Today is OneWebDay, the annual exercise in promoting the World Wide Web and touting its many benefits. Each year the event has a theme, and this year’s is something to do with the American election, which is a fine, if somewhat parochial issue for a global event.
OWD is the brainchild of law professor Susan Crawford, one of the more passionate advocates of a stupid Internet (their expression) in which ISPs and Internet wholesalers have to treat all packets the same way. While Crawford is sincere, I think the exercise is misguided.
There is more to the Internet than the Web: the Internet is a general-purpose network that needs to carry real-time communications such as VoIP and Video Chat alongside Web traffic, P2P,and other kinds of large file transfer systems.
The call for a monolithic traffic handling and regulatory system comes from the misperception that all forms of traffic look and act like web traffic. This is clearly not the case, as we’ve argued until we’re blue in the face on this blog and in print.
One Web Day privileges web use over these other equally important uses of the Internet, and reinforces the myth that a dumb Internet is essential to the economy, politics, freedom, and the like. In fact, a functional network forms the basis of all human uses, for good and for ill.
Next year I’d like to see a “One Internet Day” that touts the projects that aim to improve the Internet. I’d make a sign and go to a rally for that. But “One Web Day” doesn’t do it for me.