1. 38
  1.  

  2. 8

    This is a good start.

    Back in the days when the Internet started gaining wider adoption (1994-2005 roughly), there was a real sense of this tech-tinkerer ethos as we on the frontier of things enjoyed relatively unfettered freedom to mold this new environment. But the rest of the world joined us in enjoying the benefits of this new world and existing power structures reasserted themselves (as in governments - the best book I’ve read about it was written by a sociologist - Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas) or emerged under new fault lines (the newly minted big tech companies).

    I think it was a huge mistake and a wasted opportunity that we technologists didn’t start to explicitly acknowledge these power structures and politics earlier, and that it took us the last decade to painfully learn that this is not our playground or toy when these technologies are wired into the world, and increasingly remake the world.

    We spent decades arguing about open source licenses when people and companies who are used to thinking about and navigating power/politics ran circles around these naive intentions (it’s not sufficient to have the right license, it’s far more important that a project/technology has a healthy community organized around it, a license doesn’t guarantee against a company monopolizing a platform). I think it behooves us tech people to think about power & politics, because we have influence to affect changes - good or bad, and pretending that we don’t (“let’s just stick to technology”) biases outcomes more towards the bad end of the scale.

    That’s why I like RFC8890 and Mark’s post, the approach isn’t hopelessly naive, it acknowledges the politics and tension around different interests and plonks down a good approach in its own corner of the tech world. In its own it’s not sufficient, but at least it finally heads in the right direction that we can build on.

    1. 4

      The WHATWG charter has said as much for 15 years (priority of constituencies). Google has still stomped all over everyone.