Exploring a Center for a People-Centered Internet

Participants in the discussion; Photo by Bill Daul, used by permission

This weekend, I was honored to join Vint Cerf, Mei Lin Fung, and a host of others in a discussion about what a “People-Centered Internet” would look like, and how to bring it about. Mei Lin invited me to bring the perspective of the Wikipedia community. I was gratified by how receptive the group was to my perspective. In a nutshell, I proposed the idea that Wikipedia stands as an important example of what is possible in a people-centered Internet, and that valuable lessons can be drawn from both its extraordinary and unique success and its most vexing problems.

My specific perspective was a bit of an outlier, in a group whose experiences, ideas, and accomplishments related mostly to specific sectors (mainly health care), and/or to building network infrastructure. This made for excellent discussions, both as a panelist and in informal conversations. The core vision for an Internet that is “for the people, of the people, and most importantly governed by the people” (as articulated by Anil Srivastava of the Open Systems Health Laboratory) found something of an anchor in the idea of Wikipedia.

In this post, I’d like to reflect on a few ways this project connects to my life and career. In the life journey that has brought me to Wikipedia — and a focus on the social dynamics that make that project possible — several areas relating to technology and computer networks have stood out.

I wish I could reflect something of every conversation I had, but I’m not prepared to write a book today! Instead, if you’d like to learn more, I recommend Vincent Everts‘ series of video interviews. Start with his conversation with convener Vint Cerf. He interviewed me as well. Those videos are embedded below, and make a good starting point for exploring the whole series.

About Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, and a Wikipedia expert. Full bio here: wikistrategies.net/pete-forsyth
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