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← GV Face: Happy 25th Birthday, Web!

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Showing Revision 11 created 04/05/2014 by Dove the Beta.

  1. Ellery Roberts Biddle [mid-sentence]: ...Our weekly video hangout series!
  2. I think - let's see, we started a little bit off time
  3. so I'll say it again:
  4. Ellery: Welcome to GV Face, our weekly video hangout series!
  5. Today, we are celebrating the 25th birthday of the world wide web.
  6. Pretty exciting. That was on Wednesday.
  7. Um, we've got a really all-star lineup of guests
  8. on today's program.
  9. Um, moving from left to right, we have:
  10. Alan Emtage, a very special guest who is
  11. gonna talk to us about his very special creation
  12. of, uh, the first web browser...
  13. Um! We have Jeremy Clark, in Montreal -
  14. Jeremy is a technical director at Global Voices.
  15. Josh Levy, from Free Press,
  16. in Massachusetts, in the U.S.
  17. and Renata Avila, campaign manager
    for the Web We Want
  18. Creative Commons extraordinaire, and
  19. GV star, who is joining us from Berlin!
  20. Welcome, everybody!
  21. Um. So we wanted to start today's show
  22. by talking a little bit about the World Wide Web
  23. and the internet.
  24. 'Cuz a lot of people think that they're the same thing
  25. when actually, that's not quite true.
  26. I want to first turn to Jeremy
  27. and just ask, Jer, could you
  28. break it down for us, like,
  29. I thought that the internet was invented in the 70's
  30. but, if it's the 25th birthday of the web,
  31. what does that mean?
  32. Jeremy Clark: Okay, well, the
  33. best place to start, I think, is
  34. the internet - it has existed in various formats
  35. since the 1970's, as you said,
  36. but it was the web that really made it
  37. enter our homes.
  38. and, so, understanding the relationship is important.
  39. So, the internet was invented by
  40. the U.S. Government in a lot of senses...
  41. ...a mix of military and science funding
  42. that developed the network of
    actual computers
  43. that can communicate with each other
  44. over wires.
  45. Now, another related technology that is also compri--
  46. [amends] uh, built in to the web
  47. is called hypertext. And that is the notion
  48. of documents that can link between each other
  49. immediately, without having to go and fetch
  50. a separate document. Um.
  51. So there were lots of systems since the 1960s
  52. that were trying to implement hypertext, like,
  53. Xanadu is an example,
  54. uh, but all of them were commercial,
    expensive, closed,
  55. and none of them were very popular.
  56. So, Tim Berners-Lee, who is the
    "inventor of the internet,"
  57. [corrects himself] of the web,
    obviously, the World Wide Web -
  58. Um. [Tim Berners-Lee] put those two things together
  59. by building a service that runs
  60. on top of the internet, and he
  61. called it the World Wide Web.
  62. So what the World Wide Web is, is the
  63. decentralized hypertext engine
  64. that we use to communicate between
  65. computers' web pages.
  66. So what makes up WEB is three things:
  67. URLs, or URIs - Universal Resource Locator,
  68. which are the addresses we use
    to find things on the web;
  69. HTML, which is the
  70. HyperText Markup Lanuage
  71. which is the way that the information
  72. is stored and sent
  73. so that we can then use browsers
  74. to view HTML, and then
  75. all the documents can be understood
  76. and then also they display the links
  77. so that the hypertext part of it works
  78. and we can jump around from page to page.
  79. Um, the final part is HTTP, which is
  80. the HyperText Transfer Protocol
  81. which is the communication method
  82. by which the different computers can
  83. talk to each other and send the
  84. HTML documents back and forth
  85. depending on the URLs.
  86. Um. So, when he built it, there were some
  87. very important things that he
    built into this system
  88. that didn't exist before.
  89. And the main one is
  90. universal authorship.
  91. So he always intended that anyone
    would be able
  92. to access these webpages,
  93. and anyone would be able to
  94. add their own webpages,
  95. without asking for permission.
  96. With the very explicit special condition
  97. that anyone can link to any other webpage
  98. without permission.
  99. Previous hypertext systems required that
  100. basically, for you to link to me,
  101. I have to accept that link,
  102. and probably create a link back to you,
  103. and that wasn't required on the Web,
  104. which gives us a lot of freedom
    to link to people
  105. who wouldn't want us to be able
    to link to them, for example,
  106. so no one can say "I'm putting up free content..."
  107. "...but you can't send your readers here,
    because I hate you," et cetera.
  108. The other one is that he made it
    completely, completely free.
  109. So in the world of
    inter--[fumbles for words]--programming
  110. the most free thing is generally considered
  111. to be the GPL [General Public License]:
    open-source, free software licenses.
  112. uh, and Tim Berners-Lee actually almost used
  113. the GPL, because he wanted the web software
  114. he was building to be free.
  115. But at the last minute he actually changed his mind
  116. and made it full public domain,
  117. because in certain ways,
    the GPL is actually more restrictive,
  118. because it forces other people -
  119. like, certain commercial actors
  120. wouldn't have wanted to use web technology
    if it were GPL,
  121. so he made it full public domain,
  122. and then from there went on to make all of the standards
  123. as open and, uh, general and free as possible.
  124. Uh. So that's my extremely brief
    history of the internet.
  125. If anyone is curious,
    he wrote a wonderful book
  126. called "Weaving the Web" about his experiences
  127. [enticing tone] As you can see, it's short!
  128. And he has lots of interesting technical information in it
  129. without being overwhelming.
  130. It's very approachable
  131. and he's a really interesting person
  132. and it - the book is much better than his tweets,
  133. which are usually incoherent.
  134. [one of the participants huffs out a "whew"]
  135. Ellery: Ouch!
    Jeremy [?]: A few minutes?
  136. Ellery: Thanks, that was - that was great, Jer!
  137. Ellery: I mean, I think that that helps
  138. um, in conversations about internet policy,
  139. and internet governance,
    there's a lot of emphasis
  140. on the ability to, kinda, create and innovate
    without permission?
  141. Like, for everybody to be able to build parts of the web.
  142. And what you just laid out for us
    makes it clear
  143. how important [expansive gesture] the Web piece of the infrastructure is
  144. for that, for that capacity to become
  145. a real tangible thing, and somebody that -
    [amends] something that now
  146. we can do - we don't have to have
  147. technical expertise to kind of build our own
    spaces there.
  148. Ellery: Um. So, I wanted to -
    Jeremy: So um.
  149. Jeremy: If I could add just one more thing, sorry -
  150. Jeremy: I just wanted to give a couple examples
  151. of things that happen over the internet
  152. that aren't the web,
  153. because that was the actual initial question.
  154. So, one example would be torrents,
  155. where you're the - two computers
    connect to each other,
  156. and stream information directly, without any URLs
  157. being mixed into the process.
  158. Um, another one is - email, at its core,
  159. is its own communication protocol
  160. that doesn't have to use the web,
  161. although we often use web sites
    to access and manage our email.
  162. Umm. And then another one was the one
    right before the Web came out,
  163. a very popular protocol was called Gopher,
  164. which people liked, and sort of worked like the Web
  165. - you surf around and find things -
  166. but it actually became commercial
    right around the time that the web came out,
  167. so people would've had to start paying,
  168. and instead of starting to pay,
  169. they switched to HTTP, HTML, and
    the World Wide Web.
  170. Ellery: Thank you.
  171. Ellery: So I want to move to Alan, now... Um,
  172. Alan built the first search engine.
  173. And I'm kind of... like, overwhelmed, and feel sort of
  174. like, giddy and nervous having him here.
  175. Ellery: This is just -
    [Alan laughs]
  176. Ellery: This is, like, a really big deal!
  177. Ellery: So, Alan, just - if you could tell us -
  178. 'cuz I think a lot of people don't know about Archie -
  179. um, it would be really cool just to hear
  180. about how you sort of - what you were doing
  181. that made you decide to, to do this
  182. and kinda what it was like, and then, I mean,
    everything you've seen since...
  183. Unfortunately we're time limited, but...
  184. Alan: Right.
    Ellery: You know.
  185. Alan [coughs]: Well, um, uh, well, that was back in
  186. 1989, and, I was working as a system administrator
  187. for uh, McGill University - I was a grad student
  188. for McGill University - and um, I was responsible
  189. for getting software for - one of my responsibilities
  190. was getting software for the faculty and the students.
  191. And at the time, the three major
    protocols on the internet
  192. - this was pre Web, ummm -
  193. was, uh, Telnet, which would allow you to log in
  194. to a remote machine.
  195. Email, ah, which would allow you to communicate
  196. ah, with another - as we do now, with a, with a
  197. remote machines, plural,
  198. and, and FTP, which was the File Transfer Protocol,
  199. which allowed you to move, ah, data files, or files
  200. from one machine to another.
  201. And at the time what we had was - people had made
  202. - remember it was a non-commercial internet
    at the time -
  203. - actually, commercial traffic was forbidden
    on the internet at the time,
  204. because it was run by the
    National Science Foundation
  205. and it was using educational money
  206. and therefore other than companies with
  207. research arms, like IBM and HP
    and those kinds of things,
  208. we didn't have any commercial traffic on the internet,
  209. which nowadays seems kind of amazing
    to even think about -
  210. and, ah, so what people did, were to provide
  211. to provide free space on their machines
  212. - and remember, you know, at the time,
  213. a big disc would be a megabyte, you know -
  214. and so people would provide common repositories
  215. that you could deposit programs that you had written
  216. datafiles, and documents, and that kinda stuff.
  217. into these central repositories that were
  218. spread around the internet.
  219. Then other people could then retrieve them.
  220. And so I spent a lot of my time trying to locate
  221. software, or the information that my, the
    students and the faculty were trying to find,
  222. and I got tired of it.
  223. and since I'm lazy and a geek, I...
  224. I automated the process.
  225. I got - instead of doing it manually, I had a bunch
  226. of scripts wake up in the middle of the night
    every night,
  227. and go out and index these files.
  228. Now remember all of this was just file listings.
  229. It's not like Google, it's not like
    a search engine would be today,
  230. it is just... filenames. All it was, was filenames.
  231. And so what it would do
  232. was it would go out every night,
  233. list all the filenames in all the repositories,
  234. and allow you to search lists of filenames.
  235. And I only used it for myself!
  236. I only used it, um, uh, for my own personal use.
  237. Um, and at one point my boss,
  238. who was also a student, a grad student at the University,
  239. let Peter Deutsch let it be known that, um,
  240. somebody was asking for, you know,
  241. could they, could somebody tell them where, um,
  242. y'know, a particular piece of software was.
  243. And, uh, uh, we, um, uh... we, you know,
  244. he came and asked me,
    he knew we had this database
  245. and he came and asked me if I could help out.
  246. And I gave it to him, and if, y'know,
  247. half a sec- half a minute later I had the information,
  248. and so he put this posting online, and, umm.
  249. People then started asking,
  250. "Well, can you find this for me?"
  251. And, you know, all these manual requests!
  252. Basically - either through email, or UseNet postings -
  253. - which is what we were using at the time -
  254. we thought, well, this is silly,
  255. there's no point doing these things manually
  256. when we can just allow people access
    to the database itself.
  257. And in a moment of insanity,
  258. we had to come up with a name for it,
  259. and I said, "Okay, well, let's just call it ARCHI-E,"
  260. which is "ARCHIVE" without the V
  261. And, ah, and within about three or four months
  262. we were consuming about half
  263. of all of the traffic to eastern Canada
    [where McGill University is]
  264. as this search engine became - as people, y'know -
  265. - word of mouth -
  266. you know, people who know about Archie
  267. are generally people of a certain age...
  268. ...I won't mention what that age is, but
  269. it's generally people who were in university
  270. or working on the internet, so it would have been
  271. so it would have been research people,
  272. people in academia in the early nineties.
  273. So Archie lasted for about, uh,
    [hems and haws]
  274. Five years. Four or five years.
  275. And, um, it only indexed FTP archives.
  276. It never indexed the web.
  277. Now, I went on, as Archie became popular,
  278. and I got more involved in the standards process
  279. and that kind of stuff,
  280. I worked, uh, fairly closely with Tim Berners-Lee
  281. to, uh, to standardize - for example,
  282. I did the - I ran the committee
  283. at the standard-setting body for the internet,
  284. which is the IETF
    [Internet Engineering Task Force]
  285. to standardize URLs.
  286. Because Tim had come up with
  287. a set of rules for URLS,
  288. and as we looked at expanding that
  289. to a larger range of resources,
  290. we realized that those rules did not cover
  291. all of the cases.
  292. So, we worked, for, uh - Tim brought the,
  293. the specification, his original specification,
  294. to the group, and we worked on it for,
  295. I don't remember, nine months to a year or so,
  296. to come up with a standard for URLs.
  297. So all of those URLs that we use,
  298. day in and day out,
  299. were, were standardized as a result
  300. of that committee.
  301. So, it was, um, it was a really exciting time,
  302. it was a time of, y'know - the question I always get
  303. is why didn't make a billion dollars off of it?
  304. And I keep reminding people that
  305. most of the people who were pioneers -
  306. with the exception of Marc Andreessen
    [who co-founded Netscape]
  307. uhm, didn't make a whole lot of money off of these, these original things.
  308. We were working in an environment which, uh,
  309. put a premium on getting the technology out there
  310. making it as widely available as possible -
  311. Tim's big coup with CERN,
    [European Organization for Nuclear Research]
  312. which is the organization that he worked for
    when he first developed the web ,
  313. was to get CERN to put, um, the web software
  314. that he had created into the public domain.
  315. So it wasn't even his to give away,
  316. it was CERN's property.
  317. As an employee [of CERN],
    [Tim's work] would actually belong to CERN.
  318. Uh. He, he actually convinced them
    to put it in the public domain
  319. and that's what really, uh, y'know
  320. set [amends] lit a fire under the whole thing.
  321. At the time, the philosophy behind it
  322. was really, "Let's get this out there,
  323. "..this is a brave new world,"
  324. "..we don't know what all of this
    technology's gonna be used for!"
  325. I don't think any of us - including Tim -
  326. imagined what it would become.
  327. Y'know, he, he always had a much grander vision of it
  328. but I don't - I can guarantee you -
  329. I've spent many, many, many, many an hour
  330. with drinks, in bars, drinking with Tim,
  331. and I can guarantee you that he did not
  332. - Sir Tim, by the way, Sir Tim -
  333. Um. I should - y'know, he even, he,
  334. I don't think, had any idea that it would basically
  335. take over the world.
  336. and half the world's population would be using
  337. the system that he created, twenty years later.
  338. [corrects himself] Twenty-five years later.
  339. Ellery: Thank you so much.
  340. Ellery: I mean, so, speaking of which, yeah,
  341. it has changed, and, I guess, [chuckles], taken over, in a way,
  342. um, that we, I'm sure, wouldn't have expected.
  343. I wanted to now move to Josh and Renata,
  344. who are both [something falls to the floor]
  345. very [she looks at the fallen object, winces]
  346. committed, involved leaders in what has now
  347. become a global effort to - I mean,
  348. the way that we're sort of putting it
  349. is "save the internet"
  350. or, preserve and protect the openness
  351. and all of the rights to free expression, access, um,
  352. and also privacy, that we all feel are embedded
  353. actually, in the way that it was built.
  354. So, Josh, I wondered if you could explain to us
  355. really briefly what your role is in your organization
  356. and then also, um, tell us about
  357. the Web We Want campaign, and explain, y'know,
  358. how you think this rights movement is shaping up
  359. and if you could kind of link it with everything that
  360. Alan just laid out for us,
  361. that would be really wonderful.
  362. Josh Levy: I'll do my best.
  363. Josh: So, my name is Josh Levy,
  364. Josh: I'm from Free Press,
  365. we're a U.S.-based organization,
  366. we advocate for better technology and media policy
  367. that allows for an open internet,
  368. for better representation of people in the media,
  369. including in, in media that's online,
  370. and for open access to information.
  371. And this issue that we're talking about -
  372. the anniversary of the web -
  373. is really central to our work,
  374. because we've been fighting, for example,
  375. to pass strong Net Neutrality policies
    here in the U.S. for years.
  376. Basically ever since the issue first came up,
    in the mid-2000s,
  377. when we saw big internet service providers
  378. blocking traffic coming from certain destinations.
  379. And that fight is ongoing.
  380. The FCC, the Federal Communications Commission here in the U.S.,
  381. which is charged with overseeing communications and technology policy,
  382. passed rules in 2010
  383. that were intended to protect Net Neutrality
  384. but were passed in a way that we knew
    wasn't gonna hold up in court.
  385. And we were - unfortunately,
  386. we saw that happen earlier this year,
  387. when a court in Washington, D.C.,
    threw out those rules,
  388. effectively throwing out any Net Neutrality
    protections that people have.
  389. And so this gets back to what Jeremy was saying
  390. the "internet" versus the "Web," right?
  391. So when we're talking about Net Neutrality,
  392. which I hope a lot of people have heard of,
  393. this concept that we should be able to access any information that we want online
  394. without anybody getting in the way, whether that's a big company or the government -
  395. that is, essentially, that's a policy that applies to the internet:
  396. to the ways in which all of our computers
    connect to each other.
  397. And we have this basic understanding
    that the internet should be free and open,
  398. meaning that my computer should be able to connect
  399. to yours in this global network of computers
  400. without any entity inspecting the traffic,
  401. trying to understand what you're trying to access,
  402. and, based on that understanding, block it.
  403. So if it doesn't like the video you're watching,
    [it would be] slowing it down;
  404. or, if it doesn't like the application you're using, blocking it -
  405. - that, that should be totally unacceptable.
  406. We should be able to connect to whatever we want in whatever way we want.
  407. And that includes using the Web, right?
  408. So the Web is basically an application that rides over the internet.
  409. The internet's this global network,
  410. the Web is just one application that
    uses that global network.
  411. And so it's essential -
    Net Neutrality is essential to using the web,
  412. because as we've seen today,
  413. using the web is so essential to all of our lives
  414. and big companies, and governments, have so much power over it that they can block all kinds of things:
  415. political speech, videos that we wanna watch, pictures of cats, et cetera.
  416. So. Um, anyway, so that's what Free Press is doing,
  417. in large part, trying to protect
    that notion of Net Neutrality.
  418. And out of that fight came a number of campaigns,
  419. including the campaign to stop SOPA
    [Stop Online Piracy Act]
  420. - which was the bad copyright bill a couple years ago here in the U.S. -
  421. and out of that came a realization, I think,
  422. here in the U.S. but [also] around the world,
  423. that we all needed to kind of talk to each other a little bit more,
  424. those of us who have been advocating for a free and open internet for a long time.
  425. And so we started doing that:
  426. Free Press led the development the drafting of
  427. something called the
    "Declaration of Internet Freedom"
  428. which was a simple statement of principles
    about our right to access information online.
  429. And out of that came a really fruitful relationship with Tim Berners-Lee's organization,
  430. - the World Wide Web Foundation -
  431. and we discussed ways in which we could move that effort forward,
  432. this Declaration effort,
  433. to involve more groups around the world,
    more people around the world,
  434. and to guarantee that we all have
    access to information
  435. and that that access, and the principles behind it,
  436. are not the domain of any one country,
    or any one group of individuals.
  437. So, out of that came this great project,
    the Web We Want,
  438. which Renata's gonna tell you more about.
  439. which is seeking to do just that:
  440. to pass laws, around the world, that will protect people's right to access the internet
  441. and to access content on the Web
    without anybody getting in the way,
  442. and, uh, it's building steam very, very quickly:
  443. we are working with countries around the world to develop their own set of principles
  444. regarding the web and our rights on it,
  445. and organizing lots and lots of organizations that are really excited about getting involved in this effort
  446. and our dream of uniting groups who are all fighting the same fight but in different parts of the world
  447. is kind of coming to life.
  448. So, I'll let Renata tell you more about that.
  449. [Caveat: Renata is not a native English speaker, so verbatim transcription of her speech doesn't always make perfect sense.]
  450. Renata Avila: Eum, hello everyone, everybody,
  451. it's really good to be here?
    [she tends to uptalk]
  452. Renata: Ah, so: the Web We Want.
  453. The Web We Want is a coalition of
    [gestures as she searches for words]
  454. very important groups of organizations
    from civil society
  455. I will mention of them:
  456. Access, that many of us are familiar with;
  457. APC;
    [Association for Progressive Communications]
  458. Free Press, from the U.S.;
  459. 7iber, in Jordan;
    the Open Source Association, in Jordan as well;
  460. [ums and ers]
  461. Consumers International; Article 19;
    Fundação Getulio Vargas, in Brazil;
  462. IT for Change, in India;
    Public Knowledge, in the U.S.;
  463. and we, we have a - we got the confirmation that Open Knowledge Foundation,
  464. which has affiliates all over the world,
    will join as well.
  465. So, basically, the campaign...
  466. ..what we are trying to achieve here
  467. is to move from the reactions,
  468. the constant reactions that
    the civil society/ we have,
  469. to a proactive approach.
  470. To have a positive agenda, to have the safe first, in different countries.
  471. And also globally.
  472. And what happens is usually that we come together last minute -
  473. we react to bad legislation being proposed,
  474. by either specific groups of interest, or a very
    creative but not so well informed legislator...
  475. And so, in the last, let's say, five years,
  476. we have seen so many mobilizations against, against, against.
  477. So we think that yes, it's good to have a reaction to bad legislation,
  478. but it's much more effective to have a proposal coming from civil society.
  479. And not only - like, civil society understood as a -
  480. a more extended way as we usually use it in internet governance -
  481. but civil society involving everyone
    in a fight for our rights.
  482. And so we have different activities and
    different actions to achieve that.
  483. The first would be intense work in
    specific countries where we [gestures]
  484. together, all the advisory committee,
    so that there's something going on,
  485. some movement in civil society,
    and there's some action there.
  486. So, the list of the countries that we have decided will be like the first "grant-ees"
  487. of um, more stronger support from the punt, uh, the, the, where we want manages...? will be:
  488. Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, the U.K., Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya...
  489. ...and South Africa.
  490. So, as you see, it's mostly
    countries of the global south.
  491. Also the U.K., because we saw an opportunity there,
  492. and we also saw a regression of rights.
  493. It is very interesting to see how the
    deterioration of rights in a country -
  494. - even in a democratic country -
  495. in the last ten years, has been very extreme.
  496. And this is really affecting the region.
  497. Apart from this intense work that we are planning to do,
  498. having national dialogues in these countries I informed you of,
  499. we have also - we are launching,
    on the 21st of March, a mini-grant round.
  500. The mini-grants are for everyone to apply,
  501. so you don't need to be an NGO,
    [Non-Governmental Organization]
  502. you don't need to be an expert to apply for these grants.
  503. What we want is normal people -
  504. - artists, musicians, everyone -
  505. to be involved in this and to, eh, [unintelligible] to celebrate, to party for the Web!
  506. But at the same time that we celebrate the Web,
  507. we start a conversation on what is the web we want?
  508. What is - [struggles for words]
  509. - which values, which form we want, which way we want to protect the Web in our countries.
  510. The free and open Web.
  511. And so it can be something as simple as
    a screening in a public space?
  512. It can be more elaborate,
    like a talk at your local library?
  513. It can be anything you want,
  514. it can be even a sculpture in the middle of a city.
  515. ah, telling people what the Web
    represents [means] to you.
  516. But also, we know that we cannot abandon
    those fighting "against."
  517. So we have rapid response grants.
  518. And these rapid response grants are for, eh -
  519. we, we have identified that sometimes to make something happen,
  520. you need some resources.
  521. Especially in some countries in the global south.
  522. So. For example, ehh, think about
    a very bad surveillance law,
  523. about to be passed in, oh, Nicaragua.
  524. So, this rapid response -
  525. - which will be open during the whole year -
  526. - will allow activists to say, "Hey, listen.
    This very bad thing is happening..."
  527. "..and we think that if we gather a group of people together..."
  528. "..and we print, uh, leaflets, and we make a short video about that..."
  529. "..we have a good chance to shift the opinions to our side..."
  530. "..the side of right."
  531. And so that will be open as well.
  532. that will be open on the 21st of March, and remain open the whole year.
  533. And what we will achieve at the end of the year is a very interesting collection of experiences.
  534. We will see that - [finds her words]
  535. what is the Web people want,
    in the specific countries,
  536. with more intense follow-up
    mechanism and dialogue.
  537. We will also see which techniques are
    the best for rapid response
  538. when there's a threat to the open internet.
  539. by the collection of experiences from the rapid response grants.
  540. And also we will learn from ways to engage the broader public in our topics and in our issues.
  541. So I am very hopeful that especially
    artists, or very creative activists,
  542. will find ways to engage the broader public.
  543. Because we need - this is ours.
  544. The future of [the open internet]
    depends on us preserving it.
  545. And the more people invited to this fight,
    the stronger we get.
  546. At last, I will... I would like to invite everyone to be engaged the way that you can engage.
  547. And to apply for these grants!
  548. But not only to apply for these grants -
    also, to make things your own.
  549. If you want to write an article,
    if you are an expert on specific topics,
  550. please write articles,
    please share your knowledge with people,
  551. and please engage, and don't be apathetic.
  552. Because the Web offers us -
  553. - and the internet offers us -
  554. - this opportunity to communicate and connect beyond borders,
  555. and I think that, slowly, we are building this platform -
  556. - which is not a website but is a platform made of [amends her description] collective –
  557. - that is ready to jump and to take actions to save the web any moment that it is under threat.
  558. So. Yes. That's it.
  559. Ellery [laughs]: Thanks.
  560. Ellery: It's really - I think it's great to sort of,
    to have that out there,
  561. for people to understand all the ways
    that they can get involved.
  562. One thing I - so, in thinking about how can we make a little show today that would celebrate the web,
  563. I couldn't help but think about Global Voices,
  564. because that's what brings us all together here,
  565. and, I think that our community, in so many ways -
  566. I mean, we couldn't exist, wouldn't exist,
    without the Web,
  567. but there are also so many particular attributes of it,
  568. when it comes to access and openness,
  569. that allow us to do all the things that we do,
  570. like, including this hangout, right now.
  571. Um. So I wanted to ask -
  572. - although we're really short on time,
  573. so I'm gonna have to ask you to be super brief, but -
  574. Jer, you, I kind of, I said, is there...
  575. ...could you talk a little bit about what,
    if you look at Global Voices,
  576. and sort of the way that it's grown up,
    um, with the internet -
  577. - you've been here since the beginning,
  578. so you can kind of - just, just tell us a bit.
  579. Jeremy Clark: Okay, well, uh,
  580. Jeremy: I actually haven't been with
    Global Voices since the very beginning,
  581. but I joined near the start.
  582. So, maybe you can see on my screen -
  583. - Global Voices was started actually in 2005, um,
  584. and one of the great things about the story is that
  585. it was started quickly and easily by Ethan Zuckerman
  586. who set up the original site, uh,
  587. along with Rebecca McKinnon,
    who worked on the idea and the content,
  588. and so, they actually used WordPress, which
    is the system we still use today,
  589. and which is very similar to the Web
    in a lot of senses
  590. because it's a distributed project,
  591. people all around the world develop it,
  592. it's open-source, and it's free,
  593. and it is so not by convenience but very explicit philosophy and they're very active in defending that,
  594. and also in another way: uh, originally, at the time,
  595. there was a very popular free software
    called Movable Type
  596. which became commercial,
  597. and instead of starting to pay for it,
    people switched to Wordpress.
  598. So, this was our original website.
  599. We later redesigned it several times.
  600. And over the years, we have grown with WordPress
  601. to add - take advantage of the new features, and, uh...
  602. [gestures] - keep running our site.
  603. And so running our whole infrastructure on this very decentralized open-source model has been
  604. a really rewarding experience for us,
    just as using the Web has.
  605. And obviously, the, uh, one of the most
    interesting things is that
  606. Global Voices is all about the web.
  607. Without the Web,
    without that decentralized authorship,
  608. - anyone can write to it -
  609. there would be no Global Voices.
  610. Uh, the whole point of Global Voices was to
  611. recognize that people all over the world
  612. were taking advantage of the benefits of the Web,
  613. and create one place where you could find it,
  614. sort of like Archie was with the pre-Web TelNet days
  615. a archive of things happening all around -
  616. - that's what Global Voices did.
  617. Um. So. Yeah!
  618. And, y'know, we've tried a lot of different
  619. infrastructure based around the web over the years;
  620. uh, we've used Drupal,
  621. we've used a lot of different online services...
  622. Obviously, like everyone else,
  623. the temptation to take advantage of Google's
  624. free offerings has always been
    part of Global Voices' DNA:
  625. we use Google mailing lists,
  626. we use all the different things that they make for free
  627. which is an interesting part of the web,
  628. because it's not the Web, that's Google,
  629. just happening to give it away,
  630. but as a company, they have a tendency
  631. to follow the spirit of the Web, uh,
  632. even though they're doing so
    for commercial reasons.
  633. But - yeah!
  634. That's my very brief summary
  635. of the history of Global Voices
  636. and how it parallels the Web!
  637. Ellery: Thank you!
  638. Ellery: I'm afraid we're gonna have to wrap up now
  639. but, just, to do that, I wanted to ask for
  640. a couple of, kind of, final thoughts...
  641. ...from Alan, and perhaps also Josh, just -
  642. - Alan, I guess I'm especially interested in
  643. if there are, kinda, thoughts that you have
  644. on all of the activism and advocacy
  645. that's taking place around fundamental rights
    on the Internet,
  646. from your own unique historical perspective.
  647. And then I wanted to close, um,
  648. by asking Renata to just tell us a very little bit about Bassel
  649. since there's also an important anniversary this weekend.
  650. So, I'm gonna just let you guys go,
  651. and then we will close out!
  652. Alan Emtage: Okay, well, y'know,
  653. Alan: I haven't been involved as an activist
  654. for, uh, for quite some time now.
  655. I sort of burnt out after a while! [laughs]
  656. - flying around the globe, and doing all the stuff that I did in the nineties.
  657. But I certainly pay a lot of attention to that stuff
  658. y'know, I'm currently involved in Barbados, right now,
  659. and it has been really interesting to try and,
  660. for one example,
  661. try and access content from the United States
  662. - entertainment content, that kind of stuff.
  663. And, I mean, I knew about this stuff in theory,
  664. but in practice, the antiquated models
  665. of content distribution
    that we're still holding onto
  666. in this day and age,
  667. where, you know, geographical boundaries
    and national boundaries and that kinda stuff
  668. are still very much at the center of these
    business models.
  669. Y'know, things like BitTorrent
    and that kinda stuff
  670. are wiping them away,
    and they don't even realize it.
  671. The music industry has seen this happen,
    now, for decades -
  672. Certainly from the activist point of view,
  673. in terms of keeping the Internet
    free and available,
  674. it's gonna be a real challenge.
  675. And, I mean, it's such an
    important technology now.
  676. You have things like
    the Great Firewall in China...
  677. You have, you know, Russia, who recently -
  678. - as of yesterday, today -
  679. - shutting down, using new laws to shut down access to dissent against Putin...
  680. They realize the power -
  681. - Egypt was a real wakeup call for a lot of people in the use of social networking
  682. to organize and activate people and bring them out onto the streets,
  683. so governments are scared of this technology
  684. and it's important that we work really hard
  685. to keep it as free as it is,
  686. because they realize that, you know,
  687. information - how you control the information, you control the people.
  688. So, um, I think it is extraordinarily important
  689. that people like Josh [unintelligible]
  690. continue to work very hard
    to stop the bad laws,
  691. to inform the legislators -
  692. - some of them are just doing it out of ignorance!
  693. I mean, you know,
  694. "Never ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to incompetence."
  695. And, uh, a lot of these people are just
  696. incompetent, not malicious.
  697. But there are people who are malicious,
    as well [laughing a bit]
  698. so we have to deal with them as well.
  699. But, um, you know, it's vitally important
  700. because, uh, nowadays, these technologies
  701. really sit at the core of our culture
  702. and the way that we
    communicate with one another.
  703. [long silence]
  704. Josh [wondering if he should speak next]: ...Me?
  705. [Josh laughs silently]
  706. Josh: I'll just add one thing real quickly -
  707. - I think that we're at an interesting moment
  708. where so many of us acknowledge the importance of the Internet and the Web,
  709. and the impact that it's had on every aspect of our culture,
  710. and because of that,
  711. I think we as the users of the Web,
    and of the Internet, have a duty
  712. to hold governments around the world and companies around the world accountable
  713. and to urge them and pressure them
  714. to protect the openness that lies at the core of this entire thing.
  715. And to protect, not just openness, but
  716. also this notion of a Commons.
  717. That's - in our opinion - quickly being lost.
  718. This notion that the Internet, and the Web,
    are publicly owned,
  719. and that the activity that takes place on them
  720. is activity that we undertake
  721. and that is ours.
  722. And that is not the domain of the big companies' platforms.
  723. We undertake the activity.
  724. So, for example,
  725. Google has allowed us to do a lot of things.
  726. Google allows us to find a lot of information extremely quickly,
  727. to connect to each other extremely well,
  728. to use Google Hangouts as we're doing right now,
  729. but Google's doing all of this at the -
  730. - while mining the data that we give it,
    selling off that data -
  731. - that data is also creating this historical record

  732. of everything that we search for
    and say online,
  733. which as we know,
    can be exploited by governments,
  734. - but also by companies -
  735. and so I think it's time for us to think about that relationship
  736. between us and these big companies,
  737. which is becoming the central part of our online experience.
  738. And how can we decentralize that?
  739. How can we decouple ourselves from these giant companies
  740. and take back a portion of the Web
  741. so that we own this experience in a deeper way
  742. and it's not experienced as purely commercial,
  743. a commercial transaction between us an a big company.
  744. So that's a big question,
  745. and it's going to take years to unravel it, to find solutions,
  746. but we're hoping that we can start that conversation now.
  747. [long silence]
  748. Renata: Well, now I will go back to something that Jeremy said.
  749. It was about him being stopped in the border, the Canadian border
  750. because of "hacker."
  751. And what I want to talk about is that,
  752. at the end of the day, there's, ah -
  753. we reduce the number of people who can actually,
  754. in some countries, not control the internet,
  755. but understand the infrastructure, and use it in a way that they can increase public good.
  756. and they can help people in extreme situations.
  757. And one of these people is my friend
    Bassel Khartabil -
  758. [fondly] Bassel, Bassel is the internet.
  759. Basel is a Palestinian-Syrian activist,
  760. he's an activist of Greek culture,
  761. and he's a global citizen, you know?
  762. He's not super nationalistic, he, he,
  763. he has traveled a lot, extensively,
  764. he has friends all over the world,
  765. and he likes to spend time learning how things work, how things operate,
  766. so he's very good with computers -
  767. he learned himself how to code,
    thanks to his uncle -
  768. He knows a lot about hardware as well,
  769. and he knows a lot about
    Greek culture and design.
  770. And so during his travels he saw all these wonderful things happening
  771. and so he decided, with a group of friends,
  772. to create a hackerspace in Damascus
  773. I don't know how translation works,
  774. but apparently "hacker-space" was a very scary word for the Syrian intelligence services,
  775. and they saw it as a threat -
  776. like, people in power view technology as a threat to their plan to control people.
  777. So on the 15th of December, two years ago,
  778. the hackerspace was raided...
  779. All the computers were taken away,
  780. all the things were dismantled -
  781. - can you imagine one of these Syrian police looking at the 3D printer, oh my god,
  782. [derisively] probably thought they were like nuclear weapons, or something like that -
  783. and, sadly, he has been away, he has been in prison.
  784. He was in a very, very bad prison, subject to torture treatment.
  785. But then he was - thanks to the advocacy of thousands of people,
  786. he was re-transferred back to the civilian prison.
  787. Which, you can imagine, how, even if it's a civilian prison, how this prison looks like.
  788. I mean, it is... the conditions get bad to worse as time goes by,
  789. as the Syrian government runs out of resources.
  790. The last people they will feed, the last people they will take care of, are the prisoners.
  791. On top of that, Bassel, he has a health condition...
  792. It is all really sad.
  793. But, what we have been trying to do during these two years
  794. is to keep him peaceful.
  795. And to keep reminding him that we haven't forgotten
  796. and to keep reminding him that we embrace the values that he embraces.
  797. And we support the causes that he supports.
  798. So, instead of, you know, just being sad,
    and doing nothing,
  799. we are a doing a Free Bassel Day.
  800. On the 15th of March.
  801. Well, some things are already starting today!
  802. And what we want is, ah, joint action -
  803. - doing things, doing anything you can do to remember Bassel.
  804. And not only Bassel. To remember Syria.
  805. Because it seems that because of the news,
  806. we just, we don't hear about Syria anymore!
  807. I mean, it's like, it is on, you know, in the parking lot,
  808. and if we have some time, we go, "oh, okay, something is going badly there."
  809. But, uh, we seem to have forgotten about all the suffering.
  810. And together with Bassel there are
  811. lots of system administrators, computer experts, and hackers who are in prison,
  812. and sometimes we only care about journalists!
  813. But, you know, there's lots of people, valuable people for the future of Syria,
  814. who are in prison now,
    who need our solidarity.
  815. I would also like to... if you live in a country which has received Syrian refugees,
  816. please show your solidarity.
  817. I know that sharing your computer might not sound appealing,
  818. but maybe crowdfunding and giving a computer with internet access to this refugee camp
  819. so they can stay in touch with their relatives abroad...?
  820. Maybe doing a short talk or short gathering near them...?
  821. I think that those are good ways to help Bassel.
  822. Because that's what Bassel probably would be doing if he was free.
  823. So my appeal is that - to not forget Syria, to not forget Bassel.
  824. The free internet is a free internet with free Bassel and free Syria!
  825. And that's - [laughingly] - the Web I want, actually!
  826. Ellery: That is the Web she wants!
  827. Ellery: The Web many of us want.
  828. So, there's a lot of work to do,
  829. and there are lots of ways to get involved,
    as we've heard about.
  830. Thank you, everybody, so much
  831. for coming on today,
  832. and, umm, we hope to see everybody here and out there, next week on GV Face!
  833. Thanks so much!