The present web consists of open public zones as well as closed private zones. There are different opinions about keeping internet open or closed to all people. Some people believe that web access should be treated as a human right. They believe that openness of web would overcome limitations imposed by elites over knowledge (FLOSS Manuals, n.d.). On the other hand many others are of the view that web access should not remain open all the time since antisocial elements can misuse the openness of the web. This paper analyses the pros and cons of keeping the web open for all and argues against the openness of web.
As per the views of Christopher Mims, the editor of The Wall Street Journal, wide-open web launched a thousand new businesses and a million new ideas over the past two decades (McKendrick, 2014). The openness of the web helped people all over the world to innovate many things. For example, the arrival of ecommerce companies such as E-bay and Amazon is helping people all over the world to purchase products which are unavailable in their countries. For example, new models of iPhones arrive in Indian market very late. It is possible for Indians to purchase new models of iPhones from American market using the services of companies such as E-bay and Amazon. The openness of the web helped Indians in this regard.
At the same time, there are many instances in which the openness of the web creates problems in a society. For example, web consists of many pornographic and adult materials. The logic of exposing such materials to children or underage people is questionable. It is quite possible that many unhealthy incidents may take place in the society once children get opportunities to access adult materials from the web. According to Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort (2003), one of the defining dreams of new media is the conversion of information explosion into knowledge explosion. At the same time, the question about whether all information is useful for all people or not is extremely relevant here.
As per the views of Reed (2014), the cultural history of internet is strange in large part because of the series of unexpected and unplanned transformations occurred to it. Even the creators of the web never anticipated that the web will undergo such a huge transformation within a short period of time. In fact, many of the hidden potentials of the internet and web have been unveiled in the recent past. For example, ecommerce and social networking like activities were not in the distant dreams of the creators of the web when they were developing the algorithms of web. At present, a major share of the web usage is for ecommerce and social networking. Nowadays people use a major share of their leisure time for socializing or communicating with their friends on Facebook and Twitter like social networks. Many of such communication occur cross culturally. Such cross cultural communication often help people to get international exposure. Therefore, keeping the web open for all seems to be a good policy at the surface level. However, such policies may backfire at times. For example, antisocial elements can misuse web in many ways. For example, imagine a case in which a person uses internet banking services. He has to provide his username and password in order to get the services online. If the bank employs an open policy, it is possible for the antisocial elements to hack the username and password and misuse them for personal gains. Therefore, it is logical to argue that webpages cannot be kept open all the time. There are times at which it becomes mandatory to close certain websites.
There are some constraints enforced by some companies against the openness of the web. “You can’t get to the Apple App Store without an Apple iPhone. You can’t use Google Play (Android Marketplace) with an Apple device. And so on”(McKendrick, 2014). A web page created under Mac OS may not work properly when it is used under Windows OS and vice versa. A lot of compatibility issues may prevent people from using a Mac document on Windows or vice versa. Business interests force companies like Apple and Microsoft to enforce some restrictions upon people when they use web on different platforms. At the same time, Linux is trying to overcome this problem. They believe in providing free software to the people. Unlike Mac OS and Windows OS, Linux users need not pay any money for the use of Linux software. It should be noted that Linux failed to catch the same popularity as that of Windows even though it is free software. It is evident that the performance of Linux is not as smooth as that of Windows.
To conclude, the openness of the web is acceptable in certain cases but not in all cases. Many unwanted and unhealthy incidents may take place in a society once the web remains open for all. Therefore, the transparency of the web need not be preserved in all cases.
- FLOSS Manuals (n.d). The Myth of Openness.
- McKendrick, J. (2014). Are mobile apps destroying the openness of the web?
- Reed, T.V. (2014). Digitized lives: culture power and social change in the internet era. Routledge. 2014.
- Wardrip-Fruin, N and Montfort, N (2003). The new media reader. The NIT Press London 2013.