The original and one true inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, has spoken this week quite specifically on how the web might advance – and how it’s currently in a bit of a trap with sites like Google and Facebook. Speaking with The Guardian, Berners-Lee spoke of “internet silos” like Facebook and Google collecting data and not immediately allowing users to give it back – this unlike home-based applications which essentially all have such an ability in one form or another. The data held online today, he suggested, could already be ushering in a new era of personalized services for you, I, and everyone around us.
This new era of personalized computer services has “tremendous potential to help humanity” noted Berners-Lee, the public not yet understanding the value of the data held by the companies that do not allow such data to be shared. Without a doubt we’ve seen an outcry by the public, or at least by the more vocal citizens of Earth with an eye for privacy and a taste for social media, to get that data back. According to Berners-Lee, however, it’s not been enough.
“One of the issues of social networkingsilos is that they have the data and I don’t … There are no programmes that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me.” – Berners-Lee
Google for their part at the moment allows for data download, Facebook too allows for an archive of user data – Berners-Lee though warns of their relative inability to provide this data in a way that’s immediately useful to users.
As Berners-Lee continues:
“Whatever social site, wherever you put your data, you should make sure that you can get it back and get it back in a standard form. And in fact if I were you I would do that regularly, just like you back up your computer … maybe our grandchildren depending on which website we use may or may not be able to see our photos.” – Berners-Lee
What do you think, ladies and gentlemen? Are groups like Google and Facebook doing enough to bring us back our data so we can continue to use it in other exciting ways? Or are they being greedy? Is it their duty to provide us with more than they are now?