One web day

I went to a “one web day” organizing event yesterday. I have a bit of ambivalence about the theme, and want to explore the emotion.
The internet is a wondrous creation of humanity. The ability to connect across space and remember across time is stunning to contemplate. It is well worth celebrating.
The model of a “day” dedicated to celebrating, raising awareness, and protecting — along the lines of “earth day”– feels like original and unreconstructed hippie-dom. The level of sincerity and optimism is a bit embarrassing, given the waves of cultural disillusion that followed the euphoria. (mind you, the original earth day, be-ins and what not are all before my time).
Unlike the original Earth Day, One Web Day is assertively anti-anti-commercial. The goal is to embrace the commercial providers, big and small, who help bring the internet to people.
The most well-greased way to make a holiday mainstream in US consumer culture is to drive it with consumerism. Mother’s day was invented to sell flowers and cards. Christmas is used to sell most of everything. It is easy to imagine web day promotions on internet access, Flickr memberships, and other addictive subscriptions.
And yet the most powerful marketers — the telco and content oligopolies — are dedicating vast resources and efforts to make the internet a less connected place, with less of the open access, easy of information distribution, and ease of sharing that make the internet what it is.
When I think about One Web Day, it is hard to think about celebrating the internet without thinking about the amount that is at risk. Much of the remix culture rennaissaince is illegal, or under legal threat, because of bad law. While US telcos try to get laws passed to make municipal broadband illegal, European cities, one after the other, are starting fiber-to-the-home initiatives that will get residents first-class broadband while US connectivity falls behind.
And yet, people won’t engaged in protecting something they don’t think to value. Part of the value of One Web Day is sharing the idea and the feeling that the internet is worthy of appreciation. Wanting to protect it comes as a follow-on.
I guess the way to make it work is to get the themes of protection and sharing into enough hands, and take advantage of the commercial momentum to spread the word.

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