Here are some key points from this long article:
Before the year 2014, there were many people using Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Today, there are still many people using services from those three tech giants (respectively, GOOG, FB, AMZN). However, the underlying dynamics of power on the Web have drastically changed.
Internet activity itself hasn’t slowed down. It maintains a steady growth. GOOG and FB now have direct influence over 70%+ of internet traffic. The relationship between media sites and the two tech giants is difficult.
Three internet companies have acquired massive influence on the Web. Tim Berners-Lee himself claims the Web is dying: the Web he wanted and the Web he got are no longer the same. After 2014, we started losing the benefits of the internet’s infrastructural and economical diversity.
GOOG, MSFT, FB, and AMZN are mimicking AAPL’s strategy of building brand loyalty around high-end devices. Through a process I call “Appleification”, they are (1) setting up walled gardens, (2) becoming hardware companies, and (3) marketing the design while designing for the market.
The Web and the internet have represented freedom: efficient and unsupervised exchange of information between people of all nations. In the Trinet, we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom.
The Web’s death will come as a gradual decay. The internet will survive longer than the Web will.
Tomi Engdahl says:
Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: ‘The system is failing’
The inventor of the world wide web remains an optimist but sees a ‘nasty wind’ blowing amid concerns over advertising, net neutrality and fake news
“I’m still an optimist, but an optimist standing at the top of the hill with a nasty storm blowing in my face, hanging on to a fence,” said the British computer scientist.
“We have to grit our teeth and hang on to the fence and not take it for granted that the web will lead us to wonderful things,” he said.
The spread of misinformation and propaganda online has exploded partly because of the way the advertising systems of large digital platforms such as Google or Facebook have been designed to hold people’s attention.
“People are being distorted by very finely trained AIs that figure out how to distract them,” said Berners-Lee.
In some cases, these platforms offer users who create content a cut of advertising revenue. The financial incentive drove Macedonian teenagers with “no political skin in the game” to generate political clickbait fake news that was distributed on Facebook and funded by revenue from Google’s automated advertising engine AdSense.
“The system is failing. The way ad revenue works with clickbait is not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy. So I am concerned,” said Berners-Lee, who in March called for the regulation of online political advertising to prevent it from being used in “unethical ways”.
Since then, it has been revealed that Russian operatives bought micro-targeted political ads aimed at US voters on Facebook, Google and Twitter. Data analytics firms such as Cambridge Analytica, which builds personality profiles of millions of individuals so they can be manipulated through “behavioural micro-targeting”, have also been criticised for creating “weaponised AI propaganda”.
“We have these dark ads that target and manipulate me and then vanish because I can’t bookmark them. This is not democracy – this is putting who gets selected into the hands of the most manipulative companies out there,” said Berners-Lee.
“We are so used to these systems being manipulated that people just think that’s how the internet works. We need to think about what it should be like,”