The Web Is for User Agency




  • The Web is the set of digital networked technologies that work to increase user agency. (View Highlight)
  • We’re all familiar with vaporware freedoms: you are given a nominal right to do something but the world is architected in such a way to effectively prevent the exercise of that right (View Highlight)
  • In response to this, Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen developed a pragmatic understanding of quality-of-life and social justice known as the capabilities approach. I think that it may not be stupid for technologists to look at how others have approached some questions rather than just winging it. The capabilities approach asks ”What each person is able to do and to be?” (View Highlight)
  • Amartya Sen put it, ”Individual freedom is quintessentially a social product, and there is a two-way relation between 1) social arrangements to expand individual freedoms and 2) the use of individual freedoms not only to improve the respective lives but also to make the social arrangements more appropriate and effective.” The motivation here is clear: increasing agency has to include the ability to influence collective systems as well as effective avenues for collective action. Under this view, the Web is (as per Aurora Apolito) “a form of ‘collectivity’ that everywhere locally maximizes individual agency, while making collective emergent structures possible and interesting.” (View Highlight)