So have been following Dave Winer for years, but recently he’s been pushing these super important morsels. Not sure best way to link to this (especially he he gets no referral data…) but here goes with a Mastodon embed…
His observation is that the referrer header isn’t some arcane technical feature, it’s a key, structural component of how the web is supposed to work. You ask me for a copy of a file (copies of the data sent in tiny chunks called packets) in my “www” folder and my server agrees and sends the data. That server create a log of each of these requests and it’s fundamental that each request has an originator, which machine asked for this data?
Originally we were supposed to be building a global environment for sharing and collaboration. Not only was the service supposed to be ubiquitous, the barrier to entry was as low as possible, anyone, or almost anyone, was suppose to be able to hack some simple content together and dump it in the www sharing folder.
The reason I’m writing this is we keep having our commons taken from us.
Yes, we want privacy, yes, we want to use digital to drive business models, of course we do, but who is keeping an eye on the original infrastructure? Just as business owners are successfully getting away with shipping equipment (see HDMI cables) that is defective by design infrastructure owners like Google make rules based on how their platforms operate.
Most normal citizens don’t care, or don’t notice, but these changes are a theft of the commons. A neutral and open community ecosystem that we built together is being influenced by private hands.