Our Virtuous Internet

Uploading is the democratic part of broadband. It is the tool of the individual against big brother. User-generated content (UCG) is vital to this revolutionHarriet Wakelam.

Do you know how many videos YouTube has created? I would say that it is rather close to zero – we, the people formerly known as the audience,  have created almost all of the value on YouTube. This is user-generated content. It’s the same for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, Flickr and hundreds of other social networks. We built the Web’s value.

The Internet is an empty shell; or just a protocol connecting a world of ends [originally on worldofends.com by Weinberger & Searls but the domain has been re-purchased]:

  1. The Internet isn’t complicated
  2. The Internet isn’t a thing. It’s an agreement.
  3. The Internet is stupid.
  4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
  5. All the Internet’s value grows on its edges.
  6. Money moves to the suburbs.
  7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
  8. The Internet’s three virtues:
    • No one owns it
    • Everyone can use it
    • Anyone can improve it

Recently, I wrote the stub of the Curmudgeons Manifesto with some thoughts on how we need to collectively change our behaviours in order to foster a more open Web. In response to some comments, I responded:

My main interest in continuing this conversation is to ensure that others understand the cost of creating content on proprietary platforms and then losing control after it’s too late. Maybe I should I re-name it the “Pro-actively Pragmatic Primer”?

Here is what I hope is only the start of a more positive manifesto. Based on the above three virtues of the Internet, I suggest the Virtuous Internet Manifesto.

  1. We understand that the Internet’s three virtues are, and must continue to be, that 1) No one owns it; 2) Everyone can use it and 3) Anyone can improve it.
  2. We know that the true value of the Internet is on the edges and that each one of us is a Net contributor.
  3. We will use and promote open data on the Internet that each of us can control as we see fit.
  4. We will share openly on the Internet and not constrain those with whom we share.
  5. We will lead by example and share what we have learned to keep the Internet open for all.
  6. We will help to lead others out of the temptation of using web services that do not respect privacy, re-use, open formats or exportable data.

Searls & Weinberger conclude World of Ends with, “We have nothing to lose but our stupidity.”

5 Responses to “Our Virtuous Internet”

  1. Doug Belshaw

    Harold, really glad that you’ve given your manifesto a positive spin – much better! It’s still a little wordy, though. How about:

    We will:
    1. Recognise everyone’s contribution to shaping the internet.
    2. Use and promote open standards.
    3. Share openly without constraining others.
    4. Lead by example.
    5. Promote and help others recognise the above.

    …and I love the Searls & Weinberger quotation! 🙂

  2. virginia Yonkers

    While I agree with all you and Doug have written, having two teenagers at home, I think it is also important to include:

    1. Hold users accountable for damage they do (both individuals and organizations)
    2. Understand that the sharing of information will have an impact on society and cultures. As a result, it is important that we understand these impacts and are responsible in the internet’s use
    3. Internet communities should have the right to police their own communities to establish the desired social practices within their own networks, but not at the same time constraining other communities

  3. Norman

    It is very difficult to do any of these things in a school without losing your job or encountering such resistence from the other teachers around you that you become marginalized and out of the mainstream.


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