What should people have? Like all people, just because we are people?
The nice people at Mozilla–the open internet organization that spun off of internet OG Netscape and built Firefox for your browsing pleasure–defines a hierarchy of needs to include food, water, shelter and “the Internet.” Now, one could definitely take this list to task. Like how about access to vaccines and health care? Access to clean air? Access to safety?
I wouldn’t disagree with that criticism, but I saw this huge blue sign hanging off the side of a building and started to unpack this Internet thing. What does it mean? What does it mean to have access to the Internet?
We believe the Internet is at its best as a global public resource, open and accessible to all.
The tag line says to “keep the internet fair and open.” But this begs what it means to be accessible. Is simply being there enough? Because in order to actually access the internet–if access means to use versus being passively available–there are a bunch of other things you need.
- Like electricity, or some way to generate, transfer and store energy to use to power #2
- A device–a computer or cell phone or other type of tool–that can receive and transmit to #3
- You need access to the grid. Even if you can make your own electricity, you need some way to jump on the grid–like wire or satellite or a cellular phone tower–so you can get to that fair and open field.
What happens when you arrive at that fair and open space? Well, literacy is pretty important since much of what’s available has to be read. Even non-text information almost always requires text input to connect to it–either typing in a URL or using a search engine or following a link.
Unpacking the ability to read I get to the ability to see–or hear in some cases. (And if you can’t hear, you damn well better be able to read.)
So, maybe Mozilla is really advocating for universal education, improved infrastructure and accessibility to the devices and the ability to get value out of the devices for everyone.
That’s pretty radical. Because ensuring that the internet is fair and open only to people who have access to the tools of access is neither open nor fair.
Next up, let’s take a closer look at that list of basic needs.