A Web for People

I recently came across an inspiring post by Jack Chen, called The Slow Web, where he summarizes the need of a Web that respects the nature of its users and where he analyzes cases of good practice. “Slow” means that interaction happens timely and without overburdening the users, in harmony with the personal rhythm of their daily lives and that hereby knowledge is acquired, instead of flushing information through their minds.

The term, of course, stems from Slow Food and is closely related to movements promoting a pedestrian-friendly traffic, sustainable energy production and consumption, and a generally more holistic perception of our bodies and minds, paying more attention to our needs that are perceived as genuine. It often seeks to promote a self-aware individualism for the benefit of mankind, finding the right place on earth for each of us.

The Slow Web, however, is most likely nothing that will prevent global warming or armed conflicts. I rather see it in the tradition of consumer disobedience and empowerment, in the proximity of peer-to-peer technologies like file sharing and micro-payments, in line with increased privacy awareness and the crowdsourcing of grassroots politics on a New Web that is re-claimed by its users, the people. The Slow Web is therefore closely related to the protests against SOPA and ACTA when concerned citizens took their websites offline – can it get slower than suspended?

Slow Web might in analogy to these protests mean to simply turn off your computer and smartphone. Now that the discussion has gained momentum whether to make access to Internet a human right, will we need to formulate as well the right to remain offline?

The disobedience against the Fast Web already comes in many guises: Ignoring invitations where companies fake my friends’ identities. Marking all messages in my news folder as read. Skipping some seasons of must-use social sharing platforms.

Slow Web is about changing habits, and accepting other people changing theirs. Resisting the temptation to play Big Brother in their lives. Overcoming the fear of being disconnected, unprotected, outside the calming buzzing of a crowd. Finding your strength to say no.


photo by Andy Ciordia @ Flickr