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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.'"
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How the Internet Became a Closed Shop

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  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:39PM (#42365547) Homepage
    The Sydney Morning Herald article may have been sparked by Anil Dash's recent Blog Post - The Web We Lost [dashes.com] ... which was discussed on /. last week. [slashdot.org]

    Anil also wrote a followup titled "Rebuilding the Web We Lost" [dashes.com] that may be worth reading.

    Speaking of the "lost web", we no longer see as many offbeat websites like this one ... HO-HO-HO! ;-) [komar.org]
    • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:07PM (#42365793)

      Speaking of the "lost web", we no longer see as many offbeat websites like this one ... HO-HO-HO! ;-) [komar.org]

      My eyes...ze goggles, zey do nothing!!!!

    • Speaking of the "lost web", we no longer see as many offbeat websites

      I dunno, we haven't lost Zombo.Com [zombo.com], there's even a HTML5 Zombo.com [html5zombo.com]

      Goatsects is still around in various forms. What's primarily happened is that hosting your persona stuff has been subsidized by advertising and data aggregation instead of being a bit more private (if you use a proxy registrar contact) and hosting your own servers. That's still possible, but there's less demand for it now.

      I think it's a shame really, because we do need our own publicly/privately accessible servers to stream "our" stuff (music, video, pics, ramblings, etc) to us. With the rise of consumption centric devices I think we might see a rise in both online hosting services for more of your stuff at the cost of more privacy (social graph sites), and home-server and paid hosting solutions for the more privacy conscious. It's kind of silly that Facebook, G+, etc. don't have an API for adding a remote friend -- Where the social site would scrape my private server that implements a public API (RSS anyone?) so that users of their services can get updates from folks outside the service. You can sort of cobble together something with G+ & Google Reader, but it's not nearly as integrated with the social stuff, and RSS has no "bueno" button.

      "The web we lost" Bah, Humbug. What about the Internet we lost? Everything's caught up in the "web", which would be fine if it wasn't an overly complicated inefficient document rendering markup and stateless protocol, that people try to cobble into stateful online applications with a horribly inefficient scripting langauge... It's so bad that we're still waiting for HTML5 to be formalized, it's been over 12 years since HTML4.01 -- About half the age of the damn web. If we were serious about this thing, We'd be making a lower level glyph & vector graphics display system with a more efficient general purpose VM language (for great sandboxing justice) as the primary target. Every damn site is an application now, which means a kludge ridden mess. Simple Primitives, then work your way up, HTML + CSS + Active Code could compile down to lower level primitives such that we could innovate in the higher level stuff, or even scrap it while remaining compatible with old sites. Take a page from the CPU architectures. How many coding languages are there? They don't require a new platform each time. Starting off at the markup level and building such a platform there is kind of silly if you ask me. Java tried to save us, but they became too bloated and interested in Enterprise instead of a lean mean client side system -- Sun dropped the ball w/ Applets instead of splitting them out like they did J2ME stuff. Here we are, same damn web, hacking together features we want that it was never designed to support, then crying like babby who can't frigth back when it's more full of exploits than an AOL Punt tool.

      • Don't forget Khaan. http://khaaan.com/ [khaaan.com] Khaaaaaaaaan!

        • by Skapare (16644)

          Both of these seem lost to me, by failing to even display a page at all on a browser a little more than a year old that supports ratified standards. They haven't even heard of graceful degrade? I sure would not put my stuff there.

          Yeah, I keep this old browser to test sites and see just how useless they are. But 99% of sites still work fine.

      • by rdebath (884132)

        The VM you're describing IS java or silverlight (ie: msjava) or flash.

        The problem always seems to go back to deep linking and scraping. So what if your VM runs wonderfully and displays everything perfectly to the user on a quad core processor with a dual slot GPU. If the search engine can't work out where you should be in a search list you'll never get any visitors. And search engines are dumb, small and dumb, no GPU either. Then if you have only one 'link' to your site, even if the search engine were ab

    • 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 bug1 (96678)

      The Sydney Morning Herald article may have been sparked by Anil Dash's recent Blog Post - The Web We Lost ...

      I believe you are correct, the story states, 'In a post earlier this month, popular tech blogger Anil Dash lamented ''the web we lost''.'

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:39PM (#42365553)

    I miss you Geocities!

    • Google free web hosting and take your pick.

    • Re:The web we lost (Score:5, Insightful)

      by deimtee (762122) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:28PM (#42366833) Journal
      You may laugh about the crappy eye-hurting design, but when we lost geocities and similar amateur websites we lost a lot of information that isn't on the web anywhere else.
      Manufactures and tech websites can give you the specs on things, but Joe Blow in his garage pulling apart a blender and posting the pics would (accidently sometimes) show how to open it without breaking the internal clips.
      There was a lot of information on damn near anything if you knew how to search for it. Now everything is a bland advertisement or a repost of the same list of data over and over. SEO just about finished it off.
      • I find that discussion boards have mostly filled that void, at least for me. There's a discussion forum out there for virtually every interest these days, where people post and share stuff.

        • by deimtee (762122)
          Yeah, they mostly filled it. But it got a lot harder to find, and is much more focussed on the in crowd at that site.
          The other thing is the enthusiasm of the amatuers is gone. It was a once off thing - people were introduced to the internet and it was this wonderful new landscape that was mostly empty, and they went looking for things to fill it. Yeah a lot of it was crap, but it was every type of crap in the world.
          Now, it's all targeted at higher rankings and google ad revenue. The internet has gone
  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:45PM (#42365611)

    Freedom and open standards, sharing information for the greater good was the ethos.

    No it wasn't. This is someone inventing a nostalgic version of the Internet that didn't exist. Prior to Facebook, etc. there was AOL and Compuserve which had their own "walled gardens" and gated versions of the Internet. Throughout the 90s it was a fight of both Netscape and Microsoft pushing proprietary HTML elements and the "Best viewed in Netscape" or "Best viewed in IE" nonsense.

    • 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:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:30PM (#42365957)

        It's the same argument as the FSF's indictment of software as a service [gnu.org]. And frankly, they're right.

        Software delivered "as a service" is much, much more closed than even closed source software. Closed source software can be pirated, reverse engineered, decompiled, run on machines sufficiently isolated that they can't call home, ... you have none of those options with software as a service. You cannot prevent those companies spying on you by any means at all.

        So yes, the facebook/dropbox/office 360/google world is worse than the closed-source microsoft monopoly.

        • Bitch and moan about it. However there is a problem and right now these closed systems are the only model that seems to work.
          It takes a lot of man power to keep an advance service up and running and updated. if you follow RMS and the GNU philosophy you find that you have removed many means of monetizing your services you wish to perform. Without this money you will need to hope you have enough volunteers to keep your site running, and if it gets more popular the cost of running the infrastructure begins

        • Rarely I disagree with the FSF, but I do in their "indictment" of SaaS. More software is better, so long as you can store your data in a way that allows portability and the ability to get rid of bad or strangling SaaS providers. Getting invested into an SaaS provider can be money/time down a rabbit hole. But if the data formats are readable by competitors-- and this is becoming commonplace-- then quality rather than proprietary time sucks makes it all worth the endeavor.

      • 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.

        • 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,

          What does their policy say about activities like running servers? is there a "fair use policy"*?

          Who needs the data center?

          Those who want proper static IPs with advance warning and parelell running periods if they do have to be changed, high reliability (afaict "broadband" is at the bottom of the the repair priority list for telcos), more bandwidth (especially upstream bandwidth) than they can affordably get at their own premises.

          Latest stats from Norway now is that the average broadband is 14.8 Mbit/s and the mean 7.9 Mbit/s

          Are those upload speeds or download speeds? (i'd guess download speeds).

          • if you want a "proper static ip" at home there is always IPv6 they be a pain in the ass to remember a large number of them but since you only use a few internet facing IP's generally anyway it should not be hard, just use IPv4 on you internal network and you have the best of both worlds. For business users that need static IP's the cost won't be all that significant as you are already paying for a business connection.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            What does their policy say about activities like running servers? is there a "fair use policy"*?

            A little late but here are your answers, there's no prohibition on running servers as long as they are for residential use. That is to say both private and public servers, but not commercial use. As for "fair use" policy the closest is this (my translation):
            "4.1 There is a goal that the Customer shall at all times provide the product specified speed between the Client PC and the Provider's connection to Internet. Since a part of capacity used for the necessary control information, the effective speed can be

    • Re: LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eladts (1712916) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:01PM (#42365755)
      Everything was better in the past, especially the nostalgia.
    • by memnock (466995)

      The transition from a network created by scientists and populated by nerds for geeky entertainment to a coveted network for commercialization and popular entertainment should probably have come as a surprise to no one.

      Or maybe it should have? Any useful technology seems to eventually be coopted for expanded uses not foreseen by the creators or early adopters.

    • 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.

      • by Abreu (173023)

        So, the internet was cool before it became popular, Hipster Ariel?

      • It started off with Usenet access, and I do remember the shitstorm when AOL opened those floodgates. What a sad time that was.

        What, you didn't like millions of people letting you know, "I'M HERE!!!"

        You seem to be forgetting the up side. Setting up filters so you didn't see posts from anyone who was on AOL. That usually was one hell of an easy way to better your SNR.

    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Punto (100573) <puntob@NospAM.gmail.com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:21PM (#42366549) Homepage

      Yeah but the thing is that back then, the users of AOL and Compuserve didn't really matter, they didn't drive any money or opinion or attention from anyone, nobody cared about them. Nowadays, whatever a million idiots do on Facebook or Twittwer decides how millions of dollars are spent by companies and other idiot investors. It's super annoying.

  • 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."

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Similarly, dynamite was only used for mining and construction, until those nasty warlords got hold of it and made those bombs (such that Nobel's [wikipedia.org] reputation was tarnished in a span of only 20 years). If the Internet ever existed in a truly open and free sense, it was only in the earliest stages before silly things like "commercial application" were considered. That's one of the downsides to a system everyone can use - that "everyone" must include people who will do things you don't like.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Car enthusiasts in the '20s probably complained about Ford and GM

      Actually a really good point. I've got some opinion articles from the early 1900's and 1920's from automotive hobbyists about Ford and GM buying up other auto companies like Buick and Lincoln. People could probably find the same at their local library in the microfiche section.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Computer hobbyists in the '80s complained that IBM and Microsoft had taken over "their" world.

      True, they were roughly 30 years early. If anyone will take over "our" world it will be Apple, as they drive closed, DRM-centric platforms into the hands of millions and marginalize platforms that aren't owned by them.

  • yeah yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:47PM (#42365631)
    Times change. You can never go home. Things were always better in the past. I can remember when all of this was farmland. Now get off my lawn.
  • I was there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:50PM (#42365657)

    I lived through the open web, even before that, in the days of dial-up BBS services. And you know what? It sucked compared to the web we have today. Aside from speed issues, which our irrelevant in this conversation, the quality, variety, and value of available content was crap compared today. These walled gardens have motivated and allowed all sorts of great content, inventions, and application.

    Furthermore, the open web hasn't gone away. Its still there and there are several other 'communities' that are essentially open webs unto themselves. We just don't think about them or use them much (for some) because there are better things to do online (e.g. cat photos and stumbleupon).

    Drop the nostalgic nonsense.

    • Re:I was there (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:30PM (#42366335) Homepage Journal
      About 15 years ago what most consider 'The Internet' was on it way to being closed because MS was on it's way to control it, not to mention Flash. Because of Google and Apple and others, 'The Internet' has grown up with open standards. I can share a host for not much money, buy a domain for a fraction of what it costs 15 years ago, and run sophisticated content without paying license fees to anyone. This to me is pretty incredible, open, and allows a great deal of freedom. Yes, a few devices that are hooked to a few pieces of 'The Internet' are restrictive in what they can do, and a few services are charging fees, but just look at what it was like when all we had was dailup and services like Dialog.

      Sure, I can pine for the days when my computer ran as a open case and I could solder custom interfaces or fix my floppy disk drive. But I couldn't run up a site that did real work in less than a month.

      • Because of Apple what, you mean Apache? Google wasn't even a platform until recently, and was newborn 15 years ago.

    • These walled gardens have motivated and allowed all sorts of great content, inventions, and application.

      LOLWUT? Name it. Unless you mean Twitter Fucking Bootstrap :/

    • by Wildclaw (15718)

      1. Usenet with clients that allowed people to manage huge amounts of messages via ignoring and filtering
      2. Forums such as Slashdot where you could no longer ignore/filter.
      3. Linear forums where you could no longer have threads inside threads
      4. Facebook/Youtube where you got further limitations on comments.
      5. Twitter where the message length was down to under 200 characters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:52PM (#42365671)

    Maybe they should change the site to
    slashandparrydot
    ye Olde Slashdoth
    Walled Home and Garden
    Internostalgia
    Get Thee Oft My Lawn

    Its been almost 12 hours since the latest Windows 8 sucks submission.

    Captcha: Terrors

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Its been almost 12 hours since the latest Windows 8 sucks submission.

      But my God, it sucks.

  • The author of the article looks too young to be acting like such a grumpy old man.
  • Bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Friday December 21, 2012 @07:59PM (#42365719)

    Ok, can we just stop paying attention to traditional media until it all dies? I don't think I've read an article in the last year that wasn't trying to provoke outrage, fear or hatred through selective reporting, manipulation of data, and gross simplification.

    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.

    What, so now it's impossible to start your own website? To run your own services? That's news to me. Just because there are now large, popular sites doesn't mean small, unpopular sites are now non-existent. The internet that we had 30 years ago is still there, it's just nobody uses it. But it's not like, say, the presence of Facebook means IIRC has suddenly been uninvented.

    • by Namors (934315)

      But it's not like, say, the presence of Facebook means IIRC has suddenly been uninvented.

      If I recall correctly, IIRC stands for If I Recall Correctly, I think you wanted IRC, IIRC IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. ;)

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:01PM (#42365751) Homepage Journal

    The only thing that's changed is that hot internet startups tend to get bought up pretty quickly and rolled into whichever walled garden their new Mega-Sized Overlord happens to own.

    If it were a walled grden, you'd have to "pay to play" just to have the opportunity to launch your online startup -- e.g: the iTunes App Store.
    Today we see Instagram making a Billion off a couple weeks of effort for an app that would have netted hardly enough to pay the developers rent back in 2000.

    Times are actually pretty good and in fact easier for small startups to realize a handsome profit.

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:13PM (#42365823) Homepage
    The "web we lost" is all still there, more or less, in that nothing about the underlying technology of the web has changed. But no-one is interested in the old ways of doing things, and 'modern' services like Facebook are what people obviously want. In other words, like government, we get the web we deserve.
    • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:30PM (#42365961) Homepage Journal

      'modern' services like Facebook are what people obviously want

      You mistake being inert and having no opinion either way with wanting something. People want the functionality, and people like fast servers. But they don't want the whole facebook ickyness at all. Unless by "people" you mean peeps like Zuckerberg haha, then you'd be right... just like Microsoft wants a Windows PC in every home, Facebook wants to be the thing you check first and last thing in the day. But people just wanna have fun and share photos or whatever. They do not *want* to ride the dicks of these goofballs, they simply don't know better.

    • (Grumpy)

      Once again we get an article on how the Web has changed. They list 5 companies in the summary... and Facebook gets the Graphic on the article?!

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:23PM (#42365897)

    ... the internet sucked back then. Websites and web interfaces were crappy, and while many modern websites are bloated and have usability issues there has been a huge improvement.

    Also the emergence of easy to use blogging software has been probably one of the most important developments on the internet IMHO. The problem with nostalgic views of the internet is that the internet 'back then' was highly fragmented and often disorganized. Often times sites would have broken links or not be updated properly because the sites owner was not technically literate or committed any time to his or her site because of barriers to entry (tweaking web pages in html manually, or using cumbersome html software).

    While the internet has "narrowed". I think what people really morn is the stupid masses getting online. This is really about "I wish the internet populated by intelligent/nerdy tech minded people and not the stupid hacks and poseurs we find today". To some extent this is true but it has also brought in a lot of smart non-technical people posting interesting stuff online because software/blog-packages/whatever have become easy enough to use without having to know much about computers.

    As much as people might want to morn 4chan and reddit for the stupid people they attract, having such a wide range of people accessing a single site means important issues can be discovered and disseminated quickly because there are more people online.

  • 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?

    • You are so right. The net used to be a mile wide and an inch deep. But there are now some pretty deep places.And a lot of shallow places. It seems to me that a lot of the early promise has been met and exceeded. I do miss SUCK.COM, though. It was good in the beginning. It sort of went corporate and died. Sad. Very very sad.
    • 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 drinkypoo (153816)

        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

        Is that really true? Most of the fora I visit have no such integration. That is mostly on bullshit sites that exist solely to generate ad impressions by aggregating other people's content and saying stupid things about it.

        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.

        Every so often I run into a website which won't operate if you don't permit google's tracking networks. I go somewhere else most times.

  • What exactly is Apple doing evil,again in the internet?
    Hosting their own web site?
    Or do you count an App Store and a Music Store and a Book Store as evil now?
    Apple is the *one company* that is using open standards, does not pollute them, uses open source and gives all additions it does to the open source software back to the community.
    And looking at that braindead article, what exactly is google doing wrong? They also only adhere to open standards ...

    • Apple is the *one company* that is using open standards, does not pollute them, uses open source and gives all additions it does to the open source software back to the community.

      Yes, because their 2013 iDevice range uses MicroUSB, which as we know is required under European law.

  • by Kwyj1b0 (2757125) on Friday December 21, 2012 @08:37PM (#42366017)

    ... is the animated gif pornography and scanned images from magazines ;) Now with their copyright-laws-this and paywall-that... sheesh. Is there nothing big companies won't ruin???
    (Hold on, I want to watch this hot video on Youtube)

    Seriously - there is a lot more content now. Create a dummy account if you don't want to share your information. Don't let yourself get tagged on photos. Give a false name and location. It isn't too hard to access 99% of the content with just a few keystrokes with little risk to privacy.

    Complaining about sharing? What was the equivalent of Wikipedia or Sourceforge? Search algorithms weren't as good then. Even forgetting the social networking stuff - a lot more open and free pages exist today to provide you with information.

  • 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 Dvo
  • There are still plenty of other places you can go.

    Especially if you're one of us ASD "not the club joining type" types.

  • The good old days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JBMcB (73720) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:06PM (#42366191)

    ... of the internet were wonderful if you were a ham radio operator, scientist, programmer, network engineer, fan of roguelike RPGs or Star Trek.

    Other than that there wasn't a huge amount of content out there.

    • by quax (19371)

      In 1996 an acquaintance asked me what the Web was supposed to be good for, and I told him it can give you an answer to pretty much every question. He rather patronizingly ridiculed this notion.

      So I asked him to give me a question to answer via a web search. Thinking that the web was all about science, he thought he was clever by settling on something mundane: The question of what the tallest dog breed was.

      This was before google, I think altavista was the newest search engine at the time. It took less than

      • by JBMcB (73720)

        I'm talking about the 80's and early 90's. Pre-web. When GOPHER was considered novel. When 90% of internet traffic was FTP, NNTP and SMTP, in that order.

        • by quax (19371)

          Ah, the pre web days. Didn't have much exposure to it as I enrolled college in 1990. But I miss archie.

          Just the other day I had to explain to a young engineer that there were Internet protocols pre-dating HTTP.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:48PM (#42366417) Homepage Journal

    Those companies have a big share of responsability on that process, but probably what made walled garden to look like a good idea was mainly spam. You couldnt give access to everyone because some of those everyone would be spambots.

    So there, you may not put in jail them as may not be laws against unsolicited mail, but you can process them for murdering (or at least, badly poisoning) the open internet.

  • by oogoliegoogolie (635356) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:50PM (#42366427)

    ....it was certainly much more fun, innovative, imaginative, and technological advances were made in leaps and bounds back then. The internet is far more useful nowadays, but it's like the magic and excitement is gone. It's become toned-down, it's become a utility,and utilities are boring.

    Remember when:
    -the first time you heard about a new application called RealAudio that would allow you to stream audio from a remote server, even over a dialup connection? No more waiting to download the entire clip. This new streaming thing was frikking amazing!
    -the first time you went to 'The William Shatner sing-along page'?
    -you heard about an audio file format called mp3 that could hold an entire song in in a few MB's instead of a few dozen? 3MB per file vs 20 or 30MB and still have the same quality! That was amazing!
    -WinNuke was the worst thing someone could do to your computer, and you weren't sent to jail for using it. There was no constant threat about getting malware, trojans, or viruses from websites.
    -Doubleclick did not exist? Sites did not collect and retain and sell your browsing habits.
    -the term 'hacker' did not hold any negative connotation?
    -Flash sites were new, amazing, and didn't use 100% of your CPU?
    -chat rooms and web forums were TROLL-FREE? People were actually nice and considerate to each other!
    -one of the first online multiplayer game you played was Descent thru KALI?
    -you could actually get a refund for software?
    -you regularly browsed Rotten.com?

  • by Kenshin (43036)

    "The Web We Lost", which I indeed missed, required effort. You had to build your own presence on the web.

    When the effort was taken away, with the added bonus of being linked directly with your friends, the old ways were unsurprisingly dropped.

    So yes, the hobbyist web went away, as it was bound to. No one should be shocked or surprised by this.

  • SKREEEE SCUUSHHHHHHHHHH....

    And then corporations moved in and fucked things up :(

    My main email address is 16 years old and still going.
    • by bmo (77928)

      >main email address is 16 years old

      My chat account is over 16 years old.

      Users in the chatrooms:
      L2 : bmo - room 1 - "Appeal's bedroom" ---- SO LONELY. A TUMBLEWEED ROLLS THROUGH TOWN.
      Last logout: 18+22:08:40 ago from entropy.tmok.com ----- THAT'S RIGHT, I CHECKED IN ALMOST 19 DAYS AGO, AND IT NEVER CHANGES. SO LONELY. THE WIND HOWLS THROUGH THE VACANT CHAT, EVOKING GHOSTS AND CHAT NOIR.
      You have 122 notes in your notebox ! (13 pages) /finger bmo
      Lets see if "bmo" likes your finger: ----- OH YOU BETTER

      • Newbies. My account on mono.org [mono.org] is over 20 years old! Before IP was widespread I used X.25 to connect. It pre-dated a lot of web phenomena and was the first, or nearly first to use forums, diaries, voting, talk/IM ...

        • by bmo (77928)

          Did you have anything on Bitnet?

          I doubt it.

          Newbie indeed.

          --
          BMO

  • For evolving into a monster that actually provides better than average paying jobs for a brand new industry!!!
  • by shentino (1139071)

    A central authority vulnerable to pressure.

    Headquartered in a country where having money is just as good as having muscle.

    Why the fuck am I not surprised?

  • It is what it is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by manwargi (1361031) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @12:06AM (#42366977)

    In the frontier days of the internet there were fewer ads but the quality of the content was a fair bit lower. I'm not even talking about the technology here, I'm talking about eyesore websites where someone wrote a bunch of inane details about themselves and their interests, websites that were indefinitely Under Construction. Back then one could run searches on particular topics and not get back any results, or at least any results of value. Certainly UseNet is looked back upon fondly by this group, but even then there was always some troublemaker that insisted on crossposting something controversial between two conflicted groups (i.e. asking a question and crossposting between an atheist and christian group so that the replies show up on both groups), never mind the more conventional trolls. Anyone looking back on AOL ought to remember that they censored the hell out of your environment there-- you got kicked off for swearing and naughty content was carefully sanitized from their download archives. Before I got on the internet, I remember a friend telling me a number of stories of how he got kicked off different BBSes for swearing and fighting with admins.

    The present internet is a lot more crowded but with it there is a lot more content. More of it is crap, and more of it is precious, because there is a lot more content. It is more commercialized and there are a lot more ads, but it is a lot bigger and more sophisticated. Yes, more sophisticated. The hacker types that use math references for user names are still out there, and alongside them we have specialists and connoisseurs of every kind weighing in on every topic one can possibly think of. Without getting into the downsides and problems still faced, could you have ever imagined something quite as extensive as Wikipedia back then? Let alone all the smaller wikis created for greater detail into countless subjects?

    As long as the internet thrives, it will continue to get just a little more amazing. And a little more awful.

  • I'm as nostalgic as the next guy, but everybody getting the warm fuzzies for the dark ages are conveniently only remembering the good things about them. There were plenty of crappy things that we've moved on from too... You wanna talk walled gardens? How about AOL's version of the Internet anyone? It's great to remember the good ole' days, but let's be thankful for where we are now, regardless of how we got here. Sure _some_ things are worse now, but the vast majority of the online experience is better.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      AOL had a version of the internet?

      Ask most people why they use places like Facebook. The typical answers that don't mention some stupid "feature" are the ones that say "everyone uses Facebook" (no they don't, but some people think enough people do). The reality is the "old internet" just didn't have the dilution of lower IQ mases. When someone was "wrong on the internet" that usually meant there could be some intelligence in the long running debate.

  • by dokebi (624663)

    I knew this would happen when Google bought DejaNews, and turned usenet into "Google Groups".

  • What is "to a lesser extent" about a closed source OS with 92% market share?
  • Amazingly, the *internet* is still the same. ISPs have left almost all IP functionality intact, despite the fact that many people only use Facebook and the web. The thing that has changed is that many new users come and don't care about open/closed. As a user, there is no need to use closed systems.

    The article talks about mobile OSes, but those were even more closed and limited before. I really do wish that there was a phone OS that could do more locally, but that's a bad business model

  • by Tom (822)

    I still run my own site, like I did 10 years ago. People visit it. FB isn't a threat to me any more than GeoCities used to be. And I'd rather have people post their "woke up today" bullshit to FB than to grisly GeoCities or MySpace pages with blink blink colour scream hurt my eyes all over it.

    The Internet just resembles real life - what a surprise. It turns out that WalMart crowds out Mum&Pap shops, but if you have something of your own to offer that can not be easily copied, you still can run a viable

  • I don't personally worry too much about companies like Facebook or Twitter replacing websites. There's nothing stopping me from creating my own website. I can even link to it from Facebook, and link to Facebook from it. There's nothing to stop another company from creating a better Facebook, except in the problem of luring users away from Facebook.

    Nope, that's not the real problem. Let's keep our eyes on the ball, here. The real threat to our freedom are the ISPs and the media companies. The there's

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