Since early 2000, the World Wide Web has become a common place for online communities to collaborate and exchange information. Most of that exchange occurs under the auspices of equal participation on platforms that in fact are privately owned and controlled. In his article ‘The social web and its social contracts’ Michel Bauwens states such conflict clearly: “The social web facilitates an unprecedented level of social sharing, but it does so mostly through the vehicle of proprietary platforms.” (Bauwens 2008)
The centralization of control existing in communities based on the Web is not specific to some platforms but it is inherent to the Web architecture. The Web, as we know it today, is based on a client-server architecture using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) as a communication standard. The power relations existing on the web have been extensively analyzed by Alexander Galloway on his book ‘Protocol – How control exists after decentralization’. For the sake of brevity, this text focuses on the less discussed aspect of server-client architectures.
- Rui Guerra (PT/NL) is involved in open source culture with a critical view on communities. Besides teaching at the Royal Academy of Art (the Hague) and working at V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media (Rotterdam, NL), he has initiated several self-organized events and developed participatory art projects..
Full text (PDF) p. 225-226