I have something to say about that…

Video: my keynote at ViewSource

I gave the opening keynote this morning at Mozilla’s ViewSource conference in Berlin. View Source has gathered an amazing group of web developers to explore new frontiers in the open web.

I talked about how the open web lets us build it as we like — we get to make the rules. And there are lots of rules left for us to shape. The web is not yet a finished product.

The outline of my talk is below, if you aren’t in the mood for a video.

Text: The rules are fluid, because we make them. We have the ability to shape the web. What should it be? -Hadley Beeman
Quote originally published on @viewsource’s twitter feed at https://twitter.com/viewsourceconf/status/775606536861278208

Outline of my View Source keynote

1. The future isn’t built yet

We’re working on it…

1a) Past

  • Static web for sharing and linking
  • Based on open standards

1b) Present

  • Transactional web for sharing, buying, linking, interacting…?
  • Video and audio, streaming/live, etc.
  • Generated by machine and human, indexed/discoverable by machine and human
  • Based on open standards, but with proprietary stuff running on top.

1c) Future?

What should we do to prepare for when…

  • Web isn’t just on phones and laptops? (Automotive, TVs, watches…)
  • Web users aren’t just people? (Web of things)
  • Web isn’t restricted by current limitations? (Traffic routing, packet size, physics of signal transmission)
  • Web isn’t controlled by a few companies? Or it is? Who are they and what do they do?
  • Web is secure? Web isn’t secure? What does ‘secure’ mean?
  • Role of Web in people’s lives… something we haven’t imagined yet?

2. We don’t all agree what it should be

There are three main groups of authorities that I work with:

  • Standards bodies
  • Governments
  • Users / Developers —JFDI crowd.

Examples of the web not being settled yet:

  • Conflicts within the W3C community:
    • Ads, cookies and ad blockers — browser fingerprinting too
    • EME
  • Conflicts between standards groups:
    • Where do cookies belong — at the IETF or W3C?  Why?
  • Conflicts between us as techies and governments:
    • Net Neutrality
    • Copyright enforcement
    • Digital rights and privacy
    • Spam
  • Conflicts between governments, and societies that expect different things from their governments.  Example: Whose job is it to protect that user from an unscrupulous service making use of her data? Hers and her lawyer’s?  Her government’s? T&Cs (caveat emptor) in the US vs protecting the little guy against a company with too much power (EU)…

Current ways to address these conflicts:

1. On our own… Keep building, keep trying new things. Don’t get stuck in “this is how it’s always been done.” (à la IndieWeb. I don’t always agree with what they make, but I do love that they’re out there trying to make stuff.)

We evolve the web one technology at a time.

2. Standards development

    W3C process. (IETF has something similar). Demonstrate wide review, gather implementations.

  • Groups like the TAG, trying to identify overlaps and conflicts

3. Lobbying and informing governments in action

  • Direct lobbying
  • Responding to consultations
  • Joining governments, working for/with them

3. Democracy (where relevant)

  • Choosing/encouraging leaders who understand technology
  • Getting people to decide what they want. A lot of these are legitimate conflicts and we don’t know the right answers yet.

4. Joining stuff up. TAG examples: Cross-device IDs. TV control over HTTP/REST rather than bespoke device APIs.  Integrating specs and bringing together disparate working groups.

3. You have a big role in this

On the standards side:

  • Evidence-based standards-making
  • Lots of people involved. Doing lots of things.

On the gov side:

  • Educate policy makers. Make explicit where things connect. (Education, protecting commerce, etc.)
  • Understand that decisions in Western democracies (at least) are made ultimately by the population. Get people talking about how the future should work. (Data privacy used to be an expert level gov-as-proxy-for-the-people problem, like nuclear regulation. Now, heading towards community policing.)

Specific questions I’d love you to think about:

1. Economics: How do we encourage people to write articles, make movies and music, if the Internet makes it hard for them to earn money for it? Should we make it easier for them to earn money? (micropayment)

What about ads? Who is in the “right” in ads? The advertiser and publisher, who have a right to monetise their content, or the user who should get to choose what their browser renders?  Who should we optimise for?

2. Security: How do we make the Web secure, when we originally optimised it for sharing? What efficiency/speed/features are we willing to give up? What do we gain?

3. Digital rights: As this becomes more of an every-day issue, how do we help people who don’t understand the technology to tell us what should be built? What are their user needs?

The Web is a system. We’re good at thinking about systems, right? How do we think about this one?