There’s a very interesting (if several months old) article over on the website of a company named Sedo, written by the company’s CEO. Sedo, founded in Germany, is a company that brokers the sale of domains that have already been registered.
The article, though, isn’t really about their business. It’s about a variation of one of several — maybe even many — misconceptions about what the Internet is. Ask different people the question, “What is the Internet?” and you’re likely to get almost as many answers as people you ask. These days you might get an answer like, “Facebook is the Internet,” or even the other way around: “The Internet is Facebook.”
However, even if you realise how absurd those statements are, you might still be caught up in all of the hype that are Facebook, Twitter, and various other social networking websites, and technologies du jour. I’m not discounting these services; they exist, and they have proven their worth and reach — the latter especially during these days of unrest in north Africa and the Middle East. But the fundamental difference between these services that are built on the Internet and the Internet itself — clearly illustrated just by that very statement — is that Facebook and Twitter can go away. On the other hand, until the human race evolves the ability to use telepathy and manage it to communicate with dozens or millions of people around the world, the Internet (or some variation of it) is likely here to stay.
Something else that’s a bit ironic about the way people perceive companies like Facebook and Apple, and how those companies perceive themselves, is that this is a classic example of “back to the future”, or maybe “forwards to the past”. Back before the Internet moved out of the science laboratory and into the public realm, there were a couple of online services named AOL and CompuServe, and many smaller services called bulletin board systems (BBS for short). You couldn’t navigate outside of those “walled gardens“, and companies would set up the forerunners of what would later become websites within those walled gardens, accessible by using a “keyword” given out in advertising. The Internet knocked down those walls, but companies like Apple and Facebook are (ironically) building them again — essentially blocking the view and the freedoms created by the Internet.
Unfortunately the archived version of this article on the Sedo website lacks an important table that illustrates what I think is the key to understanding the main point of this article, so I’m providing both a PDF version of this article, and a link to the stripped-down article on the Sedo website:
- Navigation Nightmare: The Deadly Danger of Facebook, Twitter, Google and the iPhone, by Tim Schumacher (Sedo website)
- Navigation Nightmare: The Deadly Danger of Facebook, Twitter, Google and the iPhone, by Tim Schumacher (PDF version with tables and illustrations, 263 kB)
Enjoy, and if you have any questions about the information in this article, feel free to contact me through the NinerNet website.