Tuesday, November 17, 2020

death of the net, film at 11

Recently there's been some kerfuffle about all apps on Macs phoning home and privacy concerns in general on Apple products. I haven't been tracking too closely to know if Apple's explanation and promise about not logging stuff, mostly using it as an anti-malware measure, satisfies those concerns.

It does remind me of the role of government in general. I value freedom but I'm no Libertarian, and I think one of the essential purposes of government is to stop exploitation of the weak by the more powerful. In some ways I do want a "bigger brother" because I more fear what groups at intermediate levels of power will do, especially with nothing like a ballot box to put them in check.

I see a pretty obvious parallel, then, with what Apple's doing. Free Software stalwarts like Stallman would absolutely stress the need to unfettered use of general purpose computation as a human right! But I think for many of us, the "walled garden" approach - so long as the walls aren't too high or confining - suffices.

I've also been thinking about this answer to Is Google in Decline? Borislav Agapiev uses this chart about the number of websites (even though some estimate 1/4 of them are parked domains) to point to a "Yes" answer:

Agapiev goes on to say how this means Google's fundamental assumption of fresh links and being the start page for everything on the web is not wellfounded: 

First there are big vertical silos, starting with Amazon, but also including other big walled gardens such as Facebook, Twitter and a host of others such as Netflix, Spotify, Shopify, eBay, Craigslist etc. So the best deals, social chatter and tweets, song and shopping recommendations, auction deals, free ads etc. are to be found elsewhere.

The same really goes for basically every vertical. Way back (remember Googlebase?) it was thought nobody should bother with any vertical as Google had it in there anyway. Googlebase is long gone and people go to CarGurus or Carvana for cars, Zillow for online house listings, Indeed and others for job postings etc., the list goes on and on.

Heh, happy to have worked at CarGurus, even as I'm at one of "and others for job postings" right now. 

It also reminds me of a recent 99% Invisible podcast I enjoyed, The Lost Cities of Geo, about Geocities, a remarkably egalitarian way to get people putting stuff up on the early web. I suppose Facebook is even more egalitarian, for better or worse! And I think they still benefit from being the only place in the US market to really connect people's real life persona to their online one, in a way Twitter or Tumblr hasn't. People have a lot of privacy reservations and what not about the place, and some have decided that remote family members and old classmates don't have that much of interest to say, but I understand the continuing appeal of it, and rely on it as my best connection to any kind of audience. Its proficiency as a vector for disinformation not withstanding...

I still bumble around on the independent blogosphere, because well-established patterns die hard with me - (almost 20 years of daily posts with hardly a day missed at kirk.is!) and I find great value in being able to look up every half-remembered quote, as well sharing and looking back on old photos and what not. 

Ah well, just some thoughts about the state of the online world!

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