Wednesday, July 09, 2003


In Medieval Europe, the vast majority of labor was provided by serfs, people who were bound to a specific plot of land, but who didn't own that land or the output of their labor. They weren't slaves, because they couldn't be bought and sold and thus weren't property. I'm at David Weinberger's talk at Supernova, and he's talking about the threat of a network in which we as users don't own the software we use; where proprietary applications hold central, priviledged positions. His example is that IRS tax forms are in PDF, meaning that Adobe Acrobat, a proprietary application, is necessary to interface with the government.

Inspired by Dan Gillmor's characterization of this (on the simultaneous chat line) as serfdom, I call this world "webserfing."