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How can we build a better web?
As Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web turns 30, we reflect on online responsibility and making the web a better place to be.
When we design a digital product, or carry out a service, do we always put honesty and best practice above everything?
Are we, as agencies who make our living from the World Wide Web, doing our part in making it a better place?
To mark the milestone of the World Wide Web’s 30th Birthday, its founder posted an open letter. Describing the occasion, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said; “It’s a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go.”
Sir Tim explains why it's understandable why many people ‘feel afraid and unsure’ about whether the web is truly a force for good.
So, he has now called upon all digital users – and companies - to ‘create a better web’, one that serves all of humanity. This got us here at Everest thinking about what that means for agencies like us. What role do we, a software development agency in Cornwall, play in creating a better web? More importantly, what role should we play?
What did Sir Tim say about the World Wide Web 30 years on?
Sir Tim believes there are three sources of ‘dysfunction’ affecting today’s web that must be tackled.
- ‘Deliberate, malicious intent’ – such as criminal behaviour, state-sponsored attacks and hacking, and online harassment
- ‘System design that creates perverse incentives’ – like the viral spread of misinformation, or ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait. Basically, the sacrifice of user value.
- ‘Unintended negative consequences of benevolent design’ – the outraged and polarising tone and quality of online discourse.
The web has changed so much in the past three decades. That’s why Sir Tim believes it would be “defeatist” and unimaginative” to assume the web as we know it cannot be changed for the better in the next 30 years - and Team Everest agree.
“If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us,” wrote Sir Tim. “We will have failed the web.”
He later added: “The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”
For him, this is all about our ‘journey from digital adolescence’ to a ‘more mature, responsible and inclusive’ future.
How can we build a better web?
Sir Tim is calling for everyone to “come together as a global web community”. For our MD, Sam, Sir Tim’s words truly resonated with the values Everest Media is built on.
“Companies have been called on to do more to ensure their pursuit of short-term profit does not come at a lasting price for others,” said Sam. “This is the way it should be anyway.
“We fully concur with Sir Tim that platforms must be designed with privacy, diversity and security in mind. You wouldn’t sell anyone a car today without an alarm and tell them that security was their responsibility, would you? Yet somehow it’s still acceptable to build ‘cheap and fast’ websites that do not address those basic requirements.”
The importance of making sure the web is available for everyone is also something we’re passionate about. This is why we love creating platforms for clients that are accessible and scalable for their customers.
We’ve got a proud history of this. Find out how we boosted accessibility for a leading housing provider.
“The bottom line? We have a responsibility to make the web a better place. Everyone has, but especially companies,” says Sam.
“It’s really exciting and inspiring to see the work being done regarding the Contract for the Web. Make no mistake, this is a crucial stage.
He added: “What can we do? We must take the initiative and pro-actively educate clients about why these things are so important and what value they add to the projects we do for them. This will allow us to carry on producing high-end, ethical solutions that we and our clients can be proud of.”
“We don’t believe in the short-term, and we’ve proved this by always putting growth strategy first. We help people out when they need it, but we never look for a cheap way out – if we’re taking a project on, we need to know we will be able to do it well.
“Opportunity, creativity and equality – that’s exactly what Sir Tim, and Everest Media, want to see the World Wide Web enjoy in the next 30 years, if not much sooner.
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