Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Facebook The Internet Google Technology Apple

How the Internet Became a Closed Shop 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the al-gore-didn't-stick-around-to-defend-his-creation dept.
AcidAUS sends this quote from the Sydney Morning Herald: "A little over a decade ago, just before the masses discovered the digital universe, the internet was a borderless new frontier: a terra nullius to be populated by individuals, groups and programmers as they saw fit. There were few rules and no boundaries. Freedom and open standards, sharing information for the greater good was the ethos. Today, the open internet we once knew is fracturing into a series of gated communities or fiefdoms controlled by giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and to a lesser extent Microsoft. A billion-dollar battle conducted in walled cities where companies try to lock our consumption into their vision of the internet. It has left some lamenting the 'web we lost.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How the Internet Became a Closed Shop

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:46PM (#42365613)

    Computer hobbyists in the '80s complained that IBM and Microsoft had taken over "their" world. Car enthusiasts in the '20s probably complained about Ford and GM. When an industry becomes mature there are relatively few market leaders, practically by definition, and those leaders generally don't innovate more than they have to. Why? Network effects is one reason. Economies of scale is another. There's the good ol' monopolistic practices of the robber barons. And a couple gentlemen on Mad. Avenue explained another reason: our brains only have room for two or three entrants [amazon.com] for most market categories that we don't happen to be fanatical or professionally involved with.

    As Scott McNealy would have said, "Get over it."

  • Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:00PM (#42365733)

    For all the whining, the Internet is really more open these days than ever. If nothing else, there's a lot more world-wide participation. For a good part of the Internet's history, it was nearly all in the US with only token amounts outside. Now it really is a world-wide network.

    Also some of the companies mentioned really aren't doing much in the way of any sort of lock-in. Yes Amazon has about 1% of the Internet in its data centers, which is pretty impressive, but it is just hosting. You buy the virtual servers to do as you please (within the ToS of course). You can even compete with Amazon using Amazon. Netflix hosts a lot of their videos on Amazon EC2.

    The Internet may not be the anarchist-geek dreamworld, but it is more open than anything else I can think of in human history, and more open than it was in the past.

  • Re:LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bjwest (14070) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:15PM (#42365843)

    Prior to Facebook, etc. there was AOL and Compuserve which had their own "walled gardens" and gated versions of the Internet.

    Believe it or not, there was internet prior to AOL and Compuserve, and I don't recall Compuserver offering internet connectivity. AOL wasn't an ISP as we think of them today. They, like Compuserve, were nothing more than a massive bulletin board community which just happened to offer a portal to the internet in their latter years. It started off with Usenet access, and I do remember the shitstorm when AOL opened those floodgates. What a sad time that was. That, IMHO, is where the old, free internet started to die. As soon as the masses started flowing in, the corporations followed and started herding them into fenced in pastures ready to start plucking money out of their pockets.

  • What a maroon... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sirwired (27582) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:25PM (#42365915)

    Yeah, there totally isn't any way to do anything on the internet without Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.

    Except for:
    - Discussion forums, which exist for pretty much every single interest group imaginable
    - Places to post images
    - A whole spectrum of places to buy stuff, most of which AREN'T Amazon
    - Millions of blogs about every conceivable topic and viewpoint
    - Websites by companies providing information about what they sell
    - A way to interact with the government
    - Online banking
    - Research
    - A whole lot of stuff neither I, nor anybody else, has even thought up yet

    And you can do all of those things without touching a single service or product sold by one of the big giants.

    In conclusion... what on earth is he talking about?

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:40PM (#42366033) Homepage

    Also some of the companies mentioned really aren't doing much in the way of any sort of lock-in. Yes Amazon has about 1% of the Internet in its data centers, which is pretty impressive, but it is just hosting. You buy the virtual servers to do as you please (within the ToS of course).

    And I'm sure most "data centers" of the early Internet would love to have the 60/60 Mbit line that I have at home on a plain residential fiber connection, somewhat faster than a T3/DS3. Who needs the data center? You are the data center. Latest stats from Norway now is that the average broadband is 14.8 Mbit/s and the mean 7.9 Mbit/s, graph here [www.ssb.no] as solid green and solid blue line respectively (the others are for business use). Honestly at the rate this is going bandwidth will almost cease to be a limited commodity, it's like asking when the water company will run out of water or the electricity company out of electricity.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:47PM (#42366077) Homepage Journal
    The Network Effect is often praised because value increases for each user the more users are connected to a platform, but the problem is that it shifts rewards from being good to being merely big. This is the origin of the MS-DOS/M$ tragedy. It is also the origin of the Facebook tragedy. There are many other examples, probably the biggest tragedy of all being the Federal Reserve currency being the international reserve currency. Its bad enough when you have something like the QWERTY (rather than the Dvorak) keyboard creating lock-in to a standard but at least when you have an open standard into which people are locked by the network effect, no one is becoming a Bill Gates or Carlos Slim. Its when the network effect is turned into a business model that the really nasty effects on the society start working their dark magic.

    The solution is to stop taxing economic activity (capital gains, income, sales, value added, etc) and instead tax market-assessed liquid value of assets [blogspot.com].

    Of course, not many people are going to really understand this idea so it must be demonstrated by those who do get it.

    That's why we need Sortocracy [sortocracy.org].

  • Re:What a maroon... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cozziewozzie (344246) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:45PM (#42366399)

    Yeah, there totally isn't any way to do anything on the internet without Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.

    There is! But it's exceedingly hard. I have more than 10 extensions in Firefox active right now, and I still can't totally eliminate them, especially since there is no decent substitute for youtube.

    - Discussion forums, which exist for pretty much every single interest group imaginable

    Most of which have Twitter/Facebook/Google integration, running their APIs and javascript. And thus tracking your every move. They've put their filthy paws on seemingly every single site in the universe.

    There are quite a few discussion forums and online communities which have stopped working for me unless I allow Google (or Googleapis or analytics or somesuch) to execute scripts on my computer. Same goes for Amazon (cloudfront).

    A whole spectrum of places to buy stuff, most of which AREN'T Amazon

    Yes. Until you get to the payment part. Then you need to log into Amazon, Google, or PayPal, in about 90% of the cases.

    - Millions of blogs about every conceivable topic and viewpoint

    One of the biggest is run by Google, the others have Google and Facebook tracking bugs tracking your every move

    - Websites by companies providing information about what they sell

    True, but we've had those all along. And many are moving onto Facebook. Or running their whole business on Google Docs. For sure they are running Google analytics and probably Google ads too.

    - A way to interact with the government

    Including all of your browsing history being handed over whenever asked. Who has your entire browsing history? Google and Facebook. They likely have all your email too.

    - Online banking

    This one is actually quite cool.

    - Research

    You can certainly do research without Microsoft or Google scholar. It's just that you hit the Elsevier and ACM paywalls next.

    While it is true that there is so much more contents out there than there used to be back in the dialup days, the Internet is much more of a product nowadays.

    Have you actually TRIED surfing without using Google or Facebook or Amazon? It takes about 10 different browser extensions to curtail all their vile malware spyware stuff that is leaping at you from every corner of the internet. Install Ghostery and marvel. And when you think that you've covered the cookies and scripts and supercookies and DOM storage and ads and the rest, they fingerprint your browser and then you have to fake that as well.

    Surfing without Google and friends requires daily effort, lots of computer know-how and discipline.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @01:18AM (#42367227)

    "Speaking of the 'lost web'..."

    Except we never lost it. All those "gated communities" and "walled gardens" they talk about require you to opt in!

    If you don't like it, don't opt in.

    Yes, I know, they give you an either / or choice: "Buy an iOS device? Live with our rules." But they have only been able to because people let them. You still have the choice. If you don't like the way they do things, don't participate. Get something else.

  • by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @03:58AM (#42367689)

    People could probably find the same at their local library in the microfiche section.

    Now *that* would have made an interesting "what we lost..." article.

    Libraries here in the UK discarded the microfiche equipment several years ago to make way for New Media services such as DVDs and audio books on CD.

    The only newspaper information they hold are copies of today's papers.

    There is no way I can go to the library and look-up yesterday's news, let alone the 1920s. Any such queries are directed "to the Internet". To where, exactly? Most online newspaper archives are subscription only.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

Working...