Layers models are commonly used for understanding the functionality of networks, such as those used in the telecommunications industry. Drawing on the works of Benkler, Zittrain and others, this project uses a similar conceptual model for illustrating how the Internet functions. We will define this here as a 'Layers Model for the Open Internet'.
There are four elements to this model. The first, sat at the bottom, is the Physical Layer, or the Internet's actual physical infrastructure. The second is the Logical Layer, or the digital code that operates over the infrastructure. The third layer contains informational digital media, defined as the Content Layer. The final layer, at the top of the pile, is the Social Layer, or what people do as a result of the existence of the Internet.
Each layer is interdependent. Degrees of openness operate at each layer, meaning that openness at one layer can enable openness at another. Some would change the names of each layer, others might add or subtract layers from this model, meaning that this is not a network-wide consensually applied model. The important point, however, is that it provides us with distinct categories that we can use in analysing the Internet and its effects.
Visit the individual layer pages to find out more and to add your ideas for how to retain the beneficial qualities of openness at that layer.