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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 20 Nov 2011

It's becoming their Internet -- it should be our Internet

Responding to Rob Reed's Google+ post on the dark side of huge corporate entities -- read: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube -- controlling what we see and don't see on the Internet, I wrote a couple of responses (instead of one because you can't edit an existing post or comment on Google+'s Android client), which I will repeat here because, a) they're not bad and b) I'm against "giving away" content to social networks and c) the irony of us having this discussion about Facebook on the newest, shiniest corporate-created social network, Google+ is particularly rich (and I acknowledge my part in it).

Here is what I wrote:

The whole idea that blogging, the phenomenon, had its year in the sun, and now the idea of regular people writing things on the web is all about Facebook and Twitter, is terrible.

That so many abandon what they're doing for another thing because that other new thing is posited as the solution to all of life's problems speaks to our society's continual fascination with the new.

That we are conducting this discussion on the new, hot social network, Google+, should not be lost on any of us.

And that we are using Google+ as a glorified web forum ... ditto.

Blogging is just an easy way to post sequentially created content to the web. It's a useful, dare I say paradigm-shifting tool.

Not that social-networking services are not similarly revolutionary. But it should be about the social networking, not the service that provides it. Not the corporation using that service for profit and for minting millionaires and billionaires.

We can and should be able to make these connections and do this aggregation without being beholden and subject to the profit-focused whims of corporations who naturally put their own best interests far ahead of those of their users.

Blogging had already 'jumped the shark,' when it became easy for the average person to create a blog with downloaded software installed on their own web space, be that a physical, wholly owned server, a leased server, a virtual private server, or a shared-hosting account. We don't need to depend on Google/Blogger, Wordpress.com, Livejournal, Tumblr or Typepad to run a blog for us.

This is a good thing, and it is also a good thing to have the option of doing this with social networking as well.

And we do, with forum software like phpBB and Vanilla, microblogging services like Identi.ca and the Status.net software that powers it for a Twitter-like service, and the open-source Diaspora for a Facebook-like service. There could and should be many more.

Monopoly is bad. We need search engines other than Google. Smartphone makers other than Apple. OSes other than Windows.

Diversity. Choice. Options. No 'one big thing.'

That's the ticket.

...

(More on the relative "evil" of Google, Facebook and Twitter)

Google could very well be just as bad as Facebook. Google bounced one of my clients for supposedly robo-clicking on Google AdSense ads. I know they didn't do this, but there was no recourse and no consideration on the part of Google. They dropped that client, they refused to reconsider, and I had to move on in the search for moderate revenue (of which Google was going to net more of than we were for content they had no hand in creating).

At least Google is offering web-content creators crumbs. What is Facebook offering us? You guessed correctly!

Google could indeed be more evil despite its "don't be evil" credo. When you decide the meaning of "evil," it's easier to stick to your guns when all the guns are yours.

For the most part, Twitter and Google aren't taking the kind of advantage of users that Facebook is taking. Not that Google and Twitter's hands are clean. Nope. Maybe Twitter's are a little cleaner because they haven't been all that effective in monetizing the virtual goldmine right under their asses.

I know why I'm on Google+. It's the "innovation" of being able to write a post longer than 140-400 characters, and the early adopters among the user base that have a high degree of like-mindedness.

But I am NOT going to be creating content, these comments notwithstanding (and they shouldn't be ... ), for Google unless I'm getting paid, even in traffic to my websites (which these comments probably aren't doing much of a job at).

No, I'm here to see what interesting people are up to, and to let them know what I'm up to.

It's tempting to make more out of it. And many of us are. I'll probably be using Google Hangouts at some point for video collaboration.

And I sure want my links out there on this and other services.

I'm not going to give away the store, especially to mega-corporations that aren't paying me. I'm not expecting to make a mint on my content, but why should I contribute to Google or Facebook's bottom line?