Dylan Smith

Weeknotes 2019-W11

“You shouldn’t just enquire. You should write, too.”

Those were the words of Sir Tim Berners-Lee as he addressed the audience at the Science Museum on Tuesday. I was there with Robin, my fiancée’s father, for the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web.

I forgot I had tickets until I got a reminder email the previous afternoon. With a 5pm start time, I figured I wouldn’t be able to attend but my manager kindly encouraged me to leave work early. I’m thankful he did. The lineup of speakers each detailed how they’ve had their lives transformed by the web, as I have. It felt emotional at times. Since the late 90s, the web has provided me an escape from the circumstances I was born into but never satisfied with. For that I’ll always be grateful.

When asked if he had any regrets about the implementation of web technology, Tim pointed to the commercialisation of domain name registration. He was disappointed that corporate interests had ruined things for the rest of us. That message stuck with me and, unfortunately, reared its head again later in the week when I learned that a company in the email industry was attempting to buy the Email Geeks Slack community out from underneath of its admins (including me) and users.

More than the greater web industry, so much of the email industry smells of corporate bullshit. Practitioners need a decentralised, democratic hub free of corporate influence. A true community. For over two years, I’ve been helping build that and I won’t let VC money ruin it.

“The idea of a permissionless space is important to the web and we need to fight to keep it that way.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
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