Over at Washington Monthly, Roger McNamee discusses How to Fix Facebook – Before It Fixes Us. It’s a good read, and while I may not agree with all of his suggestions, there’s some very astute observations in there:
This is important, because the internet has lost something very valuable. The early internet was designed to be decentralized. It treated all content and all content owners equally. That equality had value in society, as it kept the playing field level and encouraged new entrants. But decentralization had a cost: no one had an incentive to make internet tools easy to use. Frustrated by those tools, users embraced easy-to-use alternatives from Facebook and Google. This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides. This is a great business model for Facebook and Google—and convenient in the short term for customers—but we are drowning in evidence that there are costs that society may not be able to afford.
I’m going to try and not keep harping on this — there’s plenty of other things to think about and talk about. I’ve been an advocate for the “indieweb” for a long time, and the current realizations over how algorithmic content curation (with no one driving, no less) through single sources might not have been such a great idea certainly help vindicate the desire for a “smaller,” more independent web. That said, I’m painfully aware of some of the gaps in the indieweb space: many tools have an incredibly high bar for getting started, and several parts of the stack frankly just aren’t getting a lot of attention (the state of web galleries is the source of a semi-annual lament). If we’re going to make a serious stab at “making the internet smaller again,” there’s still a lot for us to do.