Good, thoughtful articles. As the intention is to use the ‘power of the crowd’, I offer my contribution to the discussion!
One of the statements that immediately struck me was that “We need to frame the debate about the future of the internet, before its fate is decided for us by politicians and business people, who do not share our vision.”
That statement struck me a bit (unintentionally) restrictive. For if we are talking about a global Internet, then everyones voices need to be included - politicians and business people, liberals, conservatives, traditionalists, futurists, socialists, libertarians and many more. If we narrow the contribution to those with similar philosophies as John Perry Barlow, then the Internet we present to the world will not serve the interests of the world, but only a group of people that subscribe to that particular philosophy. As it happens, I find Barlow’s declaration, allowing for some poetic exaggeration, pretty extreme, but, of course, he gets a shout just like everyone else.
So I think the answer, then, to what the Internet should look like should be based looking at how it has served the world’s varied interests for the last 20 years.
I think your questions are spot on.
As for solutions, I’m quite taken with Jaron Lanier’s answer of ‘how to fix it’. Which he presents in his book ‘Who Owns the Future?’ I’ll attempt to summarise it here.
Lanier expands the notion of individual ownership to include all the data that a person creates: health data, creative output, translations…everything. His hypothesis is that while computers can get very good at doing all sorts of things, they will always require data from us to work. Thats how Google’s, Microsoft’s and IBM’s ‘AI’ work, using machine learning on big (user) data.
What I find very attractive about this model is that it fundamentally respects individual privacy and data. A user can choose if they want to sell their data and for how much. People are rewarded for their useful contributions, rather then in the current ‘free services’ model, where they only gain ‘informal’ benefits for their data. I suspect it also means that people are more willing to pay for services, as they are also being formally paid.
Jaron’s model has many issues, of course, but I think, overall, its the correct way forward. You sumarised the sticky ones nicely:
“Should we not have more of a say in how our data is used? Should we not have greater ownership of our data? Or should we accept that intellectual property, copyright and ownership are out-dated concepts?”
The fundamental question is about ownership. (I don’t think its a coincidence that some Internet companies play fast and loose with both user data and copyrighted material, because at the end of the day, its all about whether ownership is respected or not.)