I have a side project going on right now where I'm working to define what I'm calling Domain Literacy. I am looking to take my knowledge of the web and APIs and help folks better understand some of the digital currents they are swept up in online each day. Whether its Silicon Valley hype, fake news, politics, or cybersecurity, APIs are being used to track, analyze, and influence people around the world.
My objective is to just help folks understand a little bit more about the dangers of consuming information online, and that there are many different domains you can operate within, as well as owning your own domain. I want folks to understand the motivations behind some popular domains like facebook.com, and twitter.com. I also want to help them discover which domains they can go to and find domain experts when it comes to security, privacy, and other areas of technology where they might need some assistance and education.
I want to help people understand that the web is always shifting, evolving, and sometimes this happens very quickly within startup culture but isn't limited to just the business arena. There are many factors that contribute to a domain being trustworthy or not, something that can change quickly. An example of this recently is whitehouse.gov, who has recently removed reliable information on climate change, LGBTQ rights, Spanish language, information for people with disabilities, and other important areas.
I am not saying everything published to whitehouse.gov will be inaccurate from here forward, or that everything was removed maliciously. I am just saying their track record on telling the truth isn't very good so far, and when using whitehouse.gov we should be skeptical about the content and data provided. We should be employing a healthy amount of skepticism anywhere on the web, and knowing which domain you are operating within, and some awareness of the trustworthiness and safety of a domain is important. You should know where you are entering your social security and credit card numbers, but you should also be aware of the quality of information you are consuming online, and who is pulling the strings.
I do not expect that you understand the technical underpinnings of the web, just possess a little awareness about the domain you are operating in within your browser, and the apps you install on your mobile phone. A little domain awareness and an understanding of who is behind a domain can go a long way towards helping improve our privacy, online security, and the quality of news and information we digest on a daily basis — something that can really impact how we see the world around us.