Saturday, May 13, 2006

A rapidly wobbling web

OK. No headline link today and a bit of a moan to boot.

Around a decade ago I started publishing to the web. I registered a domain name and housed it with a server that promised permanent atomatic renewal. I began by creating a portal for my archives with the intention that autobiographical and other material would remain available in data form long after I'm dead and gone. After all, such an information matrix was the very idea of the internet itself. Over the years, my host server was bought up by one company after another until it became a tiny subsidiary of some mega-corps. Last year, the origoinal contract notwithstanding, a new rule book was posted without advising customers and I suddenly found the site was gone. I waited until the renewal date came up with Nominet and onlt then found I couldn't even transfer the name elsewhere because the original provider still had it "tagged".

Now I'm not in the business of being a commercial site and of course spend most of my online presense on and around this blog. Putting links to other servers here was all I really needed and there was no actual urgency in re-establishing a domain name. For some time I have been using a broadband content server to feed the real content into my domain anyway. That provider has been remarkably good. It was very rare to find any downtime and there has never been a problem uploading new content two or three times a day. Then - a weeik or so ago - it disappeared! Totally! Comments at our users group ranged from speculation about a "Bush invasion" to a simple server "crash" that required someone to go in and reboot it. We waited. Then as of two days ago, every attempt to contact the server resulted in an advert saying it was for sale. Now, the user group itself (housed elsewhere) has vanished too. All this without notification from anyone.

It seems to me that the commercialisation of almost everything on the web (and even the greater internet) has become so pervasive that the original intention of the medium is becoming lost. The system that we wanted to accumilate global knowledge and dispense it to future generations has been hi-jacked by capitalist terrorists who want to possess it merely to service the greed of the here and now. Nor is the commercial abuse in itself enough - communications giants want to more and more layers into the structure so they can turn it into a corporate battlefield where you only get the content the individual provider dictates. As countries like China slowly get a greater degree of freedom, here in market-hub we call the "west", freedom is being ever more eroded. There is no altruism left as even the pioneers and innovators are enslaved by a planetary machine whose sole purpose seems to be the promotion of fiscal and material greed. It may be "hi-tech", but we are increasing reverting to a "medieval" culture. The difference between now and history is that the power-brokers are no longer playing on their national stages - the new platform is the world itself.

This column has continually been concerned about the imperial dreams of self-centred leaders and corrupt economics. Increasingly there are no sides to be taken in current local, national or international governance. It is time we considered an entire new civil and social infrastructure there services the needs of the world's citizens rather than an elite or have either "bought" power or fooled innocent electorates with false promises or the propaganda of mind-diversion.

So, back to the web and protecting the idealogy on which it was built. Check out the campaign to save it now.

Normal service will be resumed ...


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