It may seem odd to celebrate a day known as One Web Day. which is this Tuesday, September 22. Isn’t this a bit like National Mustard Day (August 3) or National Bubble Gum Week (in March)?
Not at all! We have very few devoted to our shared, commons interests — and the World Wide Web surely must rank as one of our most important shared interests. In fact, the Web must be considered one of the most amazing, historic, disruptive, democratic and surprising creations in human history.
But if the many marvels and benefits that flow from the World Wide Web are going to endure in the future, we need to be able to name this social, technological and legal invention for what it is — a part of our common wealth. We must cultivate its remarkable capacities, defend it from attack and preserve the social practices and virtues that enable it to flourish.
Some organizers of One Web Day who are associated with the Center for Democracy and Technology have written a manifesto, “A Call to Defense and Celebration of the Online Commonwealth — Common Values and Shared Duties on the Internet.” Go sign it!
They note: “We speak different languages, have different values, together we have built a place –- myriad places– where we meet and communicate with one another. Yet, we don’t often take time to marvel at the global online society that we are building, nor do we do frequently enough reflect on our place, as individuals, in this new social order. It is time to do so.”
From the perspective of the commons, that gets it about right. This celebration asks us to take responsibility for something that belongs to us collectively — the “Online Commonwealth.” It asks us to protect this common wealth in the name of our society, future generations and the people of the entire world.
Go to the One Web Day site and find out how to get involved. And read the entire manifesto — it’s a thoughtful statement of the challenges we face in protecting the Web commons. I like one line in particular — that “the people of the Internet are, collectively, the killer app.” So true, but so hard to recognize and make real.
The challenge that we face in hanging on to the Web and to an open Interest is to develop an awareness of our shared interest in protecting this rare commons from enclosure, and maintaining it as an Online Commonwealth. So let’s take a moment to celebrate our very special digital republic.