article 1: How to fix the internet -
"I want to leave (insert app name here), but ..."
- All my friends are on (app1) and none of them are on (app2).
- I don't want to lose access all of my pictures or posts but I can't be bothered to spend dozens of hours downloading and organizing them.
- I don't want to manage a million accounts and app downloads/logins
- The convenience outweighs ethical reservations
It shouldn't be this way. Apps should not be trapping users on their platform.
problem with internet
big tech monopoly
- stifling innovation - big companies buy up any promising startup.
- traditional problems with monopoly/monopsony - price fixing on salaries, suppliers and customers.
- race for market share strategy leads to speculative and unstable job market.
- surveillance capitalism isn't healthy for the human psyche
- solution: decentralization, user-owned data, interoperability,
Some shitty things that have happened in the last few years that are a direct result of the way we've mis-structured the internet.
- Twitter being bought by one eccentric billionaire
- Mass layoffs in the recent stock crash
- Everything about Facebook
- Legitimate national security concerns about TikTok
- Censorship (although this has become coded as right-wing in recent years it also effects the left). It's harder to migrate to a platform with moderation policies you like. The general protocol should be free-like email, but platforms can moderate as they will.
Email is a great example of an interoperable protocol. Why couldn't social media, or all sorts of other apps be built along the same lines. Sure, it might generate less trillion dollar companies, but the fact is that most of these apps aren't very complicated to develop and most of their complexity comes from bloat and surveillance features. In general society would be a lot better off even if there were less tech jobs, there would be more small companies which generally treat workers and their society/environment better.
If I ranked big tech companies from least to most evil it might have companies like spotify and netflix on the less evil side and google, facebook and amazon on the more evil side. For companies that rely on a subscription model, the user, and not advertisers are actually the customer. But even these companies have already achieved almost monopoly status and users would surely benefit if they had to face stronger competition.
We assume that these social media companies need to be massive feats of engineering because of their billions of users across the globe. But the reason those apps are difficult is almost entirely because of those companies' insistence to horde massive amount of user data. Google, Amazon, and Facebook have hundreds (source) of giant data centers around the world, each of which often use more than a small city's worth of electricity to run. Not only are they collecting and storing the obvious kinds of data you might consider that you've generated on Facebook like photos, comments, posts, lists of friend connections and so on but also reams and reams of metadata about users' habits and actions while using the site. What did a user click on or what site did they go to after seeing a certain post? how much interaction time do they have with a certain content and so on. A case could be made that this data could be valuable for providing better user experiences, but the economic imperatives that these business work under insure that it is first used to better service advertisers. But how would we pay for it otherwise? Well it wouldn't cost as much in the first place without the massive overhead that the surveillance adds.
- skip right to solution methods, refer to article one for problem and solution
Big tech is too powerful. Their business models, which on monopoly, network effects, surveillance capitalism, and vendor lock-in stifle innovation and harm society in a myriad of ways. The technology to turn this around already exists today.
Nowadays when people hear the word 'decentralized', their first association will probably be crypto or web3 and their first instinct to clutch their wallet and back away.
Crypto has mostly stolen the show because of its inherent connection to crypto currencies and speculation (read: people think it's something that can help them get rich quick). But they've correctly identified the problem and it resonates with people for a good reason. We all know that the internet is deeply broken. Centralization, conglomeration, and monopoly in big tech is clearly part of the problem. The unhealthy profit incentives of surveillance capitalism are creating huge social and mental health problems. Millions of employees live bound to the whims of eccentric billionaires and erratic stock markets
The internet is deeply broken