Wed, 05 Dec 2018 21:06:04 +0000

The Lost Webspace

The modern web has lost majority of the common space. The majority of content currently is behind walls of Farsebook groups, Slocked conversations, hidden Twitter profiles, etc. The most visible example of that are paywalled news sites, which are slowly becoming a standard, despite the fact that nobody likes them. The places that are left seem to be elements of the past; the news sites with majority of their views coming from social media, the blogs which could hold their conferences with their entire public in a local cafe, wikis with last update 2 years ago and 1 update 3 months ago, but that one just fixed the spelling.

As a person who started their usage of the net in the mid-2000s, my experience of that space disappearing was a process, which now can be only compared to the psychology of the fall of the Roman Empire. The spaces started disappearing, and the time continued, we ignored the change. The net always had walled gardens, the ones of IRC channels and mailing lists, but they were the alternative, created for the need etc. Not the norm. For years, a standard for gamer communication were forums, such as gamespots GameFAQs (from which content is still searchable). Now most of the gamers use the darkest of the walled gardens - Discord, where every discussion of strategies, methods, multiplayer games is private.

In my opinion, the main cause of this creation of common space and its downfall was the growth of the internet, and the centralization of the content control by social media giants. As forums became oversaturated with content, they experienced down time, and threads that existed for extremely long periods of time. Another problem was that the forum based community required creation of accounts, which despite taking few seconds, was never enjoyable. Centralized social media changed that. Now a person with Discord account can be at one time in a Gothic group, Trap Fetish group, Ultra-right wing discussion group and that particular anime series group at one time!

This result shows how centralization and monopolization is a normal process in capitalism, where small actors go into unimportance, and then try to recreate the things of the past. But at this point it is too late, the content has been already lost to the giants. The internet itself is not an exception to elements of capitalism, and it got the crash course on getting from a forums with donation for a flair to paying $35 to read Bloomberg magazine in just ~10 years! There is no way out of this that does not involve a change of economic system. Surely, some of the readers might scratch their heads, as this article is on gopherspace, which still kept the old. But then, gopherspace in capitalism is unable to become major player, and let's hope it won't change and allow the corps to enter.

PS. The site I wanted to take article about paywalls being bad (duh!), was (probably in the meantime) paywalled itself. Oh, the irony!

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