Week 6: Our Digital Future

Week 6: Our Digital Future

Reading & Review

For our final week in the initiative, we will spend some time reflecting on the future of the web and digital technologies. Where do we go from here, what's on the horizon, and how does it affect us?

In Anil Dash's post on “The Web We Lost,” he speaks of an earlier time when interoperability, open source, and sharing were standard and common. Dash recognizes, perhaps rightly so, that the current trend with companies is to lock the user into a given service. Portability is sacrificed to keep users embedded within a given service (and therefore increase advertisement revenue). In his follow-up post Dash offers a glimmer of hope in how web professionals and indeed the web community can rebuild what we lost. Commitments to funding and using services and startups that practice the same open standards that Udell argued for in his "7 Ways" post are just a few of the recommendations. Do you see a fundamental shift in how we perceive web services today? Do you agree with Dash's review of the status quo as it concerns the current web?

In Markoff's article we begin to understand how policy could affect the internet and the World Wide Web going forward. The question of whether the future of the internet will be a dystopian attempt at control is reinforced by the recent article in Wired magazine regarding the announcement that Comcast has agreed to provide special access to Netflix, a faster internet connection to a third party than previously available to other sites. This concept of Net Neutrality is not a new fight—it is an argument that has been waged for years. Shouldn't the internet be treated as a public utility, a good that should be provided at a fair cost to everyone without tiered programs that favor specific websites or status of customer? Especially problematic is the reality that Comcast and indeed many other internet providers are also cable providers with an inherent interest in controlling the ability of third party services like Netflix and Hulu to succeed.

We also take a look this week at how the web and the internet protocol are pushing forward new designs and possibilities in the way we live. Sterling's prescient talk on the “Internet of Things” in 2007 posits that a new host of devices connected to the web will emerge in utility with the ability to notify us on demand. We see this already coming true with things like the Nest product line (recently acquired by Google) that connects your smoke alarms and thermostats to smartphone apps giving you a completely controlled and customized experience. In fact, a wifi-enabled crockpot stole the show this year at the Consumer Electronics Show with its promise to allow you to begin cooking dinner at home from the comfort of your office. Bitcoin is another technology that allows for alternative forms of currency and payment that are inherently digital and use the internet as a banking protocol. How will these developments in technology inform our understanding of what it means to be a “digital citizen”? How are you embracing the web in your own life in perhaps unexpected ways, and how will these developments advance or hinder that?

Other Work

In this final week we'd like you to explore how you can integrate other technology and social media into your domain and expand its utility. Take a look at the wide variety of WordPress plugins to see if there's something that would meet a particular need. Also explore the site If This Then That, which allows you to easily automate separate spaces. So, for example, you can post a Facebook status when you send a Tweet or upload a photo to Flickr and have it automatically be sent to your blog as well. Begin to think about how you will move forward with building out your domain as the second piece of the Domain of One's Own Faculty Initiative. In addition to being eligible for a supplemental stipend, building out your domain to include your scholarship, teaching statement, CV, and other relevant information is a great way to continue to connect with your learning network and build out your professional presence on the web. For more information on the stipend, see Mary Kayler, and please also reach out to your cohort leader for one-on-one assistance as you work through that process.