Racial equality is still not guaranteed even in the west and this has been proved as a result of mashup mapping carried out by a civil rights lawyer in 2009. In Coal Run Ohio there were maps showing which houses had black residents and which one had white. It was possible to tell which houses were attached to the water mains and which were not. While most white families had piped water, very few black did meaning it had to be collected from a well or even rainwater.
African Americans in Coal Run had been asking for changes for more than 50 years but it was always white families that were helped. It seems that the maps are finally getting the message across and according to Reed Colfax who is the residents representative “We could articulate the case in words “But when you’d put up the maps, they’d stop listening to you and look at them [as if to] say, ‘Is this really possible?’
Sir Tim Berners Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web is using this case to show the web can help people and sites Geoeye who realised imagery of Haiti after the earthquake and made things easier for relief workers. He said”The site rapidly became the map to use on the ground if you were doing relief work.”
This is the sort of thing Berners Lee hope the web would be used for but it has not been entirely the case. Charles Leadbeater who was once a policy adviser to Labour has released a report “A Better Web for the Nominet Trust” and claims it has not fulfilled its potential.
He said “There is some sense in which the internet is in danger of not meeting its potential, the promise that was there in the mid-2000s, which was about collaborating to create better ways to do things.”
Facebook is criticised for leading to time wasting and taking personal details and Berners Lee is critical of sites such as Twitter and Facebook due to the way they treat traffic. He wants online communication to be easy and has said to Zuckerberg “Don’t you dare make a phone that can only go to Facebook.com.”
It seems clear that the web as it exists is not the web that he was hoping for when he unleashed it on the world. Research shows that his hopes have not been abandoned but betrayed.