up about an important topic and a very timely moment in the evolution of the Web.
Here's a provocative but insightful post about why NOT to post on Medium or at least cross-post to the Open Web, which caught my attention most recently and trigged inviting Dave to the Lab with Ethan.