The web as we know it is in danger! Members of the internet punditcacy, Tim O’Reilly and Chris Messina, sound the alarms! Anil Dash pipes in on an ongoing discussion about the ever-changing internet and technologies arguing that we can have an open web, but we’re going to have to fight for it.
Similarly, Doc Searls says the problem with social media is that it’s not under personal control:
Today in the digital world we still have very few personal tools that work only for us, are under personal control, are NEA, and are not provided as a grace of some company or other. (If you can only get it from somebody site, it ain’t personal.) That’s why I bring up email, blogging, podcasting and instant messaging. Yes, there are plenty of impersonal services involved in all of them, but those services don’t own the category. We can swap them out. They are, as the economists say, substitutable.
All this sturm und drang is a bit much. That’s why you won’t find most people complaining.
The death of open platforms, the obsolescence of the URL, the lack of personal control don’t matter one iota to most people today, because the internet is becoming more open for them.
When the web first came into popularity the killer app was AOL, which provided you with a personalized view of the world. We all had information. We could chat with our friends in distant lands. We had naughty pictures on demand. It was waaay better than sliced bread and it was a closed, proprietary system which eventually became obsolete.
Now the killer app is Twitter, which allows you to provide the world with a personalized view of you. Likewise, it’s a proprietary system which will eventually go the way the of the Dodo. But for right now, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are giving the power back to the people. Finally, we have a vox populi. Who gives a shit if it’s more closed than it should be… there are many platforms to choose from and the numbers are growing.
Of course, things could be more open than they are, but we have Brizzly, Tweetie and Seesmic. We have iPhone apps sharing to Facebook. Don’t like Posterous? Use Tumblr. Interoperability comes with time but let’s not worry too much about the internet, it’s finally in the hands of everyone, not just the self-appointed internet guardians. And I’m guessing that’s where some of the angst comes from. Google page rank and RSS feeds and blog aggregators are becoming less important. Readers of this blog are much more likely to find it via Twitter or Facebook than via a google search.
So where do these new technologies leave us?
In addition to taking over the conversation, we are also poised to take over marketing.
Not just individuals, but small business and other agile businesses are able to use these tools, no more need for the splash pages and expensive media campaigns. Less need for internet gurus and conferences. Everyone can become a guru and everyone can host (and attend) a conference. These new technologies are bringing us virality x1000. This is the internet becoming more open. Dependence on a well-traveled URL or an O’Reilly web 2.0 conference is diminishing and this is a good thing.
Sure, it’s a little messy now, but let’s embrace these changes for what they have brought to people, not quibble about transient platforms which have brought about