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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 eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:44PM (#42287971)

    I never understood why there was such a backlash against Trillian.

    I think it was because, back in The Day(tm), while it technically supported numerous protocols, it didn't do so perfectly... to the receiving end. That is, any non-Trillian user talking to a Trillian user noticed annoying artifacts and glitches in their chats, or other things that made it clear the user was breaking the flow of the "real" chat program.

    A notable example in this respect would be ICQ users; when Trillian was first released, ICQ's method of chat was the "inbox of messages" style, as opposed to the (at the time) fledgling AIM's "two-person chat" style. In other words, ICQ presented one chat message at a time, while AIM presented it as a stream, as most of us would know it now. This meant that, while ICQ users were used to sending longer messages all at once, AIM (and Trillian) users were used to sending chat fragments broken at intervals best defined as "whenever the user felt there was a chance their ADD would threaten the message being fully read", or perhaps "whenever the user's brain filled up, thus requiring the message fragment to be sent IMMEDIATELY before they forgot what they were typing and got confused". This led to ICQ users being bombarded by "Uh-Oh!"s from Trillian users, only to find a series of messages such as "hey i was thinking", "do u wanna", "like", "go to the mall", "and", "i dunno", "see a movie", "tonight", and "?", each one having to be advanced manually because Trillian didn't respect how chat worked on networks other than AIM.

    Toss in a few glitches such as where Trillian "helpfully" converted quotes and apostrophes to SmartQuotes (and thus ruined messages on systems or clients that garbled those characters), points where the client doesn't make any attempt to tell its users if a receiver doesn't support some feature (and the inevitable "hay y did'nt u get my image i sent in taht chat????????" complaints), and a userbase trained by the developers to believe that THEIR client can't possibly be the problem, and you can see where the backlash came from. It was a minor Eternal September, in a way. We were flooded by users who didn't care about the established conventions of specific IM networks in those days, were being assured that they didn't need to know any of it, weren't willing to learn said conventions, and weren't going away, and we knew exactly who to blame: Trillian.

    Granted, in the modern day, they've fixed pretty well all of that (not to mention ICQ's default is now AIM-style), but still, it took many years and a lot of the stigma remains. And I remain using Pidgin.

  • 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?"

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