It’s a wonderful idea: a complete world of web sites linking one to another in a seamless network, working together to make the Internet an experience for all, to bring people together and create a global village without boundaries, without borders. But it is just that, simply an idea. Although web 2.0 has been ‘in operation’ for quite a while now, it isn’t working out as might have been hoped.
There are two problems at work, making web 2.0 fail. The first is the censor in some countries which decides what is to be allowed through and what has to be hidden, suppressed or even made into a criminal act. What is hidden or suppressed becomes even more interesting, even if it is the most mundane subject in the world. If it is hidden there must be a reason, and so people go after it even more. However, the fact that information, access has been banned stops the ideal of web 2.0 from working all over the world.
It could, however, work elsewhere. Fine, the barriers would still be there for people in China, for example, but access for everyone else without borders, without unn3ecessary controls is available. We are able to interact with one another through a wide variety of platforms, find friends and colleagues on several different sites through the web 2.0 friendly links and work partnerships and that is what it is all about.
Except that this isn’t the case either. There is a form of censorship in the ‘free’ western world too, and it is a purely commercial one. Where once good connections were is now only the memory of how it could have worked, how the global Internet village could have been but, thanks to the ‘bottom line’ cannot be. It’s not all that long ago I received a message telling me that my Twitter ‘friend’ (someone I am following) had just joined Instagram. I was able to get over to their account, see if it interested me and then either sign up or move on. It was but a brief connection, a brief moment of borderless information that has been stopped by Twitter.
The bottom line for many Internet social media services now is to protect what they have rather than take the risk of improvement or loss by sharing. The information that we enter as subscribers or users makes money for companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google. Our search habits, the sites we mark as good (or Like), the subjects we talk about are all trends which, when gathered into an anonymous mass, tells other companies with a financial interest in certain products, what the people out there think, want, wish for. If Google, Facebook or Twitter share this information one with another, then they no longer have a market for themselves, their competition has exactly the same information.
So, because it is a matter of market share, of making money, of pleasing the advertisers and shareholders and not of providing a complete service for the user, the connections have been broken, the APIs changed, the borders closed. Which is a shame, because the main players in this game could have benefited from the addition information, from the new users who would have come in their direction. My friend on Twitter, who I enjoy reading and chatting with, is now in Instagram so I want to go there and see their photographs, I want to sign up for it. Except, now, unless my friend expressly tells me that they are on Instagram (or any of the other social media sites) I’m not going to know. The site loses my custom since I have no connection to it and, thus, my information, habits and trends.
Web 2.0 is going to remain a failure as far as borderless global village thinking is concerned, since the main players in the community have closed the doors to their villages and are manning the battlements to prevent the whole from working. A shame but, alas, something we are not going to be able to change so long as these players are so powerful and, effectively, control the market place as much as the future of communciation on the Internet.
- Viktoria Michaelis.