Remember FOAF and Atom?

The FOAF logo.Yeah, me neither. Due to the requirements of technical skill, the WWW, RSS, Atom and FOAF never evolved into the decentralized social networking and news dissemination platforms that smart people in 2001 hoped they would be.

Instead we got Facebook and Twitter–ad filled, controlled, walled gardens whose only virtue is that they are easy to use. Just like YouTube pretty much settled all the arguments over streaming media, by being easier to use than hosting your own media files. I mean there are some brave attempts to keep decentralized, open social networking systems alive but, essentially it’s over. For most people, most of the news, content and social interactions of the Internet, are now handled by a small number of companies.

It’s like the sadness that comes to me when I think about the reasons PGP e-mail encryption never became widely used, thus dooming us to a decade of easily preventable spam and e-mail worms.

But, sure, I got sucked in too. I keep grumbling about it but I use Facebook commonly now, just like most everyone else. But I’ll keep searching for the next new thing. Despite appearances there is still a lot of activity outside Twitter and Facebook. Under it all, the Internet is still there.

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