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What Open Web means to us?
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by Dwaraka Nath

Open Web

This time I was confused as to where I would start from? The point is, there is so much you could talk about the Open Web and standards, On and on and on...

I needed a point to take off from. People always tend to have different opinions about a thing. If you are planning to tell them something, it is very important to understand, what they have in mind, before you address them. So, in our case, I decided to do a quick survey about Open Web. Beside myself, as I was thinking about all this, were my parents. And I took the obvious step. “Hey Ma ! What do you think Open Web means?” I asked. She gave me a bizarre look. She kept looking at the floor, ceiling and chairs for while before answering me - “Well, is the Internet what we have today not very open? You have so much of information to read about, you can share anything, anywhere to anyone. There are lots of free stuff, free tutorials and documentation to learn from. Web is open by itself.” And how astonishing ! Many of whom I spoke to, thereafter, gave me more or less the same kind of reply.

Tell you what ? Internet today, is not very open as people conceive it to be, when it comes to standards. You may realize, just as I did, that people always look at the outer picture of Web and not the bigger one. Remember, we're not talking about Web as it seems to be, rather about the Web as how it works. Guys ! Put your thinking caps on. We're about to go in for quite a ride now.

Back in 1990s when the World Wide Web (abbreviated as WWW) was opened for the public, outside CERN (An European Research Organization – Father of Modern Internet), much of all the standards regarding content publishing in internet, web standards were open for anyone to look into, manipulate, improve and contribute. A striking example of this is the ability to view a website's code or in a nerd's language, the implementation of 'View Source' command within the browser.

“Oh! Crap. This is bad. How would I let an X or Y copy my site?” many of you would ask. It is not actually bad. At least not as bad unless your business is hit by that. ' Sharing something that you already know about, would enable quicker and better improvisation ' - something I reckon is universally accepted. That is exactly the crux of Open Web.

Be it anything, when you have a framework, that is both innovative and attractive, more people tend to join you in your mission and make the best out of it. With more people, comes in more creativity, more ideas and a better solution.

This is the reason why Internet saw an exponential growth during the decade. So, during the early stages of the Web, many of them tried to improvise the standards set by others, which at the end came out to be really nice.

Over the years, more web technologies came into being. People had started to use Video streaming services (in simple terms, viewing videos online), interactive gaming, online banking and facilities similar to that. Each of the new trends that had come, had to rely on some technology or other that made its realization possible. Take for example, the very same Video streaming. Many of the videos that we see online today are nothing but flash content ( flash is a type of file format. Just like mp3 or doc). Viewing it requires Adobe Flash Player. But, until very recently the technology/implementation of the Flash Player was kept hidden from the general public. The same goes with Microsoft too. They have brought an alternative to Flash – Silverlight. Again a proprietary standard. Oh Boy ! What's the point?

Had these technologies been available for the developers worldwide for free, they would've seen a potential growth. Implementing them across various platforms and devices would not have been a problem at all, as it is today. The problem with these Silicon Valley people is that, they do not try to come in terms with each other. Rather, get into fight and try to make their own alternatives. In worst cases, neither do they provide an alter, nor do they try to bring out that technology to their products. Each promote theirs as the de-facto standard.

The one suffering at the end, is none but you and me. Wicked !

Also, when someone has a centralized control over technology, he tries to dictate and creates monopoly. Policies like these, restrict the people's preferences, stops them from realizing what they imagined to web to be and deprives them.

And that is not the idea of Open Web that we're talking about all along. Web has become a public resource today. Internet has evolved to be a key component – be it education, business or entertainment. Name it whatever, you got Internet there! Essentially, it must be open to all. Everyone has the right to participate and contribute to it. It must have the ability to shape individual experiences. It must enrich their lives. But the prognosis doesn't seem so good.

We have free but proprietary web applications at the moment. And I am afraid, that is definitely not going to be that way, with the current scenario, unless we get down to some serious work.