Enter Facebook. The site began as a free but closed system. It required not just registration but an acceptable email address (from a university, or later, from any school). Google was forbidden to search through its servers. By the time it opened to the general public in 2006, its clublike, ritualistic, highly regulated foundation was already in place. Its very attraction was that it was a closed system. Indeed, Facebook’s organization of information and relationships became, in a remarkably short period of time, a redoubt from the Web — a simpler, more habit-forming place. The company invited developers to create games and applications specifically for use on Facebook, turning the site into a full-fledged platform. And then, at some critical-mass point, not just in terms of registration numbers but of sheer time spent, of habituation and loyalty, Facebook became a parallel world to the Web, an experience that was vastly different and arguably more fulfilling and compelling and that consumed the time previously spent idly drifting from site to site. Even more to the point, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg possessed a clear vision of empire: one in which the developers who built applications on top of the platform that his company owned and controlled would always be subservient to the platform itself. It was, all of a sudden, not just a radical displacement but also an extraordinary concentration of power. The Web of countless entrepreneurs was being overshadowed by the single entrepreneur-mogul-visionary model, a ruthless paragon of everything the Web was not: rigid standards, high design, centralized control.
The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet | Wired Magazine | Wired.com. This Chris Anderson piece from 2010 seems to be getting more relevant every day.