Today I wanted to discuss the matter of site governance – who makes the decisions about what happens with a Web site.
I would, first, like to prove the relevancy of this topic by laying the framework for such an argument. It goes without saying that technology is a tool; like most tools it is neither inherently bad nor inherently good, it’s what is done with the tool that creates the result.
In online communication (social networking), our tool is actually in two or more different forms. On one side are the tools of access, these being the phones, computers, or other electronics devices which allow us access the Internet. On the other side is the tools of service, this being the Web site which is performing the duty you are requesting of it. Notice how, in this model, the creator (the user of the tool) does not have direct access to the tool that he or she is using – they are using a tool of access to get to it. Thus there is no real ownership of the tool of service, only the tool of access.
There is an interesting paradox that then arises in this: the tool of service holds all of the important data we wish to manipulate; however we only really own the tool of access. Thus we enter into a realm where our information and our tools are to be dictated by whomever owns the Web site – which is not necessarily us. It is then we arrive at the question of who really should have control over the decisions made in regard the to Web site.
At the current date, using models of government, this is an authoritative dictatorship. While the dictators may sway in their opinions via uprisings of their community, this is still a fundamentally flawed model because the community is not actually making the decisions regarding how their information is handled and how their tool is developed.
Yet, any change in this model poses a fundamental problem to the Web site whose sole purpose is to turn a profit, often at your expense. Here we face a necessary change in foundational philosophy. Some Web sites have been able to speak words along these lines but no site (to my knowledge) has truly implemented these ideas: the focus of any Web site should be the service of its users; it is upon satisfaction of the users’ needs that money can then be made.
What this then means is that the users of the site must be the dictators of their own information and their own tools – a sort of communism, if you will. The very thought probably makes most people in the business of doing business shutter, for this would mean that they would not be the sole decisions makers of what happens to their business. Yet, I can’t help but fantasize about what it would be like to actually have a say in my own tools of service, not just my tools of access. I acknowledge the seeming impossibility of such an idea, but that does not mean it is impossible.
I want to address the fact that this does not mean that the Web site cannot innovate and expand itself, in a traditional sense. The Web site can still push new updates and new features. What I am trying to suggest is that these changes affect tools that people use and rely on everyday. Thus, these people should have control over their very own tools – everyone should be actively involved in the process.
There are many details to be worked out by ways of business, but my mind can’t help but wonder into ideas of how amazing something such as this would be. Imagine people campaigning for features, updates, or changes. Now imagine that those people would actually be able to realize their goal, assuming the community at large deemed it a just endeavor.