The web idealists have a point: content can't truly blossom in walled gardens
By Russell Davies, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 12 June 2014 08:00AM
There's a small and growing movement known as the "IndieWeb". I hear more about it every day.
The movement being what it is, there is not necessarily a canonical, single set of principles, but here’s something close, and it sums the idea up pretty well:
"Your content is yours. When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control."
It echoes Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s call for a "re-decentralisation" of the web. It’s probably no coincidence that many of the leading IndieWebbers remember the first age of development, the time of "small pieces loosely joined", of open and hacked-together blogging platforms, of personal publishing.
These people wouldn’t necessarily object to posting their content on LinkedIn or Facebook or wherever.
But they don’t want to depend on those places in the long term. They want a backup, under their control, on their server.
It's no coincidence that many of the leading IndieWebbers remember the first age of development
Ideally, a place where the linking and commenting can be preserved. If you post your content on someone else’s domain and that domain goes away, you don’t just lose the content, you also lose the context that made it so valuable.
This little band of web idealists actually have quite a lot in common with some of the world’s largest corporations. They all embarked on the exciting adventure of building their own websites, experimenting with content management systems, blogs and Flickr accounts before being lured to the ready-made audiences offered within the confines of Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
These places also offered attractive packaged deals that made the randomness of the web look a bit more like the familiar world of old-school media.
So corporate sites were allowed to wither, housing PDFs of annual reports and out-of-date opening hours, and the real effort was poured into these new walled gardens.
And, now, everyone’s not quite so sure; these are precarious places. Do you want Facebook to decide how many people your "free" content reaches? As strange as it sounds, maybe corporations should be investigating the IndieWeb – they might be fellow travellers.
Russell Davies is a creative director at Government Digital Service
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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