plans

plans

I propose we abandon the Internet, or at least accept the fact that it has been surrendered to corporate control like pretty much everything else in Western society. It was bound to happen, and its flawed, centralized architecture made it ripe for conquest. Just as the fledgling peer-to-peer economy of the Late Middle Ages was quashed by a repressive monarchy that still had the power to print money and write laws, the fledgling Internet of the 21st century is being quashed by a similarly corporatist government that has its hands on the switches through which we mean to transact and communicate. It will never truly level the playing fields of commerce, politics, and culture. And if it looks like that does stand a chance of happening, the Internet will be adjusted to prevent it.

Of course, the model that Zuckerberg is hoping to replace isn’t the Peel show but the search engine. If Zuckerberg gets his way, Facebook recommendations will replace Google searches as the main route by which we navigate to websites. This would hardly be a paradigm shift; more a tidying up, combining what are currently two steps into one. With a search engine, you have to know more or less what you’re looking for before you begin: there’s an implied recommendation preceding most things we type into Google. What Zuckerberg’s betting on is that those recommendations will increasingly be made online, with a direct link, so the work you now ask Google to do will already have been done.

As for the first question, why people are so unfussed by Facebook’s lack of privacy, it must in part be because the site fosters the illusion that you’re among friends. The success of Facebook implies that most people are more comfortable thinking of the internet as an extension of their offline lives, where everything and everyone they are likely to encounter is already known to them. Which is all very well, but it does mean that the overweight kids in glasses get bullied there too.