The web is being body-snatched by the feudal lords of computing


Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon are the reigning feudal lords of computing. (Microsoft at this point is a fledgling prince.) In return for convenience we pledge the lords our data and security. Some of this happened because geeks made the same mistakes the left has made in politics (see below!).

These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them – or to a particular one we don’t like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.

From the always perceptive Doc Searls live-blogging a talk by Anil Dash:

Our hubris helped them do this.

  • We, the geeks of the world, the builders of public spaces, created non-appealing stuff. It didn’t compete. (e.g. OpenID)
  • Thus we (i.e. everybody) are privileging prisons over the Web itself.
  • We (geeks) did sincerely care
  • We were so arrogant around the goodness of our own open creations that Zuck’s closed vision seemed more appealing
  • That Z’s private club was more appealing says something.
  • How we told the story, how we went about it, also mattered. We didn’t appeal. We talked to ourselves.
  • It’s not just about UI, though we did suck at that too. It was about being in tune with ordinary non-geeks
  • If we had been listening more”¦ and had been a little more open in self-criticism”¦

This could just as easily be about the failure of the hard left to present a compelling vision then implement it. Too much talking among themselves. Too little listening. Way too much smug assurance that since we are right we must therefore prevail.