The Web has come a long way. When Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, envisioned the very first foundations of what now is an ever expanding aggregation of hyperlinks, I daresay he did not foresee what kind of transformation he was going to kick off.
This transformation has most certainly brought a lot of benefits to humanity. Unrestricted access to information, reasonably priced global communications and faster shopping than anybody needs. However, this has come at a cost. Companies focusing on commercialising the web for their own profit quickly gained substantial power. These global players have grown so fast and so big, that we are struggling to grasp the full magnitude of the problems they pose.
On the 6th of December 2018 Tim Berners-Lee published an outstanding opinion in The New York Times. In this piece he not only reflects on what has gone wrong in the last couple of years but also outlines a way forward.
To preserve a web that serves all of humanity, not just the privileged and the powerful, we will have to fight for it.Tim Berners-Lee
In this opinion he asks everyone to sign a set of core principles he developed with the World Wide Web Foundation, drafting responsibilities of all actors on the web. This should be a guide for a formal Contract for the Web, holding each and everyone accountable.
So what do I think?
Even though I am not sure at all whether this voluntary contract based on self-regulation is deemed to fail or can actually improve the status quo, at least it is a start. Together with his “Solid” project for a new re-decentralised web and other initiatives actively promoting privacy by design and privacy by default, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. But a lot needs to be done.