What Happens to the Web When It Knows Who You Are

Here's some great weekend reading from John Battelle. He distills and names a pattern that we cover regularly here on The Atlantic: the increasing prevalence of websites that change what you see based on who they think you are.

He calls this the rise of the "Dependent Web." It's a major change to how we've thought about the Internet, and this piece will step you through the (big) implications. Highly recommended:

Here's one major architectural pattern I've noticed: the emergence of two distinct territories across the web landscape. One I'll call the "Dependent Web," the other is its converse: The "Independent Web."

The Dependent Web is dominated by companies that deliver services, content and advertising based on who that service believes you to be: What you see on these sites "depends" on their proprietary model of your identity, including what you've done in the past, what you're doing right now, what "cohorts" you might fall into based on third- or first-party data and algorithms, and any number of other robust signals. The Independent Web, for the most part, does not shift its content or services based on who you are.

However, in the past few years, a large group of these sites have begun to use Dependent Web algorithms and services to deliver advertising based on who you are. A Shift In How The Web Works? And therein lies the itch I'm looking to scratch: With Facebook's push to export its version of the social graph across the Independent Web; Google's efforts to personalize display via AdSense and Doubleclick; AOL, Yahoo and Demand building search-driven content farms, and the rise of data-driven ad exchanges and "Demand Side Platforms" to manage revenue for it all, it's clear that we're in the early phases of a major shift in the texture and experience of the web

Read the full story at John Battelle.