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An Open Web

10 Things You Can Do Now

As well as illustrating what we think the Open Web is, we also wanted to provide some practical steps that you can take towards this vision. The following are 10 steps starting with the most simple through to the more technical or involved.

Install a Free Browser

Install a recent version of the Firefox or Chrome browsers. They are free, open source and promote open standards. Without them the Open Web would be significantly diminished. If you keep your browser updated then it means that developers who are making tools for the Open Web can make good things happen faster.

Point your browser to http://www.mozilla.org/firefox or http://www.google.com/chrome and download them while they’re fresh.

Install Browser Plugins that enhance the Open Web

After installing a free browser, consider the following enhancements, and discover more:

Note also that your browser is also a powerful tool for developing Web content and applications, not only for surfing. See http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer/ and similar browser tools for developers.

Leave Facebook

If you haven’t joined consider not joining. If not you could consider leaving Facebook. We’re not advocating compulsory abolition. But we are Pro-Choice.

Within the menu system of Facebook you are encouraged to de-active rather than delete your Facebook account. This freezes your account but allows you to come back to it and thus retains all information.

However if you want the real deal then the form to delete your account can found here: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account

Remember that if you do this you cannot use Facebook or log into any other web services using your Facebook login for 14 days otherwise your account will not be deleted.

Share your knowledge about the Open Web

Why not use the information in this guide here to help spread the word? There has been a lot of good work done to create great resources to communicate how to keep the Web more open which can be used as well. You can blog or use email to talk about projects or software you’ve found useful. You can publicly rail against attempts to make the Web more closed. Use all channels. Transmit on all frequencies.

It is worth looking at the Mozilla Drumbeat website—http://www.drumbeat.org/—which lists and supports many Open Web projects. It also acts to spread the ideas and technologies behind the Open Web.

Install some Free Software

You don’t have to have a free operating system to use Free Software. There are many areas of computing where there is no need to pay for or to pirate software to achieve what you want to do. However, the process of trying software to find out how useful it is can be a bit wearing. One of the advantages and disadvantages of Free Software is that there is so much out there.

The FLOSS Manuals website—http://en.flossmanuals.net—which gives help about how to use Free Software, is a good place to look for software which fits your needs.

http://www.opensourcemac.org is a also great resource which lists recommended Free Software for Macs here http://opensourcewindows.org the same, for Windows.

Use Status.net

Status.net is a micro-blogging service, similar to twitter. It is decentralized and Open Source (Free Software). This means you can run your own status.net installation.

If you don’t want to have to install your own status.net installation, you can get an account on or http://identi.ca or look at a cloud or self-hosted installation at http://status.net.

Status.net has some other neat features:

  • You can automatically attach pictures or video to posts, so you don’t need to hand your content to another party like twitpic or plixi.
  • You can create/join groups. Posts into groups are distributed to all its members, whether they are following you or not.
  • You can take an RSS feed from a blog and automatically bring its latest posts into your timeline.
  • If you have a newish mobile phone (e.g., Android or iPhone ) you can install a status.net application from your appstore to make publishing and reading your time line simple.

Status.net makes easy to link your account to a Twitter or Facebook account so that updates that you make on Status.net are cross posted. This maybe a good way of starting a migration to a more open tool if you don’t want to leave Twitter and Facebook behind completely

It may also be useful if you wanted to update accounts used when leaking sensitive information, organizing demonstrations or other situations where greater anonymity is useful.

Provide your Website in other Languages

To provide your website in different languages easily, the best option would be to choose a Content Management system that supported localization. Localization is a term which encompasses translation and other adaptations (including changing images) which may be necessary to make your content suitable for audiences in different parts of the world.

http://en.flossmanuals.net/opentranslationtools is a great manual on Open Translation Tools.

Install a free Operating System

Installing a free Operating System marks a significant moment in your progress as foot soldier in the war for the Open Web. Many would advise you to start with an Operating System that does a lot of the hard work for you and ‘just works.’ Ubuntu has by far the biggest take up of Linux operating systems.

You can ask Ubuntu to send you an installation CD but most people download the CD for free from http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download and burn themselves a copy. Booting from the CD will walk you through installing it on your computer. If you have a current installation of Windows you have the option to try them side by side, in what is known as a dual boot. You get to compare which operating system you prefer. Let the duel begin.

Learn to make a Web page

http://p2pu.org/webcraft is a great project which can talk you through the stages involved in this process of creating websites. It’s called the School of Webcraft, a project dedicated to providing web developer training that’s free, open and globally accessible.

Become a Cybrarian and use Semantic Web in your pages

The Cybrarian is a Librarian in Cyberspace. They are dedicated to the radical idea of making knowledge as open as possible using the Web. Their weapons are wikis and their allies are search engines. If you want to further the cause of the Web as a common repository for all then you can look to include machine readable format so that your data can become part of the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web has the ability to act as the missing indexing service for the Web.

The Semantic Web is a concept which has been advocated for some time but still seems somewhat slippery. http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Metadata provides a definition:

The Semantic Web is the part of the Web available in RDF. The idea behind the concept of the Semantic Web is that when enough pages carry this machine-processable metadata, developers can build tools that take advantage of it. RDF can also be used to create more powerful search engines.

Linked Data is a less confusing term now used for Semantic Web technologies deployed on the Web.

The latest version of the popular web publishing system Drupal contains RDF support out of the box, which is a big step forward in this struggle.


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