Certain things about the internet leave me very uncomfortable. I dislike the near monopoly of book sales that Amazon has, and the way in which supporting that monopoly is one of the few way in which bloggers can make money – through affiliate links. I tried that for about a week and then gave up not because I could not stomach the idea of helping along the growth of Amazon.
Then there is the growth of Facebook, and the knowledge that so many small businesses and organizations depend upon facebook, yet facebook changes the rules repeatedly to make it harder and harder for them to get the free advertisement ability. Perhaps I should be glad that it leaves spaces for local newspaper advertisements, but instead it makes me nervous about what depending on one source for disseminating information can lead to. Bloggers who put a lot of time into trying to build up a blog following on facebook find that their posts there barely reach any of the followers. Politicians or want-to-be politicians face newspapers reporting about their facebook followers as though that was an accurate count of popularity.
I think about how all these networks – YouTube, google, facebook, twitter, etc – all try to customize the internet to what we think we want, and in doing so create echo chambers. I re-read Vi Hart’s commentary about the merging of Youtube and Google+ and how the reworking of things ends up encouraging inflammatory comments rather than rational debate.
I think about how I’m beginning to like both twitter and google+ and I like sharing different things at each place, but I also have this weird creepy feeling about the internet that I didn’t use to have. I have this sense that its like a holodeck program of Star Trek, where no matter how far it feels like I’m walking, I’m really in the same room. I might think I’m in control of my own social media content but really, I’m not.
The internet still allows small voices to speak out, but the intrastructure is highly controlled and slanted against us. Bloggers might be huge content producers but because we depend upon social media to get things out there, we offer ourselves and our audience to the advertisers who pay the social media companies. It’s all very uncomfortable to me, as I try to carve out my own little home here on the web. How can I be more responsible in the ways in which I participate in the structures on the internet? And by responsible I mean responsible not just for my own privacy and my own experience on the internet, but in trying to resist the systems that control internet users for their own profit?