Net Neutrality was a topic that I focused a lot on when the discussion first exploded a few years ago. I was shocked at the time to read about the concept of how ISPs could potentially limit access to a competitor, as it seems such a violation to what we understand the Internet to be. What is really interesting in Tim Berners-Lee's article Long Live the Web is to read about the separation of the Internet and the Web, and the comparison of using electrical appliances continuing its innovation with the same electricity standards. I do agree that the Web, for all its advances, feels like it hasn't changed all that much structurally since I started surfing back in the late 90s. The speed might be faster, the websites more sophisticated, but the web does feel more restricted than before. And this is even before PRISM. I don't want to focus on government surveillance in this blog, but I do want to discuss a little about how much influence major tech companies are using our information and dictating this virtual world that is becoming more restrictive even without governmental censorship, as government regulation is the only way to protect private companies from hijacking this free society.
What concerns me the most how a few major firms (eg; Google, Facebook) have so much of our information, that our lives are being sold as data to private companies. The other concern is how competition between them leads to a limitation of functions for users, making it harder for users to access information (eg: Instagram blocking twitter from directly embedding the photo into a tweet due to competition between Facebook and Twitter). While this might be insignificant, this trend will surely continue, so what is to stop the tech giants from giving away more of our information for a profit while limiting our rights to access services that should not be restricted in the first place?
I do believe that a free and open Internet is our best tool for further developing ideas in all fields, fight against censorship imposed by certain countries, and for users who might be living under more authoritarian regimes to access information they might not be able to access otherwise. However, if companies are willing to succumb to requests by such governments in hopes to gain more profit, and even free governments are spying on our activity, what can users do to protect ourselves?
I might be savvy enough to know that TOR exists and I can become more 'anonymous', most internet users are not able to figure out how to do that. In fact, I think most average users won't know that the Internet is separate from the web. So, should activists who believe in open Internet and Berners-Lee's belief of what the Internet should be, work towards making it easier for average users to understand what is at risk and build easier tools for them to use? As I don't believe that corporations will put the interests of the users first (unless it threatens their profit margins, of course) so I think that it is important for the average user to become a fighter for net neutrality, or the Web will end up being a place where a few major players control everything we hope to do.
Here's the second half of the homework. I built a very simple, very 90s hypertext webpage that links to some characters I like that Joss Whedon developed. I mostly linked to other stories as to why his work is important, and in many ways, why it is sad that strong female characters are still such a rarity in films and television. I didn't really use CSS (I'll figure that out one day) but I did use HTML to build some basic links, font sizes and modes, post images, and some alignment.
Here it is: