We have "too-big-to-fail" companies running all of the services that most sites and users depend on, which they can shut down at any time with little-to-no repercussions (Google in particular is notorious for this). We've got governments erecting their own firewalls to shut down opposing views. We've got ads, trackers, and biased algorithms that help ensure you stumble upon their sponsored content.
Of course this sort of stuff should arise "naturally" by man, but we can do better.
SaaS providers like Google and Facebook don't matter at all. Their importance has been exaggerated to epic proportions. If Google/Alphabet were to fail tomorrow the Internet would barely notice outside of social conversation. It'd be a curiosity, but the system would adapt. "Some People" might be without E-mail for a few hours, and a lot of E-mail providers would see surges in sales.
We can help encourage the survivability by teaching new users of alternatives for search, blogging, following friends and so on.
Tens of thousands of businesses would lose their primary source of income (google ads).
Tens of thousands of businesses would lose their workplace services (G Suite).
Analytics systems that are running 24/7 for multibillion dollar corporations would shut down. Who has the capability to fill that void?
Millions of creators would lose their platform (Youtube)
You can definitely claim that "Too Big To Fail" is not a true concept, but the significance of the failure is not to be taken lightly.
Advertising is dead, so if your revenue is 100% ad based start looking for new models before it dries up.
The article doesn't say that Google et al are too big to fail. It says they have entirely too much power over internet user's experience and are misusing it in many ways.
>We can help encourage the survivability by teaching new users of alternatives for search, blogging, following friends and so on.
Really? So you and some other people will somehow contact the millions of new users that come online each year and persuade them to stay from Facebook?
Are you unwilling to participate?
"will somehow contact the millions of new users that come online each year and persuade them to"
That's literally how the internet exploded, why can't the same process work for improving people's ability to use it to serve their best interests. The process is helped along by certain public organizations like the EFF or celebrities like R. Stallman encouraging people to move away from corporate controls.
The greatest feature of the internet is decentralization. Facebook and Google aren't going to change that, even tho every corporation would like to. As long as we don't fall asleep at the wheel as users.
Where exactly would handle, say, just the email? American legislatures would pass their first bipartisan business legislation by the day's end.
You can teach all you want to, but the PHB's with the money and power will overrule any moral high ground you're sitting on.
Don't take personal offense, the idea that you need some corporation to handle your E-mail is an ignorance, one that's reinforced by those very corporations' marketing departments.
I've been operating my own E-mail servers for two different domains for pennies per day for years now. It's cheap, it's (relatively) easy, and it's _better_ when you control it yourself. If Gmail were to fail, it would be one of the best things to happen to the world economy.
If you're worried about centralization, net neutrality won't help much. Facebook and Google are large enough to crowd out other players with or without net neutrality.
We did have it. Defacto net neutrality, enforced by a competetive ISP market. It worked. And once we started to lose that, consumers absolutely did feel the impact. Remember when Comcast throttled bit torrent?
>If you're worried about centralization, net neutrality won't help much. Facebook and Google are large enough to crowd out other players with or without net neutrality.
Sure, they can still dominate under net neutrality. It's just significantly easier without it.
Also, if these laws were so obviously needed, why did they need to shovel $196M toward promoting them ?
The whole point of net neutrality is that you shouldn't notice it, because you should just be able to use your network connection for whatever you want.
In 2005 a Republican appointed FCC commissioner under a Republican president ordered an ISP to stop blocking VOIP services on their network. This is a real thing that happened and I think plenty of people have noticed how useful VOIP and related services like Skype, Facetime, Hangouts, Discord are even if they aren't aware that the ability to use them has only been enabled by regulatory intervention.
That wasn't a single regional ISP; it was a pretty common behavior. It's also something that would be fixed by either having a range of different ISPs available in a region, or enforcing net neutrality (in the sense of treating data as an opaque payload to be delivered).
"crowd out" is a vague term. Maybe they make the most money, but money isn't the only thing that matters. The forums I frequent and the DuckDuckGo are doing just fine, but I'm not sure they would be if net neutrality falls apart completely.
So... If much of the web (by usage) exists on Facebook, much of its value exists on Facebook. That value is under Facebook's control, logorithmically to scale.
This depends on how you define value. If you're talking about advertising revenue, then yes (and bizarrely other services let you authenticate through them, which I still don't understand). But if you're talking about the exchange of practical information, then Facebook's pretty meager and sites with technical documentation or Q&A are much better (for software developers, anyway).
I don't believe network effect is one-size-fits-all. Facebook is fine for keeping up with casual acquaintances. But if you want to find a local group with shared interests, then you may have better luck on Meetup. Or if you want to share Q&A with other developers, Stack Overflow is probably better. Each one has its own domain within which it's king.
How to improve/fix? Some random thoughts I have had of late:
• Disallow comments on YouTube. What honestly would we lose?
• Users can delete their Facebook accounts (I did)
If we think of it, the amount of lockdown to google is scary - it's browser, search, mail, navigation, advertisement, all photos and documents and now with AMP to a certain degree the web content itself.
Oh wait, that was Berners-Lee and the W3C. He must be taking about some other systemic failure here.
If the long tail of websites are getting proportionally less traffic, would be evidence of centralization.
Regulators are more flexible than legislatures, but are still not very flexible in practice. The difference is mostly that they can enforce rules more effectively, but the rulemaking itself is not generally very good.
Causation runs at least partially the other way, but think of the current industries that are heavily regulated: banking, medicine, tobacco...
Second, "compliance" becomes a power word, within companies. The lawyers and bureaucrats get much more powerful.
Also, regulating industries is almost always big firm and incumbent friendly. Calling these businesses hard to enter is an understatement. You basically can't start a tobacco company or bank unless you already are one, or are well connected and wealthy.
Idk what the solution is, but I doubt it is this. We'll see how GDPR plays out, but I'm not holding my breath.
The problem (imo) is that the internet is a communication technology. These have network effects, and centralisation tendencies.
In a perfect world, the solutions to the problem (I agree with tbl about the problem) are protocols, browsers and the like.
If email wasn't a protocol/standard, it'd have been invented as a proprietary service. But, since the standard existed and was popular...it lives. Building onto emails, in an open way, generally failed. So, email lists gave way to proprietary services.
There are still parts of the internet that are open like this. Podcasts is an interesting one. It gained a lot of ground recently in the mature web era.
On the business end, podcasts seem to be much better for the content makers than YouTube or other distribution methods. Interesting. They seem like an echo from an older internet.
A lot of things could have beeen standards, app stores, social networks.. a lot of things could have been solved by the browser, including half the stuff "regulators" are trying to fix now. Ultimately, online tracking works because browsers & standards let it happen.
It's just hard, and the incentive to grab a little internet fief is too strong. In some ways, it's surprising the web is as open as it is.
Here are the first three Google results I got for "Tim Berners-Lee Net Neutrality":
These all seem to show support for Net Neutrality.
I would at least do a Google search and post a source with a quote before calling Tim Berners-Lee "very stupid".
I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space – for everyone.
That vision is only possible if we get everyone online, and make sure the web works for people.
The web is not free - I have to pay an ISP to access it. Who is 'everyone' in this instance? I don't know what 'open' means exactly, and creative how? Because I can post pictures of cats on reddit? What is creative about 'the web' specifically?
What 'vision'? Why is it only possible if 'we', who is we? get everyone online? Why is that a prerequisite? 'Make sure the web works for people'? What does that even mean?
His solution to the problem of centralized control is to add more control (most likely in the hands of a few) via a regulator? Let me guess...that regulator should be him?
It sounds to me more like someone who is struggling for relevance in a changing world he doesn’t understand.
Over and over again I've had to explain to people that they don't need their hand-rolled solution because a better solution has been in HTTP since 1.0 for purposes of cache invalidation. It's as accurate as NTP without opening up an attack vector (hijacking NTP or NTP DOS).
Any time you contact a server your User Agent tells it what time it is. Any time the server responds it does the same. Both parties can calculate offsets just fine with just the HTTP headers. The only consensus that matters is between the hub and one spoke.
When the server says "It's 12 noon and this response document was generated at 11:58:50" you know it was 70 seconds ago. Nevermind that your browser thinks it's currently 4:30 pm. The age of the file is 'now' - 70 seconds. If you PUT a file at 4:35 the server will say it was created at 12:05.
Anyway, this is my favorite thing about the HTTP protocol. Human readable from traffic dumps was #2.