The Web's Big Build Backstory
Cameron here. Thank you for dedicating some of your time and attention to review the Web’s Big Build.
I’ve assembled a short backstory below, however, what I'd really like to emphasise is that the initiative isn’t about me or anything I’ve done. It’s about all of us having an opportunity to shape the next phase of our digital evolution, together.
The seed of the initiative took root in 2012, while I was working on the strategy for one of Australia’s larger urban renewal projects - the Melbourne Docklands. At the time, I became fascinated by the concept of every human being owning their own online space, just like we own our own homes.
This is a simple concept that most of us understand intuitively, and I was convinced that one day it'd be done.
Fast forward a few years and I was feeling a quite flat at work, so I decided to take the plunge and have a go at contributing to our digital world, instead of our physical one.
As always, my first attempts were experiments. I won’t say failures (or disasters) because they were actually what I needed, but they certainly didn’t feel like it at the time.
Among them was a go at establishing a global ‘collective care’ brand. The idea was to give people an opportunity to buy professional-grade personal care at web-direct prices, then choose where the profits went (Get it? ‘Collective Care’)!
After learning how to manufacture locally, engage audiences, partner with not-for-profits, compete effectively and ultimately ship to consumers, it became clear that all profits weren’t just zero, they were minus ‘generously’. We were having fun and learning but could barely afford to plant a tree.
At this point, the truth is I began to struggle. I spent hours trying to pick myself up through meditation and training (I've been training and teaching martial arts for over twenty years), and endless nights lying awake wondering if I’d “ruined everything”.
Returning to my job felt like an epic failure, so I simply had to continue. After examining potential pivots, the most obvious next step was to become a platform (not a product), where all brands could participate - a bit like a not-for-profit, for-purpose Amazon.
After scoping the platform, the enormity of the task set in and I realised that I was overwhelmed. I knew what needed to be done and the impact it could have. A global community-owned marketplace. Fully integrated giving and receiving. Imagine how incredible that could be!
The problem? Getting enough people to agree.
Fortunately, during the scoping process I connected with the work being done by Sir Berners-Lee and the MIT on Solid. To me, this was unequivocally the way. Finally, we could all own our own online homes, then link them to create our own social, trading and communal spaces too.
And so, here we are. Years of trial, error and humblings for me personally. Yet, hopefully, the start of something wonderful for all of us, together.
I deeply thank you for taking the time to contribute to the Web’s Big Build and I look forward to seeing how much joy we can create with our upgraded web, built on our very own homes.
If you haven't done so already, please visit the About page to learn more about how you can contribute to a revolutionary web, owned and empowered by us all.
Thank you for contributing your unique talents and point of view.