The Web We Want

What are the characteristics of an ideal online space? What would online peace entail? The inventor of the World Wide Web asked all of us to think about: what kind of Internet do we want? What would a Magna Carta for the Web include? And how can we act to bring about the Web we want? 


Spectrum of Actions

We can act in many different ways to achieve our goals. Our actions can be reactive or proactive. Or they could focus on cultivating new social meanings, norms, or forms of behaviour. There is a wide range of models and spectrums that can be used to characterize our different actions.


Three Areas of Action

In general, there are three areas in which we may act to build peace: 

  • Intervention—Responding to an occurrence or event so that it will de-escalate, end, or cease to be violent;
  • Systemic/Structural Change—designing processes, policies and structures which make it more difficult to resort to violence and decrease the likelihood that violent/serious conflict will occur.
  • Cultural Change—Creating a culture of peace, as well as a culture intolerant of violence.

These three areas are interrelated, with progress in one area contributing to progress in the other two. Peace building in the digital age requires us to engage with our technological context and data environment when acting in each of these areas.


The Wikipedia Example

We can see these different expressions of peace building actions in the range of strategies that Wikipedia employs to deal with editorial conflicts in its global online community: Wikipedia’s vandalism detection bot is an example of an intervening technology; the five pillars of its founding principles are examples of action at the structural level; and the good faith assumption that Wikipedia asks all of its members to adopt fosters the collaborative culture that makes Wikipedia possible.