I believe in and support the Open Web the Open Internet and the Mozilla Drumbeat Project. In my opinion, Openness leads to innovation and innovation leads to progress and progress is good for us all.
For many non-technical folks, there is a subtle confusion between the Web and the Internet, so an easy way to think about the difference is to think about our roads and highways and think of them as the Internet. This is the Infrastructure that we use every day and do not even think about, just like the Internet. The web, on the other hand, is like the cars and trucks that use our roads. Compare a car to a Browser or a Web Site that rides on top of the road and on top of the Internet. The power of the Web comes from the tools and protocols, programs, APIs, and data that make it work, however, the Web needs the Internet and without the Internet, we do not have a Web.
The Mozilla Drumbeat project is a project that advocates for the Open Web and they are looking for help from you and me. The concept of Drumbeat is to let everyone know about the freedoms of the internet, and how our freedoms may be slipping away from us, and what we can do to help keep the Internet and the Web Open and moving forward.
For many folks our digital roads (Internet) and digital cars (browsers and web sites) are already open and do not appear to be at risk, so what is all the fuss about ? Concerns start when you think about where we have come from and how we have evolved, and by looking at the experiences of other markets over a long period of time.
When Tim Berners-Lee created HTTP and HTML he did not license or charge royalties for his technologies, instead he move it into the public domain for other to use. This is how the Web grew and was literally the start of the Open Web. However since that time, we have witnessed many organizations attempting to carve out their piece of the Web by charging for access to content and data. After a while, charging for and restricting access to content and networks became the norm, but that is starting to change now and we want to make sure that it continues to change.
The Web is evolving along with Technology all around us. Television and Video are moving to the Web and the Internet is moving toward the Television. Fairly soon the Web will be just another channel to access content from your couch, but we want to make sure that all web content will reach that couch and is not restricted by the large media conglomerates responsible for Television today.
Think about the Television and Radio business in the early 60’s. Their focus was on the local news and local programming, and this was very beneficial to everyone. However, over time the heavyweights in the industry started buying all the stations and before you knew it most of the stations were owned by a small number of large media conglomerates. Less competition, less outside interference led to selective programming and reporting that is slanted toward the media conglomerate and not toward the people. We can’t let this happen to the Web.
There are forces in work looking to build a tiered Internet where the large players will have access to a larger faster internet tier that the rest of us will be restricted from. There is a large debate going on now for this Internet change. This if often referred to as Net Neutrality where the premise is that the Internet is a free and open resource and Internet Service providers should not carve up the Internet as it will lead to discrimination of content and traffic on the Internet. I am for Net Neutrality and the Open Web, and I encourage you to explore the Mozilla Drumbeat project and get involved.
For more information about Project Drumbeat, here is a slideshow from the Mozilla Foundation Executive Director Mark Surman on how you can get involved and help the Open Web.