I love that the working title of Martha Lane Fox’s proposed new public institution is Dot Everyone.
Yes, the “everyone” bit is like motherhood and apple pie. It’s important, but it’s not a strategy.
But dots (and we all know that @ signs are so last decade, don’t we?), dots are cool.
- Dots are so cool that Giles wrote a GDS blog post about the importance of saying them
- Dots demand such respect that the late Douglas Adams had to call out John Humphrys for hamming them up
- Dots matter so much to me that I once raised a Github pull request to put one extra pixel on the Internet.
Dots are a strategy.
Because when people talk about “small pieces loosely joined” they are really talking about dots. Dots between the levels in a domain name make the Internet what it is, a network of networks. “blog dot mattedgar dot com” – speak them softly, but never gloss over them. With dots, we have an infinitely scalable, massively distributed, highly resilient system. Without dots, it would be one big centralised brittle of data.
Lots of things in life besides hypertext pages can be enhanced with this spirit of savage resilience.
So after reading the text of the Dimbleby lecture, I had no hesitation in signing the petition to establish a new public body. In Martha’s words the new institution would “prioritise three areas that best demonstrate the opportunities we should be grabbing with both hands: education, women and ethics.”
These things are all important to me because the people of the world hold the web in common. Yet many in this country and beyond are still not getting their share. Instead we risk enclosure by a monocultural “tech” establishment incapable of imagining the best the web could be.
The Internet should set people free to realise their full potential through learning, work and play. Increasingly that will mean doing all three of those things at the same time.
In David Ogilvy’s words, “diversity turns out to be the mother of invention (not necessity, as the mechanists thought).” Only human diversity can confer legitimacy. Only human inventiveness can create capacity. We’ll need both to do battle with the powerful interests that will otherwise bend our future out of shape.
Everything about this new institution should be considered in the open:
- the location (not London-by-Default, please)
- the way it co-creates with users (proven people-centred service design tools are available)
- the way it delivers (less Gantt, more Git).
Let’s make it an institution that is not just on the web or about the web, but truly of the web. That’s why I ♥︎ Dots.
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