What is it that makes the Internet peculiar? It is a network of networks. Etymologically speaking the word Internet is an abbreviation of the term Internetwork. One of the first requirements of the Internet* was to provide a resilient structure which could be free from attacks as it had no specific centre to focus attacks on. The Internet connects networks together. Today, the attention given to data and APIs used to link different networks together is nothing new nor surprising. Nothing surprising at least in the eyes of the professionals who work in the sector for whom data exchange between different systems, networks, computers, and software is the founding principle for opening up the Internet. It’s a way of thinking, a logic and categorical requirement.
Internet users in captivity?
At the time of big data, unstructured data, the obsession with anti-silos, mash-ups, and multichannel, the notion of a closed Internet and control is far from having disappeared. Of course, we are no longer at the time of AOL trying to recreate its own Internet, and I also am not referring to the Iranian or Korean Internets which are absurd national Intranets that have nothing in common with the Web that we know and are familiar with. I am talking about the desire of the major players in the Web, which we all use on a daily basis, who are continually searching to widen their offer to become The Internet and confine Internet users as much as possible to an ecosystem of services which is specific to them. Google and Apple are at the forefront, however, they are not the only ones.
The idea is simple and involves capturing the interest of Internet users and companies to increase and secure their sources of revenue. The term captive does not seem to cause them the slightest problem in the least, but I really don’t think that it corresponds to Internet users’ expectations. In addition to the issues of respecting private life, abuse of monopolies or tax derivatives, there is another element which, to me, condemns this approach: it is the exact opposite of what the Internet is. An open system, a network of the best solutions. The big system which does everything on its own simply doesn’t work. The Internet is too complex, too varied, advances too quickly, and for just one system, as large and powerful as it may be, it is not possible to contain the Internet and satisfy the needs all of the different components that it is made up of. What one area does a hotel site, a private sales site, a ministry, a national radio or the secure zone of a banking site have in common? There are hundreds of CMS, email campaign systems, retargeting and testing systems available and this is for the better as the Internet is neither singular, nor can it be reduced. For each problem that exists, there is an adapted, relevant solution which becomes available.
The importance of APIs
What is the relationship between Web Analytics and AT Internet? We believe that it is our obligation to open our system to the best solutions available in the market, and to give our clients the choice of synchronising their key Web Analytics data with their ecosystem. They will know what they need. Here are a few examples: we work with Leboncoin, Bordeaux City Hall, Soundcloud, the sites of the Carrefour group, as well as the majority of the leading French banks. It is clear that these different clients do not need to use the same CMS, same adserver and do not use the same Business Intelligence (BI) or CRM systems. Are we going to force them to use a package which would be the best, simply because it would be ours? Of course not, not now and not in the future. We just want to be assured that our system respects a fundamental rule (which in our opinion should apply to all Internet tools): that it is open and can be used to easily and quickly import and export data (this is not as obvious as it might seem as everyone, or almost everyone has an API, but the performances and comprehensiveness of APIs can reveal some surprises). Each person is free to make their own choice, to find the best complimentary tool and create the best Internetwork possible. Of course, we are able to find these additional tools, and create the links so that each tool can communicate with one another. However, each individual or company needs to choose their own tool.
Taste and software
Here is another illustration of the abundance of choice available on the “Network”. The Internet is criticised for having damaged musical creations and there is undoubtedly a problem of pirating. However, I have no sympathy for the music industry which over several years forced an over-marketed mix of music on us, and which left in the shadows fantastic musicians such as Sixto Rodriguez (don’t miss the documentary on his rediscovery). If we can see gems such as Laura Marling, Foxygen, Dan Magan appear, or keep the memory of Sublime alive, it’s thanks to the openness made possible by the new broadcasting networks. These musical choices are of course subjective (you can let me know what you think) and that is the idea behind it. You must make your technical choices in the same way as you would make your musical choices, in other words choose what you prefer. Don’t let the marketing service of leading companies (or software publishers), whose main goal is to create a monopoly and make a profit from their advertising investments, influence your choices. You will have the opportunity to choose what corresponds exactly to your needs from the large abundance of creative tools available.
Please, let’s leave the Internet open, let the richness of the Internet speak for itself, protect it from the slightest closure, and centralisation.
*Note: it is not a question here of getting involved in the debate of the Internet’s military, scientific or commercial origins, but simply mentioning one of them.