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.
The essay connects individual user behavior, click-by-click, with the larger trends in the Internet's growth. Worth reading and reflecting on.