A Web Trust to Publish and Store Our Creative Work

The discussion at this weekend's flash conference in NYC on WikiLeaks raised the question of where we can store our web writing and photos so that they are as safe as they possibly can be. Trusting corporations to manage this is obviously not a good idea. If this was theoretical before, it's now pragmatic, after Amazon cut off WikiLeaks.

That suggests that we need a new kind of institution that is is part news organization, university, library and foundation -- that acts as a guarantor of best-possible freedom from corporate and government limitations. We already know some things about this organization, I believe.

These are just back-of-the-envelope scribbles. Consider this a discussion-starter for the next meetup.

1. It must be long-lived, like a university -- probably with an endowment, and a board of trustees, and operations limited to what's described below. It can't operate any other kind of business.

2. It must create a least-common-denominator storage system that is accessible through HTTP. Everything must be done with open formats and protocols, meaning all components of its system are replaceable.

3. It must cost money, so the user is a customer and is treated as one. This also allows the vendor to assume its own independence from the interests of the publisher who uses the system. The same way the operator of a printing press was not responsible for the words he or she printed on the paper.

4. Simplicity of the user experience is primary so it can be accessible to as many as possible, and so that technical people don't provide yet another filter for the free flow of ideas. Factor and re-factor for simplicity.

5. The trust must serve the bits exactly as they were published. No advertising.

That's where I want to pick up the discussion.

This post originally appeared at Scripting News.