Germany and the soul of the web

Jeff Jarvis author of “What Would Google Do” and co-presenter of the This Week in Google podcast, has a great blog post today on his Buzz Machine blog, on the German perspective on privacy.

Without doubt,within Europe, Germany seems to have the greatest concerns with regards to privacy and so far much of the debate has focused on “what you potentially lose” by making information about you or your street public. Jeff counters this with the opposite opposite argument “what you gain” from making knowledge public.

This will remain one of most important web memes of the next few years as it goes to the heart of what has made the web so influential to our lives so far, but also how that may change in the future.

This is nothing less than a battle for the soul of the web.

The open web based on the concept of open access to information, ideas and knowledge is not guaranteed by any means, and we may need to do more than just watch the traditional holders of power in society start to shut down the elements of the internet they feel threatened by.

The appalling Digital Economy Bill passed in the UK is just the one element of this, the move to accesses information through applications and portals only threatens a return to the world of walled gardens we thought we had moved beyond with the closure of AOL and CompuServe, is another.

The danger of regressing to a world where access to  information is again controlled by a powerful few is increasingly real !

Written and submitted from Newark Airport  (40.712N, 74.164W)

4 replies on “Germany and the soul of the web”

There’s a difference between open access to information and the use of personal information as currency – i.e. what appears to be a free service can actually be something that is paid for with your personal information.

Of course, that sort of model is not restricted to the internet. Whenever you use your credit card to buy something it allows the shop and the card company to build a picture of your shopping habits.

I think much of these issues are cultural. Here in the UK, we’re used to a press that has a habit of not being quite as respectful of privacy as our European neighbours. Perhaps this is a good thing: we *expect* to know, and now even more so due to our ‘celeb’ culture.

Coupled with this, as there are more delivery channels to shared and open information, you would imagine that anything that encroaches on this would be met by increasingly harsher rebuttals. We’ve seen how powerful Twitter & Facebook are in this respect (re Rage Against the Machine); others are cropping up as we know (Buzz). As information was closed down, these channels react. I strongly think that, should parts of the Internet be shut down, these would fire up.

Add a comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.