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Social Networks The Internet Technology

The Web We Lost 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the left-it-in-our-other-pants dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Anil Dash has an insightful post about cutting through the social media hype to see all of the social functionality we've lost on the web over the past decade. 'We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich. But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilities of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be. ... We get bulls*** turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.'"
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The Web We Lost

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:29AM (#42286443)

    Most of the stuff this guy is bitching about is stuff that is STILL THERE. You can still create your own website and post whatever the hell you like, create whatever community you damn well please, etc. Unless you're in a country like China or Iran, you have every bit as much freedom today on the internet as you did 10 or 15 years ago.

    Just because people CHOOSE to use social sites like Facebook and give up certain freedoms in the process doesn't mean anything has been lost. About the only area where I see where freedom has really been lost is in the increasing prevalence of tablets, phones, and likely soon even laptops that are behind software "walled gardens," like iOS. And even if that case, no one is *forcing* anyone to buy those devices.

    And as for complaining about the lack of standards in sites sharing info, well WTF is new? Companies developing proprietary formats for sharing info is hardly something that Twitter just discovered recently.

    To me this guy just sounds like another FOSS zealot bitching because the world doesn't work like he wants it to, and things didn't turn out like the Open Source utopia he had envisioned in 2000.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:33AM (#42286475)

      You are right - I just checked and my server in the basement is still serving up the same photo album it did 10 years ago. Phew! :)

      The existence of Facebook or Twitter in no way diminishes my ability to put up a crappy website or to fire up a usenet client. IRC is even still around.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Exactly, if the noobs leave the web it's better for both of us, I don't see a problem here.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        ... if the noobs leave the web it's better for both of us, I don't see a problem here.

        Nah; on balance they almost certainly add to the Web's value. For example, I've been running a "search" site for a few hundred sites that put a certain variety of rather technical information online. The data is in a format that google and other natural-language search sites don't understand. It's reasonable that google wouldn't want to bother dealing with a highly-technical data format that has only a few thousand users world-wide, and there are now hundreds (maybe thousands) of specialized search sit

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:57AM (#42286707)

      I'm putting little stock in a blogger who bitches about how Facebook is ruining the web, yet uses it for his blog comments.

    • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:00AM (#42286737) Homepage Journal
      No kidding. No one turned off all the protocols and forced you to use a web browser for everything. I can still hack up a socket server and serve binary data to an application. The only obstacles here are the ones you create with your own mind. Most of the early Internet was built by students. It wasn't some company that wrote the first news reader, or the early networked game clients (Like Xtrek, Conquest and the like.) You could implement your own damn internets, if you wanted to, with blackjack and hookers. Whether anyone would come to it is another question entirely, but you could build it if you wanted to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I used to be part of a network of computers called a BBS (bulletin board system) and that was back in the early 90's before there even was a web.... I knew several friends who were working on the code for AOL and several others... In those days you had a sysop (system operator) who ran a BBS... You would dail up his or her computer, leave posts, upload and download files and yes send lots of emails... great way to get messages around.... Then came the web and things got so much bigger and better..... Do I m

      • You could implement your own damn internets, if you wanted to, with blackjack and hookers. Whether anyone would come to it is another question entirely, but you could build it if you wanted to.

        If you build it they will, er... "come."

    • by ISurfTooMuch (1010305) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:03AM (#42286769)

      I have to agree. I've been around long enough to remember when people built their own Web sites. First, they built crappy sites on the space their ISP gave them, than, when sites like Geocities and Tripod came along, many of them moved there. Facebook isn't really that much different. Well, it is in that you can't actually build a page/site to look the way you want, but many people couldn't do that anyway, which is why those site-builder tools at Geocities and Tripod were so appealing. And what did they do with the sites they built? Often, they posted pictures of their babies, dogs, cats, etc.; you know, the same thing they're doing on Facebook now.

      But OK, we have lost something if you look at it from the perspective of people getting out there, building sites, sharing all sorts of useful info, or whatever it was that we thought people were going to do on the Internet. That never really happened, but is that so surprising? We've tended to misunderstand how every new technology will be used, so why should the Internet be any different? And besides, creating content takes time, and creating quality content takes lots of time. Most folks are tired when they come home from work. They want to read others' content, not create their own. And yet, we still manage to see content posted online. Look at all the forums out there. In fact, I had to do some research on seizures yesterday, and I found the info that I needed in some of these forums.

      And if, after reading this, someone is still lamenting what we've lost, then they can get out there and try to get it back. It's going to be hard to change user behavior, but there's nothing stopping them from trying.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        But OK, we have lost something if you look at it from the perspective of people getting out there, building sites, sharing all sorts of useful info, or whatever it was that we thought people were going to do on the Internet. That never really happened, but is that so surprising?

        What do you mean? Every hobby has an associated website or more, and a community where people share their projects, personal experiences, documentation, etc. All this takes place on forums and wikis, not social networks like faceb

        • True, but, back in the day, the expectation was that just about everyone was going to be a content producer running a Web server out of their house. That never happened.

      • by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:06PM (#42288221)

        I have to agree. I've been around long enough to remember when people built their own Web sites. First, they built crappy sites on the space their ISP gave them, than, when sites like Geocities and Tripod came along, many of them moved there.

        Blogs are really just evolved versions of Geocities and Tripod. Just easier for the masses to use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sir_Eptishous (873977)
      The fascinating thing is how the public now thinks that FB is "The Web/Internet". They chat through it, post pics, etc; Everything is done via FB and for someone to go to a site outside of FB is almost alien to many in that "Gilded Cage".

      Scary and fascinating at the same time.
      • Why is that fascinating? Many people thought AOL, Compuserve, etc. were the Internet during their heydays. In fact, what tou stated is a pretty mundane observation.

      • The fascinating thing is how the public now thinks that FB is "The Web/Internet".

        Kind of like the way a lot of people used to think "the web" and "the internet" were the same thing ... But no one on Slashdot would make a silly mistake like that, of course.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Most of the stuff this guy is bitching about is stuff that is STILL THERE.

      I think his point is more along the lines of "get off my lawn". Ten years ago the web was far better in some ways -- almost no intrusive advertising, because it was mostly folks putting up personal sites. No ford.com or pepsi.com. Yes, most of it was poorly designed by people who had no clue how to design anything, but now you have the web 99% commercial, still designed by people who have no business designing anything.

      On the other ha

    • by skeptical_monster (1436977) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:57AM (#42287425)
      You actually named the glaring problem. Smartphones and tablets and such don't use open standards to share data, they are apps that are not searchable, not based on standards, and can only be built by someone who knows objective C or whatever. The threat is that tablets and smartphones are going to so deeply undercut the PC market that virtually everyone moves to using proprietary apps in walled gardens, and the web itself shrinks to almost nothing. Then the "medium" becomes the domain of elite programmers and the data becomes wholly owned by the app owners. The web is important because it is open AND widely used. If it is no longer widely used then it isn't as useful.
    • Are you sure?

      Last time I checked usenet was blocked by my provider. Last time I checked (today) the local mafiaa was sueing political parties that dared to offer peer-to-peer systems into oblivion. Hell, even the mobile provider blocks the weather sites so they can sell the weather info as an "extra". The internet may technically still exists, but just less so.

    • This article was a load a horse shit. In the first item, he talks about how RSS is no longer used, and my eyes popped out of my head a little. Just because it's ubiquitous, and nobody's really excited about it doesn't mean that it isn't there. In fact, I would make the argument that the number of rss feeds on the web today is an order of magnitude higher than it's ever been, and expanding daily. It's just built into everything, so you don't really notice it.
    • Reminds me of a Wired article [wired.com] I read for a class one time. The assignment was to read the article and "summarize the directions that commercial use of technology is moving to provide content, away from the open, free web."

      I slammed the article in my assignment, calling it out for what it is: bullshit. Of course, one cane make that conclusion just by knowing it's from Wired...

    • by f3rret (1776822) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:40PM (#42287927)

      Most of the stuff this guy is bitching about is stuff that is STILL THERE. You can still create your own website and post whatever the hell you like, create whatever community you damn well please, etc. Unless you're in a country like China or Iran, you have every bit as much freedom today on the internet as you did 10 or 15 years ago.

      Just because people CHOOSE to use social sites like Facebook and give up certain freedoms in the process doesn't mean anything has been lost. About the only area where I see where freedom has really been lost is in the increasing prevalence of tablets, phones, and likely soon even laptops that are behind software "walled gardens," like iOS. And even if that case, no one is *forcing* anyone to buy those devices.

      And as for complaining about the lack of standards in sites sharing info, well WTF is new? Companies developing proprietary formats for sharing info is hardly something that Twitter just discovered recently.

      To me this guy just sounds like another FOSS zealot bitching because the world doesn't work like he wants it to, and things didn't turn out like the Open Source utopia he had envisioned in 2000.

      Well to be fair he does have some points. Not that we so much 'lost' anything on the 'net, just that the way it is used has changed a lot over the last 20 years or so.

      Like the example with links (which is one of the only good points he makes in the article I think) I remember back in the 90ies or there abouts it was commonplace for websites to have a 'links' section where whoever was running the site could post likes they thought would also be relevant or interesting to their readership.

      This, in fact, was the whole reason that the PageRank algorithm was designed in the way it was, outgoing links were taken as being an 'endorsement' of the site being linked to by the site it was linked from.
      Now links are used in a completely different way, like, while people will still have their 'links' section. In many cases sites are set up to generate a ton of out-links to sites in their little network and in turn receive a bunch of in-links from other sites in the same network, thus generating a higher PageRank.

      Now is it bad that the way the 'net functions has changed, eh, I don't know. I did like the Wild West feel of the old internet though. Though, I suppose that has sort of moved on to the likes of TOR and stuff now.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Most of the stuff this guy is bitching about is stuff that is STILL THERE. You can still create your own website and post whatever the hell you like, create whatever community you damn well please, etc. Unless you're in a country like China or Iran, you have every bit as much freedom today on the internet as you did 10 or 15 years ago.

      Exactly.

      All that's happened is the same thing that's happened when any piece of technology starts being used by the masses.

      Think stuff like cars - I'm sure all the mechanics c

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:36AM (#42286499) Journal

    they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich

    For better or for worse, these are very important things in a Capitalistic society.

    But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves

    For better or for worse, these are completely worthless things in a Capitlistic society.

    We get bulls*** turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

    So it has been, so it is now and so it always shall be: Money drives everything. I don't understand Anil Dash's point and I didn't get much new information from it. It's pretty generic. Make observations (very easy) and then offer conclusions that are bland and optimistic like:

    We'll fix these things; I don't worry about that. The technology industry, like all industries, follows cycles, and the pendulum is swinging back to the broad, empowering philosophies that underpinned the early social web. But we're going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.

    Wow this guy uses some pretty strong rhetoric for not having to explain how this is ever going to be fixed. Also, I feel like he fails to even scratch the surface of what is a very deep "intellectual property" hole of copyright and patents giving the mindset that other companies shouldn't use our ideas to make money or we want that money. And that is so ingrained right now that I don't see "we'll fix these things" as a given. Also this "pendulum" concept he speaks of is hilarious. Care to explain the historic swings of this pendulum to me?

    Call me when somebody has a solution that will work. Since you'll never be calling me, I'll just continue to deal with the current state of things.

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      Wow this guy uses some pretty strong rhetoric for not having to explain how this is ever going to be fixed.

      I wish I had mod points for you, sir. I did not like TFA at all and was not nearly as impressed by author as he was with himself. (I'm so glad he approves of Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest; I am sure their boards of directors are breathing a sigh of relief! Or not.)

    • by tiberus (258517) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:27PM (#42287771)

      For better or for worse, these are very important things in a Capitalistic society.

      I've often heard of Capitalism but, I don't believe I see it very often. The result of a Capitalistic Society that practices Capitalism would be Open and Free Markets, right? The markets in the U.S., IMHO, run much more like a Plutocracy than an sense of the word Open. Companies like Walmart, the local market, decide who can and can not come to the market, how and how much they can come to the market, set prices for products they don't produce, etc.. Microsoft has forced Dell to change how they sell PCs and laptops. Groups of companies have frequently colluded to control the markets in terms of price and availability or their products.

      If Capitalism produces Free Markets and we don't have Free Markets . . .

      • > The result of a Capitalistic Society that practices Capitalism would be Open and Free Markets, right?

        Wrong. Left to themselves, these tend to degenerate into monopolies as the incumbents use their profits to keep competitors out. Open and free markets must be maintained by forces outside of the market mechanism, such as regulations.

        Capitalism doesn't produce free markets, it requires them (most definitions of it do anyway), so wrong causality direction.
        • by swillden (191260)

          Wrong. Left to themselves, these tend to degenerate into monopolies as the incumbents use their profits to keep competitors out.

          Care to substantiate that claim? Virtually any economist you care to ask will deny it, on the rather reasonable grounds that there is no evidence of any such thing actually happening except in isolated cases, and for very short periods of time. It's not that it never happens, but your claim is that it is the normal tendency, inevitable unless government regulation steps in to prevent it.

          The only successful, long-lived monopolies in history have been created and/or maintained by government regulation.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Capitalism is for those with capital. If you think everything revolves around money, I pity you.

  • From what I see, though, one of the big issues is that when you get to be the size of Facebook or Twitter, it HAS to be about making money. Who is going to pay for your servers and who is going to pay your employees who work on the site full-time? Once you hit critical mass, in order not collapse under your own weight, you need to protect your monetary interests and that means closing off access to competing services.

    Now, in the past, this wasn't as much of an issue because people actually paid for things a

    • by alen (225700) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:43AM (#42286569)

      nobody paid for things in the past. the internet was even more free than today. the NY times website was free for years. i remember the sales wars of the late 1990s when dot com stores were "selling" DVD's for a few $$$. not old crap, but new releases that cost $30 at retail stores

      the money came from stupid VC's and investors flushing tens of millions of $$$ down the dot com toilet or mega corps willing to lose money on the web until they could monetize it

      radio was the first to work out a free business model
      TV copied it and even added a pay TV model that a lot of people liked for a decade or two
      and now the internet is trying to work out its own version of the pay TV model

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And radio's "free business model" is exactly why I don't use it, even when I forgot my iPod and don't have CDs with me. Honestly, an occasional song between five minutes of advertising and station plugs with the same music anyway between the half-dozen clear and "decent" stations? Not to mention the know-nothing DJs that want to constantly remind me of their Y-grade celebrity status?

        I'll listen to the music of my engine, thank you very much.

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:21PM (#42288419) Homepage Journal

        TV copied it and even added a pay TV model that a lot of people liked for a decade or two
        and now the internet is trying to work out its own version of the pay TV model

        Yes, except they're trying to emulate the crappy pay TV now instead of what it was when young. I first got cable in 1980. The only commercials were on the OTA stations, the movies weren't censored, the Discover Channel actually had science instead of "trick my truck" and the History channel had history instead of "ice road truckers". Now? Commercials on the pay stations, and not just commercials during breaks but while the actual content is playing. Rather than a dozen channels you get hundreds, few of them you would ever care to watch and most redundant is many cases -- there are so many sprts channels ESPN is showing pool and poker as "sports" and it costs an arm and a leg.

        TV got frog boiled. Unfortunately, the web just followed pay TV. And to paywalled sites I say the same as I say to pay TV: Fuck 'em. You want me to pay? Get rid of the goddamn commercials, have a decent product and charge a reasonable price. They're doing none of these nowadays, either on TV or the web. Fuck 'em, I refuse to play or pay.

  • Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:38AM (#42286523)

    we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world.

    No we haven't. They're just no longer in the majority. It's like religions: In the United States, for example, everyone's on about how the 0.5% of atheists that exist here are oppressing the christians' (who make up 76%) right to celebrate their christmas holiday. Please -- I'm just using this as an example, no flames! But elsewhere in the world, it's dominated by muslims, or jews, or hindus, or whatever. And within each of those communities, those values are the dominant ones.

    The web was originally created by academics, scientists, engineers, and people from these fields are collaborative. They're peers, and they broker in knowledge sharing and exchange. It's very different than the hierarchy that most of society is based on. Now that "most of society" has moved onto the web, they've taken their values with them. The web is simply a communications medium; It does not have a morality.

    That said... I miss the old days too.

    • by gagol (583737)

      As with anything, the more popular and widely used, the more clueless the average user is. It is an opportunity for the "elders" to educate new users and it seems to work good.

      Slashdot is a good example, I can remember how it was 15 years ago, how insightful most comments was and how trolls were less prominent (or is it my memory playing the good-old-days trick on me? probably). Too bad I did not register until years later, I would have an awesome 4 digit UID! Another example is abovetopsecret.com, in the

      • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:09AM (#42286841)

        Kudos for your religion analogy, very well worded.

        Well, the moderators are frothing at the mouth over some of my "devil's advocate" posts lately. Like pointing out the United States isn't all sunshine and unicorns in an earlier thread today... it's been from -1, Troll to +5 insightful a half dozen times already. It really has nothing to do with the strength of my argument, but the fact that the moderators on slashdot these days have a lower tolerance for cognitive dissonance because fewer and fewer of them are highly educated and experienced within the fields Slashdot used to cater to -- science, technology, and engineering. Now it's become a cesspool of fanboys who may have enthusiasm for those things but not enough experience with it to recognize their own limitations, or that there is more than one right answer (or sometimes no right answers, which is a terrible thing for a young geek to learn).

        As you can see now, it's currently, "+2, offtopic", in spite of the fact that the whole premise of my post is explaining how we lost the web the author is reminiscing about! And they probably marked me down because I used an example that was politically charged. I chose that example precisely because it illustrates why the web has changed: The general population is full of prejudice and intolerance. Slashdot used to be exempt from that, but like I said -- as the less-experienced and knowledgable have flooded the forums, it has seen an influx of those values as evidenced by both the comments and the moderation.

        Since the buyout, Slashdot has gained more mainstream attention (thanks, Dice, for spending all that money on choice SEO placement...) as an aggregate news site, but it's lost its original values -- those insighful and in-depth, and often humorous, posts that you and I remember and love. And don't let my high UID fool you... I had a 4 digit once. Then a troll hacked my account. :)

        • by gagol (583737)
          What Slashdot needs is to ask 10 engineering/scientific questions to prove the user is an engineer! Kind of like Larry Leisure Suit VGA asked questions an underage was not likely to know before you could play!
        • by Pope (17780)

          I chose that example precisely because it illustrates why the web has changed: The general population is full of prejudice and intolerance. Slashdot used to be exempt from that, but like I said -- as the less-experienced and knowledgable have flooded the forums, it has seen an influx of those values as evidenced by both the comments and the moderation.

          LOL, what? 'twas ever thus. Slashdot was never exempt from prejudice and intolerance. You're really looking at this place through a haze of nostalgia.

        • You must acknowledge the fact that if you were around for Web 1.0 and can remember those days that you are, like me, one of the old fogeys of the web. I've been online since '93 and I don't have a FB account, yet I have friends and relatives that think I'm some kind of noob because they can't find me on FB! Too funny.

          There is a definite "generation gap" between we who remember "the good old days" of the web and those who were incubated in the SOSHAL web 2.0 groupthink.
          • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Informative)

            by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:16PM (#42288357)

            My friends figured out I might know a few things when they said how they wished they could get all their DVDs on their computer without having to put them in one by one and rip them... and I told them to bring over all their DVDs (literally, about a thousand of them) in about a week. A week later, they showed up, and said "How long's this gonna take", and I looked at them and said "About a day." Then I led them around the corner to the robot I'd build that would autoload several drives and rip them.

            They said pretty much the same thing; "B-b-but you don't even have a Facebook!" I simply let the silence fill the air, before replying sagely, "And who do you think did all the work to create the network that Facebook runs on?"

    • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lightknight (213164) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:03AM (#42286771) Homepage

      Indeed. The web has become something of a sewer. It's no longer about getting you the right information on demand, or you offering up the right information on demand. It's about a bunch of people in a dark room, wearing dark clothes, trying to talk to each other with duct tape over their mouths, while the latest pop video blasts loudly from somewhere outside. It has become almost impossible to find even relevant information, which is why people are breaking out into VPNs; they are throwing up dams to keep the misinformation at bay.

      See, there were questionable things on the web many moons ago. There still are. However, the good things about the web greatly outweighed the bad. Just by browsing around on it, you became a better person. You were more knowledgeable, you understood that power is often invisible, and while there were trolls, they were dealt with quickly. That's not the case today: the web is now filled with white noise, misinformation, and criminal stupidity. Yes, I said criminal stupidity. It's not that they are holding unpopular opinions, or that they can't spell a word if they have a dictionary in hand, it's just pure idiocy. And it's contagious.

      The morons outnumber us, and they would, if given the option, call for further regulation of the web to 'fix' things if they had a chance. And that's where we are failing -> we're too nice, and we are being taken advantage of. You want an open and free web divorced of this stupidity, and while you are trying to convince people of this merit, they are positioning things for a takeover. You come with good intentions and an open hand, they see a delusional person who is unarmed. And contrary to popular belief, the unarmed man is the first person an attacker goes after; why not, he doesn't have a weapon?

      Which leads us to the present. Not content with having thrown the creators of the sandbox out of their own invention, the bullies now want to destroy it. To taught their 'alpha male' (actually super beta) -ness, they will destroy it, so no one else can enjoy it. Even now, they are calling for a cyberwar. This entire enterprise is beyond f*cked up, and frankly, it's killing our respective way of life; scientists and engineers can't discuss important information without being accosted, because they "know things," and could use their knowledge for evil. This is anti-freedom of speech, and frankly anti-American. The United States is a slut, and will go down on anyone for the right money; gone are the days when her principles meant anything, she sold them for a pair of pumps and a glittery purse.

      • The web always was a sewer... The difference now is that it is a corporatized, guided, walled-in, groupthink sewer as opposed to the chaotic sewer it used to be.
      • Yes, because groups like alt.images.tasteless back in the 80s and 90s represented the heyday of information sharing correct? All rise for Judge Mental. It's all zeros and ones.

  • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:48AM (#42286621)
    TFA (or blog post in this case) talks about how much better the web used to be, then uses purple-colored links everywhere, tricking me into thinking I've already clicked those links.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:50AM (#42286633)

    I'm presuming many people for a long time including the author wanted to build a giant network just like Facebook BUT with all the options for "openness" and free choices between complete and zero interconnectivity between all sites you are a member of.

    Now that Facebook has built one without these options the desire is to change it to that model.

    What if the lack of those options was the thing that allowed Facebook to succeed in the first place?

    Include them in the design in a quick and dirty way - makes it user unfriendly and clunky, with less chance of takeup.

    Include them in the design in a way that is elegant - would take a lot of resources, making it far less likely for a single person to drive it.

    Include them in the design with the help of a great number of collaborators - yep, because open source software and collaborative models always work outstanding in terms of making products that attract the largest user base.

    It may not be that Zuckerberg has "robbed" the web of something, but rather that he succeeded in the only way the web allowed him to succeed given the scope.

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:51AM (#42286641)

    Biggest example:
    In the early says of the blogosphere lots of people did not have the tech-savvy necessary to start their own blogs. You needed to be able to buy your own domain-name, get a hosting service, install special blogging software, etc. Even if you had the expertise, remembering to maintain such a blog was not fool-proof. My first blog (detroitskeptic.com) currently points to a cyber-squatter because I forgot to tell the domain registrar when my email address changed, and my credit info expired.

    Technorati was great, open, and non-corrupt; but it was only those three things to the small fraction of the human race that could actually do that stuff, but even in America that was under 10% of the population. Popular blogging platforms today (like Google's Wordpress) are fully in the control of a profit-seeking behemoth; but they also allow anyone who can master MS Word to have a blog.

    Granted he admits these sites are great, he just wants them to focus on working together more. But he's missing a simple fact: the reason Facebook can afford to create a great site is they have revenue. They have revenue because they strategically screw anyone who finds a profitable niche in the Facebook-universe.

    • by godefroi (52421)

      Biggest example:
      In the early says of the blogosphere lots of people did not have the tech-savvy necessary to start their own blogs.

      Even more biggest example:
      In the early days of the blogosphere we hadn't yet made up asinine words like "blog" and "blogosphere".

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Friday December 14, 2012 @10:51AM (#42286649)

    I've learned to asemble and repair things watching youtube videos. My children's schools use the Khan website for homework and practice tests. I run my domain servers on BSD that is created and distributed via the web; and my desktops and laptops run Linux Mint. The web is enabling great things even with all the nonsense and drivel out there.

  • Please don't mourn the loss of poorly-animated American flag GIFs on pastel blue backgrounds adorned with horrible ClipArt.

    Please also don't wish back into existence webrings or link exchanges.

    You can long for another GeoCities if you really, really want, but why? Does it mean that much to you to have a few extra million shitty web pages out there with orange "Under Construction" banners and 200 pictures of someone's favorite anime character? Besides, nowadays you can't even twirl a lolcat by its ta
    • I'm surprised I had to read this far down before I saw someone complain about animated gifs...
    • I always wondered what people were talking or complaining about. I suppose I used lynx for far too long.

      (Or not long enough I suppose)

  • Only feeding them targeted advertising is.
  • Or, it's better. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:02AM (#42286767) Journal

    I don't use facebook (near dormant account) and I have no twitter account.

    On the other hand, I have a github account. It, or bitbucket or any random hosting service with post hooks would suffice. That's the point, any one would work.

    Then I have a post hook which sends a POST to a specific URL.

    The URL happens to be to drone.io which is completely unrelated to github. It at the request of github, drone.io then goes and downloads the repository and builds it. It then sends an email relating success or failure.

    The email goes to a mailing list hosted by a completely different organisation. That eventually sends the email to my address at yet another place which through the magic of MX winds up in my browser via my gmail account.

    This was trivial to set up and involves something like 6 different organisations that I can see (probably more like 20 when you include all the services those guys use) who have absoloutely no connection to one another. Yet, when someone commits a change, I get an automatic report as to whether they broke the build.

    Screw facebook at al. I really don't care whether I can post instagram mangled pictures on twitter.

    It would have taken a week 5 years ago to to that. Today it takes 5 minutes, from scratch.

    The level of integration present on utterly disparate services is fantastic and way better than it used to be.

    The present is awesome. The author just eeds to look outside.

  • All of that web stuff is still available. What we really have lost is a lot of the feature set that existed pre-web. Things like killfiles and distributed discussions from NNTP have no ready equivalent today.
  • by Chelloveck (14643) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:08AM (#42286829) Homepage

    "A decade ago, there weren't many choices. Everyone I knew all used the same services and it was easy to find stuff. Now all the people I know use all sorts of different services and I can't find anything! We've lost the small, intimate web community we used to have!"

    Yeah, yeah. Every few years someone with a blog goes through a mid-life crisis and realizes the world isn't the way it used to be. BFD, so the world changes. Get over it. Abe Simpson summed it up best...

    "I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you... "

    • by abelb (1365345)
      So you'd be saying the same thing if the Internet were censored by government? Or if any company could sue you for a blog post criticizing their products? Freedom doesn't just need protection, it needs to be built in to systems from the ground up. HTTP is open so anyone can have a web server, SMTP is open so anyone can have a mail server, social networking? Facebook.
  • by bmo (77928) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:09AM (#42286845)

    This isn't some standard polemic about "those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!"

    Yes it is. It's a long winded whine about how core principles have been lost, which they haven't.

    I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites

    But you point at them and say what huge amount of harm they've done.

    But they're based on a few assumptions that aren't necessarily correct.

    Oh really, let's examine them then.

    The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth.

    The primary fallacy of this article is that ordinary people want the complexity and extensibility, that every user wants to twiddle with RSS and build web pages from scratch. The vast majority of the internet using public don't. They want someone else to take care of the minutia. It's been that way since the days of the BBS. The BBS culture had users and sysops and wasn't pure peer to peer "read-write" because not everyone could be arsed to set up his own BBS and pay for a phone line or even bother something so simple as an ANSI menu layout screen. It's still this way. The vast majority of users just want to post their pictures, send mail, pirate media, write their blawgs and to leave the icky technical stuff to people more competent.

    And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.'

    And users can vote with their feet and migrate elsewhere. This article is written like the users have nowhere to go and the big services are some sort of social prison that nobody can escape. People are perfectly free to set up their own servers and whatnot. We've seen an explosion of cheap hosting like never before. But most people don't want to do that. The number of people I know, personally, that can write a simple HTML 1.0 web page from scratch, even with commercial tools, I can count on one hand. This is not the fault of the likes of Facebook or whoever. This is the because of the fact that even 20 years after the invention of the www, it's still complex with concepts that are nearly impossible for most people to wrap their heads around. And thus we wind up with services that are more than willing to do it for them.

    The author is bemoaning the loss of the peer-to-peer read-write-web which never existed in the first place.

    There are the technorati and there is everyone else, and the technorati run things. This is entirely by consent. There was no wresting control from users who wanted to do their own things. If there was any freedom lost (there hasn't been) it's because it was given up, not taken.

    --
    BMO

  • FB is MySpace mk 2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:11AM (#42286871)

    I set up a Facebook 'like' button on my wifes website and we had more likes than visitors, so I know the FB likes are faked. I then read a BBC article about how they advertised a fake company and got thousands of likes, but from Egypt and Phillipines... for a company that didn't do anything and didn't exist.

    Then I read this:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19832043

    (it says FB has admitted they rig the 'like' system to increment it anytime it sees a link to a site exchanged, or on lots of other occassions).

    So IMHO, I think the popularity of Facebook is overblown by artificial bots and the fake games FB does to rig it. I think that's more about duping advertisers and investors than actual popularity. To make you think its more popular than it actually is.

    The web is still there, it will still be there after Facebook, just as it was there after MySpace.

    • Facebook will die and it will be a quick death, just like MySpace. It will rise again like MySpace did. Remember when you used to use talk (or ytalk even), QuantumLink, AOL, Compuserve, (insert company) Messenger... Facebook is looking at its future in seeing how fickle consumers are.

  • by timholman (71886) on Friday December 14, 2012 @11:27AM (#42287051)

    But we're going to face a big challenge with re-educating a billion people about what the web means, akin to the years we spent as everyone moved off of AOL a decade ago, teaching them that there was so much more to the experience of the Internet than what they know.

    Anil Dash seems to remember things a bit differently than I do. We didn't "re-educate" the AOL users. Instead, those users turned the rest of the web into the trash pile so much of it is today.

    The Twitter and Facebook fanatics of today (who know and care nothing about the way the web really works) are exactly the same people who would have been obsessively dialing into AOL twenty years ago. Nothing has changed with that demographic, and the idea that we are somehow going to "re-educate" them is laughably naive.

    Today, we are still suffering from the consequences of the misguided belief that the average user could be "educated" to properly operate and maintain a general-purpose computer. The result? Huge botnets, DDoS attacks, and exploits at every turn. Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs had it exactly right - build a walled garden to keep those users from doing any more damage to themselves or to the rest of the net.

    The "old web" is still out there. No one has taken it away from us. And if the teeming millions have no knowledge or appreciation of it, so what? As long as walled gardens keep them from ruining it for the rest of us, I fail to see the downside.

  • This is essentially a vast wasteland [wikipedia.org] repeat, updated for the 21st century.

  • by Push Latency (930039) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:16PM (#42287625)

    And anyone who agrees with this post is most likely not posting content to the internet with the same zeal to connect and share as they once had. I'm surprising myself by actually posting.

    For me, the problem is that where most content on the Web was out on public pages, it now hides behind a Facebook etc. login screen. I don't use that service, so when I hit that login screen, I close the tab. After a while, it leaves you with a sick feeling.

    The real problem is not that these older/better internet services aren't around anymore, but that most people don't look at every available option first, and then choose Facebook etc. They have learned that there is only Facebook and then commercial sites for buying/building things. They may as well not exist - so the argument that they are still there is mostly irrelevant.

      As an example, the "young folks" (college/highschool age folks ) that I've convinced to use IRC with me have come around to my understanding, and feel basically the same way I do. But they wouldn't have known it was there, or how to use it. Back in the day, there was an incentive to learn about it. That incentive is gone - so it doesn't really matter if the services still exist or not.

  • In general these cant be search-cataloged or accessed without an account. Vast important sections of the web are hidden this way.
  • Now complain about how much it sucks compared to before it was discovered and marketed for the masses.

  • by Groboclown (1156791) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:33PM (#42287837)
    I can't even find a good Gopher server anymore.
    • Mod up 1000 points. Back in the day I had written a script to harvest data from gopher servers to convert the content to html pages and serve them up. You just made me smile, forgot all about gopher.

    • by cpghost (719344)
      Yep, too sad. At least, most of Gopher has been archived [terasaur.org].
  • no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grenadeh (2734161) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:03PM (#42288197)
    The people hating on the article need to get a clue. He may have worded it incorrectly but what he is saying that because of the internet these corporations have created, it has shifted to a consumer society rather than an internet populated by content-makers who build and run their own websites and host their own content. Further worsening things is SOPA and the other internet-dragon acts that, while not all entirely implemented, serve to do nothing but ruin the internet - people who do create content will be lucky if someone doesn't claim it was stolen, whether SOPA returns and gets passed or the internet stays the same. Google axes multiple blogger sites on a daily basis that are 100% legit and run entirely by their creator, containing original work made by said creator, and they aren't the only offender. People have no less ability to find their own way on the internet than they did in the early days. However, so few people actually do (even among us IT workers) that the mainstream consumer culture of the internet obscures them and so this article is appropriate, to the general masses.
  • Screw the Web... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:27PM (#42292161) Homepage Journal

    ... what about the Internet we lost? We used to have ftp, and gopher, and usenet, and telnet, and finger, and you could send email to webmaster@ or abuse@ or root@ and reach a human, or get things done by emailing majordomo, but nowadays it's all just these crap messaging systems and "click here if you forgot your password" and "type these letters to prove you're a human" and port 80, port 80, port 80. :-|

  • by jbolden (176878) on Friday December 14, 2012 @07:42PM (#42296487) Homepage

    The big change in the web was 1993 when AOL users came on Usenet. Imagine for a moment what the internet would be like if everyone had to use real name accounts tied to workplace email, but all the employers were more or less cool and not paranoid. There was little security and machines tied together with RSH, rlogin... and where the machines didn't tie together you could freely use low security protocols like FTP, Telnet and RSH. There was no spam. No unethical, "man in the middles".

    This article is about minor shifts in data aggregation. The big shifts IMHO were:

    a) anonymity
    b) commerce
    c) the move from text based to image based (i.e. HTTP replacing Gopher and for information)
    d) the death of Usenet and it being replaced with web based forums

    I have no idea if the social media sites creating add on services but making the data harder for APIs is a good or a bad thing. What I can say though is in the scope of things it is not that huge a change.

    IMHO IPv6 and going back to a world where every machine is directly accessible by every machine. That potentially could really create connection like we had 20 years ago.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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