What is the world of the open web like, beyond the walls of dominant social media platforms? How do our experiences of the internet differ depending on where we spend our time and share our ideas? Come with us on a journey to explore the landscape of the web and get to know the people and possibilities of open source, the open web, and open opportunities.
“The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we’re going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means.”—Anil Dash, The Web We Lost
Help us translate this video!
In the spirit of open source, we would like to invite others to create versions of this meditation in their own languages so that we can share the ideas behind it globally. Assets and instructions for doing so are available at https://github.com/Automattic/openwebmeditation.
Take a deep breath. Pause and notice the sensations of your body. Relax your arms. Feel your breath moving in and out.
Now imagine you are standing in a field. The grass is green, there’s a light breeze, the air is warm. With each breath in, imagine you are getting lighter and lighter. With a little help from the breeze, you begin to float upwards. As you rise higher and fly around, you see something down below through the clouds.
As you get closer the air gets smoggier and you realize it’s a vast metropolis. It’s surrounded by high concrete walls, completely contained. Inside it’s bustling. Lots of honking traffic, people everywhere, the sound is deafening. You see people arguing in bars and chatting on street corners. Billboards and adverts are everywhere, touting every kind of good and service. It’s noisy and dense and overwhelming.
This is Facebook.
You float back up, flying out of the city smog and into clear air. As you fly, you encounter a sprawling suburbia. It has walls and hedges too, but they’re shinier and newer. The residents are still bustling and chatting, but there’s less noise. The streets and houses are picture perfect, the people pay a lot of attention to how they dress. But all the houses are boxy and identical, and they’re all on identical streets in a perfect grid. When you look closer at some of the houses, you realize they’re actually just billboards made to look like someone lives there.
This is Instagram.
You fly back up and want to see what else is out there in the world. As the suburbs fade into the distance the rest of the world comes into focus on the horizon. You see farmsteads in remote corners of the countryside. You see riverside factories. You see backpackers on mountainsides. You see small settlements and emerging new cities. You see apartment buildings and straw huts, sprawling homesteads and local churches.
This diverse group of people value their freedom, but they dream of some of the comforts of city and suburban life—utilities and services, same-day mail delivery, cable TV, corner stores with all the amenities. They want ways to make their houses bigger and stronger, tools to make their business more valuable for customers, and roads to connect them to other people.
Eventually, you fly past the last settlement and find yourself back in an open field. And as your breathing slows, you get heavier and heavier, until eventually you settle back down to earth.