Tattoos, weird clothes, tee shirts with funny pictures on them, pink hair, long hair, scruffy hair, sticker-saturated computers — and brilliance, geek humor, and deep respect for one another over generation, gender, gender identification, religion and race: that was what I saw last week at the Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit* — called partly to discuss the technology and ethical questions behind an increasingly centralized Web.
I kept thinking all weekend about this diverse crew of genius conference attendees as the horror of the Orlando shootings unfolded. With it will come the inevitable racial and religious generalizations and this international crew of brainiacs included probably 20% who, because of name or skin color or accent face a higher likelihood of reflexive suspicion, potential online monitoring, extra security checks at airports, and frightened glances in elevators, Starbuck’s and movie lines.
Over the next weeks and months, we must decide how our country should respond to what is clearly an increasing threat, especially since mainstream security experts have implied a need for more surveillance, not only in person and through interviews but also online.
I have no answers and am barely fluent in the technologies powering these surveillance tools so there’s very little I can add either to this question or the sad jeopardy into which it may place so many of my new conference friends. For me though, it’s another – and very important – ripple in the pool of our outrage.
*New Connections We are bringing together a diverse group of Web architects, activists, engineers, archivists, scholars, journalists, and other stakeholders to explore the technology required to build a Decentralized Web and its impact. Call to action The current Web is not private or censorship-free. It lacks a memory, a way to preserve our culture’s digital record through time. The Decentralized Web aims to make the Web open, secure and free of censorship by distributing data, processing, and hosting across millions of computers around the world, with no centralized control.