This week, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Internet Archive head Brewster Kahle and others came together in San Francisco for the Decentralized Web Summit. Participants sought to brainstorm and operationalize strategies for a new Web, in which privacy, security and preservation are the default, and “websites are easily accessible to all as long as at least one person somewhere in the world is hosting a copy.” The event, and Sir Tim’s involvement in particular, were profiled in The New York Times.
One of the Summit’s key discussion points involved online revenue generation and payments:
“At the session on Tuesday, computer scientists talked about how new payment technologies could increase individual control over money. For example, if people adapted the so-called ledger system by which digital currencies are used, a musician might potentially be able to sell records without intermediaries like Apple’s iTunes. News sites might be able to have a system of micropayments for reading a single article, instead of counting on web ads for money.
‘Ad revenue is the only model for too many people on the web now,’ Mr. Berners-Lee said. ‘People assume today’s consumer has to make a deal with a marketing machine to get stuff for ‘free,’ even if they’re horrified by what happens with their data. Imagine a world where paying for things was easy on both sides.’”
While seeking to achieve the long-term goals of the Summit, Sir Tim argued that in many ways we already have a Decentralized Web, and that issues often arise as a result of the platforms and technologies built on top of it:
“‘The web is already decentralized,’ Mr. Berners-Lee said. ‘The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a social problem.’”