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As we work to draw in a broader swath of engaged Drumbeat community members, we're looking for new and "user friendly" ways to convey the value of the open web to our "non-traditional" Drumbeat audiences.

An overall goal of this outreach is to learn how to connect the open web to things people think are exciting here and now.

One idea that seems promising is to brainstorm "Wonders of the Open Web", a la the "7 Wonders of the Ancient World".

As discussed on the Open Web Definitions page, when we talk about Wonders of the Open Web, we are identifying things that are participatory, transparent, decentralized and generative:

  • Fueled by participation, in ideas, energy or media.
  • Built on transparent technologies that anyone can study, use or improve.
  • Decentralized in both architecture and control.
  • Generative -- new content and applications can be created using existing ones

We came up with a starter list that includes:

  • Wikipedia: The amazing open knowledge repository, based on the free and open source Mediawiki software, which didn't find success until adopting a radically open community process.
  • The Internet Archive: A digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form, providing free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public. One of the largest and most valuable aggregations of open-licensed content, including lots of great music.
  • Wordpress: A state-of-the-art free and open source publishing platform based on open web standards and usability which allows anyone to publish a dynamic web site.
  • Project Gutenberg: The first producer of free electronic books (ebooks), and a place where you can download over 30000 free ebooks to read on your device of choice.
  • Creative Commons: An licensing model and infrastructure for distribution of open knowledge.
  • OpenStreetMap: A free editable map of the whole world. OpenStreetMap allows you to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth.

Thanks in advance for contributing to this list!

In addition, we identified these more technical Wonders of the Open Web:

  • GNU / Linux OS,
  • Apache - A webserver,
  • MySQL - A database,
  • PHP - A server side scripting language,
  • Drupal - A web development framework / product,
  • Firefox - A desktop development framework / browser,..
  • StatusNet - A distributed status update framework / product
  • jQuery and tons of other libraries and frameworks exist that try to make it easier for non-professionals to create web-based content.
  • GitHub

Additional Comments

  • Dharmishta: Multiuser typing on ether pad, PubMed, Diaspora getting so much funding  ;) Maybe something sunlight foundation-y like little sis? Something about mapping that isn't google maps... Bike maps? Crisis maps? OpenStreetMaps in Haiti? Propublica/citizen journalism type stuff... Ushahidi? Crowdsourcing... Kiva? CurrentTV? GitHub? Apache/MYSql/Linux? Some sort of open educational resource... Open course ware? EFF, FSF...
  • Atul: What, if anything, doesn't make sites like Facebook and Twitter a Wonder of the Open Web? It seems like there's a blurry line between what is or isn't a WotOW based on the criteria of decentralized/participatory/transparent/hackable.
  • Gerv: Or free-as-in-freedom! Facebook is anything but open.
  • Atul: Wordpress is a stand-out in part because it's both an open-source framework that anyone can use anywhere and a hosted one: if the latter were what made it a WotOW, then why not make Blogger, TypePad, DreamHost, and similar hosted services WotOW? If the former were what made it a WotW, then this would seem to open the door for Drupal/jQuery/etc. to become WotW too, though this could lead to making the list look way too techie and developer-focused.
  • Gerv: What would be good is not just "stuff which is open", because even if the structure of the web was closed, that sort of content could still exist. What is there whose existence is enabled by the openness of web technology? Universal Subtitles is something that will be a WotOW by this criteria when it actually happens. Is there anything which currently exists?
  • Gerv: But in a sense, you are right. If we just list things built on top of the open web, then why don't closed things make the list? And if we list open things built on top of a web that happens to be open but doesn't need to be, then it's not about the open _web_. We need a list of wonders which wouldn't exist if the web were not open.