Last month I mentioned essays by Dave Winer, John Battelle, and Keith Woolcock on why the growth of "social media" threatened the survival of the original social/individual/international medium known as the Internet. Short version of net history, as they present it:
-Back in the AOL era, people did their communicating within separate, proprietary "walled gardens" of the cybersphere -- AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc.
-During the Google era, they did business across proprietary boundaries (though sometimes within national boundaries, as under China's closed system) via the open Internet.
-In the emerging Facebook era, the growth-and-activity is channeled back into proprietary spheres.
The argument did not contend that Google was less profit-minded than any of the others. On the contrary, it has been a hugely effective profit machine. The crucial difference is that Google's model for profit-maximization (usefully) involved maximizing openness and connections on the Internet. Whereas the Facebook model, like the AOL model long before it, maximized separateness in proprietary spheres.
A new essay today, by Tristan Louis at his site, extends the logic. It begins thus: The essay connects individual user behavior, click-by-click, with the larger trends in the Internet's growth. Worth reading and reflecting on.