On Wednesday, in the former San Francisco church that now serves as the headquarters of the Internet Archive, pioneers of the Internet and the World Wide Web joined together to call for a new kind of Web—a decentralized Web. It was a call for change, a call for action, and a call to develop technology that would “lock the Web open.”
And in the audience were the developers and entrepreneurs and thinkers who are going to try to answer that call. These men and women (because the next Web will have mothers as well as fathers), many sporting dreadlocks or tattoos, grew up with the Internet and love the Web, but believe it can be better and are determined to make it so.
This meeting, the Decentralized Web Summit, was part of a 3-day event organized by Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, and sponsored by the Internet Archive, the Ford Foundation, Google, Mozilla, and others. It was as much a revival meeting as a tech conference, a feeling enhanced by the rows of pews that made up the seating. There was a lot of fan-boying and fan-girling going on, as the tech leaders of tomorrow buzzed about how they might get this or that luminary to sign their laptops. (Had there been printed programs—there were not—I’m guessing the rush for autographs would have been intense.)
Today’s Web has a number of problems, the attendees agreed; the most obvious being the kind of surveillance uncovered by Edward Snowden’s revelations and the ability to block access, like China’s Great Firewall.