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My rant about why it's too late to save the common web from Facebook, Google, Amazon and other 'data black holes.'

It's even too late for +John Battelle and +Dave Winer to save us.
The halls of CERN where the Web was invented. The date was January 3, 2008. Facebook had kicked me off for running a script to try to save the common web. See, I worked with Plaxo to run a simple scri...
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The "common web" is a myth once anything gets popular it stops being common...
+Robert Scoble what we could do is that pressure the companies above to share data with each other to avoid or minimize the fragmentation of the internet between them.
It seems like the consolidation of social signals was inevitable since before the big aggregators came, everything was by and large scattered. Have you ever listened to a "pure" open source advocate? They have a convincing argument but in the end going pure means boxing yourself out of the main loop.
Or.. we move the cloud into the browser.

It's a thing. I swear!
I never though I'd actually agree you 100% some day!@_0''
With the amount of Google+ posting that's public, the fact that Google+ posting is indexed in search, and that Google heavily promotes it's data liberation feature, do you really consider Google one of those data black holes?
+Robert Scoble I just mean, how exactly do you feel Google is holding your posts here away from the open web, and forcing you to keep them here?
I dont think many can argue....the machine is too big.
+Robert Scoble true but for example MS and FB are already sharing data. Hopefully instead of shutting each other out they will collaborate.

Now that being said that is why I am using G+ and other Google products. If I am going to deal with a data black hole. I rather deal with a data black hole that has the most useful tools for me.
Very true words Robert, always learning new ideas and trains of thought when i get around to read your texts.
+Robert Scoble, I'm not just a user, but I'm tired of caring. I've never been big on trying to save people from themselves, and I've never had the limited (compared to you) success on the common web that I have here on Google+.

I used to post my fiction on my website. Nobody cared. I posted my fiction here, and I've got fans and a publication deal. Let the common web be damned. If the data roach motels become truly obnoxious, the hackers will come up with something better.
My preferred battleground is to encourage Facebook, Google & Twitter to at least expand to allow more content from outside into their world.

I have been trying to get some idea of when we might see more support for iframe video embeds within Google, Facebook & Twitter for the last year.

Initially I want to get uQast video embed showing on more sites. My longer term perspective is to use it for much more than that.

Remember our old discussions on private content and RSS?

I would love to be serving premium paid content directly to where people want to consume it, whether it is inside G+, FB or Twitter.

Google Reader supported YouTube iframe emebds (and Vimeo) pretty much from day one. That support was inherited by Buzz & then G+
It has been well over a year for expanded support, but I really hope Google improve support soon (maybe even first). They have tons of safe browsing tech, and can interpret javascript to see if an iframe has a framebreaker.
+Jake Weisz Good point. Wouldn't all social networking sites violate the tenets of "common web" proponents? I wonder how common web proponents would be satisfied.
This is going to be fun to read, I haven't read this yet so I am kind of commenting in the dark, however I think as these black holes emerge we will still be OK, and we will be OK because we all can create our own little cyberspace. We can have our own little platforms and our own network of contacts and friends and still interact with these black holes without being sucked in. It all sounds so ominous doesn't it??
+Robert Scoble So, for Google+ not to be a data black hole, what would it take? Would it mean that Google cannot archive any of the social data and that we must carry it around ourselves?
Back when I was in school, I remember reading about this behavioural effect, loosely summed up thus: as soon as groups reach a certain critical mass, they fragment and filter to avoid having to interact with all members of that mass. Saw that online with the Well, usenet, etc.

I'm okay with that.

Two of the great strengths of G+: authenticity and quality of content. That will change, as all things do. But for now it suits me fine.
Oh by the way if this Sh** is any good which I am sure it will be since I noticed it is on Scobleizer, I will be curating this piece and giving this my contextual spin on the Internet Billboards. Just a word in advance I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I am not the dullest either.
The one thing I really dislike is that the smart kids did not hold up their end of the bargain. Why do I still have to manually merge my contacts? Why can't I do stuff with Feeds what I should be able to be doing? Why do I for example still have to carefully select my different outlets language wise - why can't I just post what I want, tag it and let you decide where to go from there (maybe you want to learn german?)

Look at any app which today comes on your computer - they all are going for easier and easier - but no expert mode any more as it has been there like 15 years ago.

I want it to be easier for 'normal people' but I also want advancement in technologies for the rest of us! :)
Yes Robert, way too late! My privacy wakeup call was when I first learned that Facebook was using facial recognition. I asked everyone I knew to stop posting photos of me and my family. I kept my account open, posting only a privacy warning. Since then, I post as if everyone, everywhere will see everything I put on line.
(Cross-posting from the blog)

Proponents of the 'open web' like myself have often envisioned a world of interoperable niche services rather than one large monolithic Facebook. As sad as it is for me to admit, an open, interoperable web is something users will need to drive, not idealistic engineers. Proprietary is faster and less expensive and today lends well to a more pleasant UX. All of which users appreciate.

While I certainly haven't given up on the vision of open web standards and interoperability, I know now that their adoption in a way that's at all like what many of us hoped for is something that will have to take place over a much longer period of time and cannot be force fed.
The only organization that I can imagine has enough clout to do anything about this is Wikimedia. Yeah, I know. Not going to happen.
My more tech-minded friends hate me when I say this, but I don't care. I use the tech to reach my goals. These little empires grow and crumble all the time. AOL used to be the only real game in town. Then it vanished. It's always about the people.
+Robert Scoble - and before those, I was on "My House BBS," run by my brother's now father-in-law out of Salem, NH. One at a time, one-line dialup BBS. Used to wait 20-30 minutes while downloading Star Trek fan fic or ASCII naked girls, where every ((((000 was nearly a nipple.
+Matthew Gregg "their end of the deal?" it is late in germany.
Look back some years and tell me in what way the majority of things / tech etc have evolved, except a few big examples. Don't you think there could have been more stuff? Watch the mother of all demos by douglas engelbart from 1968: Douglas Engelbart : The Mother of All Demos (1/9) That was 44 years ago. The ideas are out there.
+Chris Brogan they want to discuss car models and which car you can or cannot drive. and why. and start over again. the rest? they just want to get from a to b and do not care about which vehicle that is. And while the tech minded guys discuss and complain, they do get to their goals.

If you think back - in the beginning of the car you had to be able to fix it in order to drive - not necessary any more. There is triple A and rental companies.
+Nicole Simon - precisely so. I don't even care if it's a car any more. I just want to get there.
+Robert Scoble - very cool. Yeah, I started in around 1984 as a newly minted teen, with the first ever 128k mac. My first modem was 1200 baud, so when we got the 2400, I thought we were screaming. Ah, nerd days. : )
Here's the thing I don't get, though. If the majority of users don't care that they're fragmented from the rest of the web, why does Facebook lock up your contact info?
And I thought Telix and 110 baud were good!
Reading this thread, I suddenly don't feel so old anymore :)
It sounds like it is sad, but being locked in isn't necessarily bad. It's only when you want to move that being locked is an issue.
+Chris Brogan 1200 baud... how luxurious. :) I had to suffer through a 300 baud until my father bought me a 14400 in 1989. I felt like I had travelled into the future.
+Robert Scoble, my data is only worth money if I respond to an advert by buying the advertised product. What good is my data if I ignore or even block ads?
In reality, you're getting it now.
+MG Sexton think myspace. teenagers had NO clue how to make or edit their own page through html. But they understood and learned copy and paste from those website who provided them with the profile they wanted (advertisement and other stuff included).

If export and transfer was easy like that, they could easily move on if most of their friends went to a new bar in town f.e. google plus. And they might find it better ...
+Matthew Graybosch you fall into the group where it does not matter to show the advertisement. but the other ones, who are clicking, are the more expensive ones for advertisers. you are cannon fudder (?) in this scenario. By opting out you give them a very good idea of who you are.

My personal example in this: only since i started playing games on my normal facebook account did I see 'normal' advertisement. I stopped playing and we are back to social media conference, shopping carts and "get more fans on facebook". With the additional (now that I am 41) 'wanna have a baby? how about older single dads around you?" and other stuff I could live without.

There is a reason I do not get bombarded with the brand stuff. They pretty much know that I do not respond to that - so I get the crappy rest. In all seriousness: that alone would be a reason to call up a zynga game once a day. Maybe playing bejeweled will be enough? :)
Already 46 +1s here and only 10 Disqus likes on the blog. Kinda helps make your point Robert.
+Mark Bruce you see it in your stream - if I read that the normal way like the people who will be reacting agrily about this, they would have to fire up their rss reader and click on robert's feed. That is not done in real time. And it has not hit techmeme I assume. Thus - interaction here and not over there. :)
+Matthew Gregg that is what you want. I don't mind intelligent, well catered advertisement. A tool like Adblock Plus just cuts out the advertisement everywhere, robbing me of the chance to find the stuff I want or need. And no, I am not joking.
Putting aside social networks (aka advertising honey pots), then why do you always encourage app developers to build essentially closed apps, rather than web apps.
I'm not joking, either, when I say then when I want or need something, I damn well google it, or ask other people. Advertising is push, not pull, and is a relic of the 20th century. :)
Xin Li
+Robert Scoble Stuff posted on the web is completely public. But many posts shared on G+ are aimed at specific circles or even persons. Those were posts the originator chose not to make public. I would argue those were posts that would've never made it on to the common web had G+ and FB never exists. I don't think G+ is taking anything away from the common web. If you wanted to make your G+ posts public, that's certainly easy to do, and all those posts are indexed in search. I might also add that with Search+ your world, you get access to G+ posts from folks that are not part of the open web, but is part of your circles. 
I don't buy it, +Robert Scoble, anyone who has tracked change as much as you have doesn't give up. The next thing will come along and you'll be there.

Or you're serious. I noticed that doesn't redirect to your G+ profile (yet?), and in fact your site links not only to your employer in an ad (you can't post your own ads here on G+, leave that to the pros), you're apparently putting together an internet community at that appears to have contributor guidelines that are its own ( rather than Google's, and you appear to make use of things like RSS, embedding widgets of your choosing, including Twitter lists...

Oh, and "All building43 content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 License." as indicated at the bottom of each of the pages there. That's convenient, but you're better off going with Google's license, right?

As long as you're participating in these illicit behaviors and projects (and I'm guessing this doesn't scratch the surface), I call BS on this rant. Let's see some 301 redirects.
it is not either or. It is everything and beyond.
+Dan Hugo Why would he be so stupid and move sites around? The people who read his blog are other people as the ones reading here are other people who read him on facebook (with a few crossovers). Why on earth should he switch one of for another? Instead he does the only logical thing the be at all the relevant places, without discrimination. You forgot btw twitter in your list of things.

Twitter is neither google nor facebook but it will be the network of choice when an event like sxsw comes around - acompanied by the other site for the different purposes.
Right, +Nicole Simon, that's why the rant, ie

Me? I really don’t care anymore. I’m locked into Vic Gundotra’s trunk where Google+ has helped me get 400,000 followers since July 1st last year alone. That’s, what, seven months? Did RSS ever do that for me? Did Dave Winer’s systems ever do that for me? Did John Battelle ever put me on stage to help me out? No way.It’s too late.

I’m not going back to the open web. Why? The juice isn’t there.

don't match up with what +Robert Scoble is actually doing.

From his comment (On his site, to one Van Duong) he says

_Today? I've given up and am living mostly inside the data black holes. In 2008? I saw that Facebook was sucking data in but not letting it escape. That was the right time to fight before it really got the mainstream addicted. Today? It's too late. _

"Giving Up" something means forgoing it. You yourself have just said the same thing I did... despite this rant, he's actually using everything available, which I'm totally fine with.
Come on +Robert Scoble and everyone... Unless you're a student or only utilise public wifi its never free!

Im all for net neutrality and against stupid profits - cap them! - I do understand why, say, 100mps (and more...) do have BOTH useful and less-than-legal uses.

But if you want say 50mbs over 25mbs it should be a sensible pricing structure.

As for Scoble, never seen his work apart from in articles etc, so this is the only place ive added him. And I ownly joined this because it was quick and easy :D
Closed silos make the open web more valuable. How? By gathering audiences/communities, and providing distribution for open web content.

But if you think distribution on the web is bad, check out the games films have to play with studios or stores have to play with malls.
Robert's experience with Facebook and Plaxo aside, what about apps like +ThinkUp and Singly that allow you to download the data you and your friends put into these services? I've had my own ThinkUp instance for over a year and lately have been using the LockerProject to slurp my data via Twitter, Google, Facebook et al's API.
Google+ too shall pass. The web is more resilient than you give it credit for.
+Robert Scoble, I understand my data is worth money to Facebook, however I'm not wanting to remove it from there, only to be able to use it somewhere else, outside the browser/app.

A simple example is if I want to call someone from my Facebook friends list. This should be a trivial problem, but it isn't. Because Facebook walls its information about you off, it becomes exceedingly difficult to contact someone on Facebook outside of the Facebook platform.

Sure, Facebook would probably prefer you do all your socialising inside Facebook. But in a way, their cautious approach to allowing users to share their details across platforms leads to only the very shallow social interactions on Facebook. Because I can't use Facebook as a contact details repository, I generally don't interact with my closest friends and family via that platform. Maybe that's the business model they want, and if it is, it's certainly working for them. But the harder they make it to get data out the less likely people come to rely on them as a place to put data in.

I think it leaves them very open to challenges from competitors that are more open with their data, and as such integrate themselves more fundamentally into people's lives.
Anyone notice that google's data liberation twitter feed has gone dark?
What we need is for Facebook / G+ etc. to adopt the work being done by the Semantic Web community and the Federated Social Web XG and open the "walled gardens." OR we need new platform(s) to emerge that do so, and for those platforms to supplant Facebook and the other centralized, dictatorial platforms.
Why cannot rackspace and other cloud vendors demonstrate some competition to amazon and others. My company works on making a more efficient cloud storage and data clouds. Are there any cloud vendors interested? Aim should be to bring down the cost to 1/100 of amazon cloud.
I have never read something so sad.

We love the open nature of the web but it's sad that for the most part we're not willing to vote with our wallets.

The future of the web is in doubt as the information brokers of today (Be they Publishers, Studios or "Artists") strive to make the web a slightly more chaotic version of cable TV with the commercially compelling addition of "social" (Whatever that designation may imply)
Great post, Robert. Wish things had played out differently back in 2008. So bummed at how few people rallied to your/our side at the time.
+Nicole Simon, Facebook mastered the social web because they most accurately mirrored what social relationships were like offline. However, there are many interactions their policy of data lockout shuts off. This opens up an opportunity for a competitor to take what Facebook has done and improve it.
+MG Sexton People don't succeed in the market for morally superiority -- Facebook is king precisely because of their willingness to engage in ostensibly unethical behavior.
I'm not arguing a moral case. Their decision to lock data within their platform prevents greater sharing. Why would I add details about myself if I knew that those details wouldn't help my friends and family get in contact with me better?
+MG Sexton Well, presumably because Facebook's various mechanisms have conditioned you to give over otherwise personal data for reasons ranging from because they can be "trusted" to perfectly legitimate reasons like helping friends find you online (Despite the fact that they have semi-conclusively proven their interests lie precisely polar opposite to user's).
My solution: I manually post to all platforms. Wish there was a simple automatic way to do it.
This has very little to do with privacy and walled gardens, but +Robert Scoble talking about modems made me think back to the days of first doing all you can with Dr. DOS (I think that was what it was called) and autoexec.bat files to get your computer to have all the free RAM it can to run games and then playing Falcon 3.0 with a friend over a 2400 baud modem connection. Ahh...those were the days (days when the outcome of the mission was vastly different usually on both computers).
Sorry +Zephyr Pellerin, but how have I been brainwashed? I trust Google with my data the same way I trust my bank with my money, my mechanic with my car, and my butcher/greengrocer with my food. Have they all brainwashed me too? I have a job because my employer trusts me with its capital. Have I brainwashed them?

If +Tim O'Reilly is correct in saying that data is the new currency, then the 'Google is a bank' analogy is the most apt. The most important thing however is that I can 'cash out' my data when I need to, which Google lets me do.

Facebook is like a bank that doesn't allow you to withdraw cash. This is fine, I could use a bank and rely on debit and credit cards, as well as internet banking for over 90% of my transactions. But let's say I need cash. Such a bank would be terribly inconvenient. Why would I stick with such a bank that doesn't cover all of my possible monetary needs?

Facebook is incredibly popular now, but what happens when people have a data emergency? They need to call someone quickly. Facebook won't do. They've lost their treasured photos in a hard drive failure or fire. Facebook won't do.

Maybe these things won't happen to enough people to cause concern. But I already know of people who have shared less because of the fear that putting it on Facebook means you might never be able to retrieve it in the future.
+Robert Scoble actually I would very much prefer if you always posted your content at your normal RSS blog and then just span links back to it into all networks (like on Twitter).

It would make scrolling through my G+ timeline much more efficient because I wouldn't have to scroll 10km in order to skip one of your posts :)
[edit -- I was wrong, you can link to FB posts! -- the link is hidden on the post time of all places.]
It doesn't look to me like anyone has yet mentioned one huge difference between G+ and FB posts: G+ makes it easy to link directly to any public post (little triangle drop-down menu). Links go out of G+ and they can come back in. And you don't have to be logged in to see such a post. This does a lot less damage to the traditional web model than FB does.

Unless I've missed some way to link to FB posts -- please correct me if so! AFAICT all your many "share" options on FB are just various ways of re-posting within FB.
+Ninja On Rye Yes! How did you do that? Ohh I see -- of course! You click on the text that says "7 hours ago" ... now why didn't I think of that?
it's not too late, the government should legislate. +Robert Scoble I'm surprised John Battelle only started to speak against this now. for someone who wrote a book about google, it took him that long to realise the web is becoming freaking siloed and search engines reach is being squeezed.
+Bill Baxter Yep, it's the same as the g+ method, right? From what I can recall, it's been in FB for quite some time, but I don't know when exactly they implemented it.
Ah, didn't realize that either. G+ has another way which is the one I've been using -- the little triangle-in-circle drop-down menu has a "Link to this post" item. A little more discoverable, perhaps, than a link on something seemingly completely unrelated.
The irony in +Robert Scoble s point is the constant hint that Google will federate Google+ and move it to being focused on open standards.

Google+ right now is the only major social network that supports OpenID, XMPP federation, sharing with non-users via email, and they even plan to open up Hangouts for 3rd party networks (source:

I'm sure they won't open up Hangouts without having some plans to open up the rest of the network at some point.

I think the reason why they haven't done these things from day 1 is user experience, sadly more open standards don't have user experience in mind so I've the feeling that the Google+ team is thinking of a way to open up without turning this into a spam network over night. I mean they won't even open up the API to allow for 3rd party apps to post anything.

Plus (no pun intended) Google Buzz was meant to be an open and federated social network. In the developer docs Google had a section talking about all of the open standards they planned to support in the future like Activity Streams, Salmon, WebFinger and so on. So I'm sure these features (or similar alternative features) are still in the plans.

EDIT: And another thing, the apps in Hangouts and Google+ Games are based on the same gadget technology found in iGoogle, OpenSocial and Wave.
Ever since the web was invented there has been a strong need by the ordinary everyday user for a central "home" to know what's going on and to find out if they're missing out on anything. Yahoo made a good go of it for a while but became big, fat and lazy and had it stolen from them by smaller, smarter more nimble startups.
Facebook et al have filled that need to a large degree and no amount of protesting or agitation four years ago would have made the slightest difference. The people get what the people want and they want to be "in".
it is not just too late to save the open web, it is too late to save earth's ecosystem too. We are headed for a meltdown. Can't do anything, just have to let it go and ride the changes and hope we survive the transition.
Your thoughts on open web is the way forward.But history repeats it self.
The open web is a philosophy which transcends any specific technology. I like your point about making what you post public, although I never considered it a protest. Information wants to be free. I personally believe that the control that the giants appear to have is perhaps not as impressive as it seems. Their services give us the ability to share information with whomever we please and if that is ever taken away In the paraphrased words of Star Wars, "The more they(google, facebook etc.) tighten their grip, the more information will slip through their fingers."
Considering the massive backlash over privacy on social networks, good luck convincing people to make their data public for the good of the greater web. As you say, it means nothing to them.
i think your a bit uneducated when you talked about the sopa and how you would have supported it. the sopa act was absolutely terrible a rediculous. it would have brought the internet to its knees. i think the internet is fine heading in the direction it is.
Imagine, +Steve Gillmor the Groucho Marx of the Web banishing you from Facebook! I'm really enjoying the image of you locked in +Vic Gundotra's trunk, can't wait to see the video!
Robert, why not lobby for your G+ posts to get URLs on a domain you own, even if Google-hosted? Apps-for-domains is v much in that territory anyway. 
> Google+ has helped me get 400,000 followers since July 1st last year alone. That’s, what, seven months? Did RSS ever do that for me?

I don't quite get RSS bashing. Show me a better way to read 400 sites a day and I'll use it. And Flipboard probably does use RSS to aggregate..RSS is the transfer medium for much of our content.

I completely agree with Scoble that we shouldn't hide our data. Just about everything I have on Facebook is open to all.

So why is Scoble not allowed scrape his data from Facebook while many apps he authorizes can?
+Bob Morris You are right... Same here... I cannot think of any other service where I can follow so many websites so quickly... But I guess we are high minority... most people just spend time on social networks itself and at max have a few websites that they visit, hence do not require rss reader
I don't follow the inclusion of Google next to Facebook. As +Jake Weisz said, "with the amount of Google+ posting that's public, the fact that Google+ posting is indexed in search, and that Google heavily promotes it's data liberation feature, do you really consider Google one of those data black holes?"

Everything I put into Google, be it on G+ or Docs or wherever, I can easily take back out. Google not only allows this (unlike the companies you listed them with), they actively support it and advertise it. How then does that put them in the same company?
The fact that it's called the "common web" and needs to be referred to differently than FB and Google shows that it is a lost cause. Kudos to you +Robert Scoble for not fighting the impossible. (Once upon a time the same was true of Compuserve and AOL.)
Wait, I thought we could take whatever out of Google what we put in. ~confused~
2008 might have been when you first noticed it, but I suspect that, by then, it was already too late.
+Ganesh Nayak Plus people can read blog posts on Facebook, and those come via RSS too.

But Scoble's basic point is right. Walled gardens are going up everywhere.
All my posts have been, and always will be public. I just deactivated my facebook account to get some time away. But then again, look where I am now?
It's really important that people have this conversation, but also important to 1. keep it in long term perspective. Check out Tim Wu's "The Master Switch" or Rebecca McKinnon's "Consent of the Networked." 2. never say die! Go ahead, Join Diaspora (, get on, switch from the walled gardens to the free/libre alternatives, and if you're a developer/designer, help make them more user friendly so we can get critical mass.
You are so right, Robert, anonymous people are a bunch of worthless morons...

"I am Spartacus"
- Anonymous
+Robert Scoble - You've raised some really important points in this post, and I am going to answer them as clearly as I can, but via an new post due to response length. Anyway quick summary:

1. Digital Identity matters.

2. Existing standards are (have always been) in place for functional Digital Identity controlled by Users.

3. Structured Data Matters -- squabbling over syntax (e.g., RSS vs RDF vs Microformats etc..) are expensive an avoidable distractions.

4. Personal Data Spaces are the inevitable next frontier, the only variable is time.

5. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft etc.. aren't to blame, they are simply building and executing business models --- users have to understand there's no such thing as a "free lunch" and "ignorance != bliss" when dealing Identity and Privacy matters on the InterWeb.


1. - my post holding a longer response to this matter

2. -- posts from the past on G+ re. this thorny issue of user centric identity .
+Robert Scoble -- "not caring" is contradictory, you care, hence this post :-) What you needs is your own portable profile data, seeded in your own personal data space. Of course, you need solutions that make this happen without distracting you with low level network infrastructure details. It's the delay on this front that's leading to the dispair many feel about the emergence of cathedral-like silos on the Web.
Robert, my sense is that you skim and don't read these comments, but here goes anyway. By putting yourself instead of the issue at the center, you opened yourself up for criticism. Technically you violated the terms, but that is not the issue!

The bigger issue is about the open web, your personal experiences and "told-you-so"s are fun to read by unfortunately they cloud what's really important.

If you do feel strongly, like I do, that this is an important issue then you will continue to air the issue in a non-personal way so that you can galvanize support.

The people at Hacker News are good people, just like you!
I have a radical theory about why Facebook, and other walled gardens are winning the war.

It's not convenience (though that helps)

It's SAFETY. When you open things in facebook, you know you're not likely to get a virus. You've got a URL, it's well worn into the tracks of your browser's cache, and it just works. You don't have to risk your computer each and every time you click a link, you don't have to be paranoid about opening attachments, because there aren't any. It's all pre-screened, and filtered down to the right size to see on your display.

It's now coming about that even cell phones get targeted with polymorphic virii... which may make even the "app store" model unsafe in short order.

Everything is driven by the need to not risk your computer at every turn. The current model underlying all operating systems, even those in "devices" is still modeled on Unix model of thinking the program is the user. This is still unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.

The relative freedom of the app store is now doomed, as was the freedom of the heyday of shareware.

I've been saying this in many ways, and the time isn't yet right for a large receptive audience, but we need to fundamentally rethink how operating systems decide what to allow. The capability security model is the only way to get back to the good old days, and allow experimenting.... but the market isn't ready yet. (Heck, I'm writing this on a Windows 7 laptop, I'M not even ready yet)
This reminds me of a book I read last year The Master Switch in which economist Tim Wu looked at cycles of disruption and openness followed by periods of centralization and monopoly (or oligopoly). The cycle happened with the telegraph, the telephone, television and film. The book ended asking the question whether the Internet would be any different--being built for openness. As I watch Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon locking up the web, it looks like the cycle is continuing.

It also reminds me of +Jonathan Zittrain 's The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It book. We've seen this coming for a long time. I don't know what can be done to stop it at this point except wait for / work toward the next creative disruption that will break the system open again.

I think there may be hope in emerging technologies like open source hardware, 3D printing, etc. and I'm teaching my kids how to program and about these movements so that they don't grow up in a world thinking everything has to be made for them.
I hate to write this, but it's a good thing it's on G+, your blog can't be accessed right now from where I am (although I read the post via Instapaper earlier today)...
There is a part of your argument I agree with and that I really want to share with you +Robert Scoble. Even if we can't save the open web, we need to save OPEN DISCUSSION.

I have been fighting for a way to "federate" comments since I ran my first BBS... And it was EASIER then... Remember FIDOnet? You could post on one member BBS, and within 12 hours it would post to every member BBS? That was 1992!!

Here it is 20 years later, and we have taken a step BACKWARDS. I post on my website, I crosspost it to the other SNSs like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. I get major comments on those networks, and none ever come back to my original post.

Oh sure, I run wordpress, and there's plugins that will bring tweets with the URL back in as comments.. but how about replies to those tweets? or if I reply to the comment on my site, can the tweeter see it? And Facebook? forget about it! There's one plug in in particular that works sproadically, but all it takes is for Facebook to change its API and it's curtains... and they change APIs as much as I change underpants.

We already have things like Pingbacks that can tell when and where a posting from my blog was reshared elsewhere on the web-- we could use part of that system to discover reshared content and then cross-broadcast comments maybe?

The web is about discovery, cognition, and discussion. We need a protocol based on RSS/REST/cURL/SOMETHING to propagate comments from these far-flung reaches of the net back to their OPs.
The PublishSync chrome plugin is great for cross-posting to/from Twitter, Facebook and G+. While I wouldn't call it protest as +Robert Scoble suggested in his post, making all (or most) data public means that I can engage with friends and the public wherever they like, rather than solidifying a monopoly position for any particular company. Unfortunately, no solution exists (nor likely is possible at this time) at the 3rd party level. Perhaps when Google expands its posting API, Twitter or Facebook will provide broadcasting to it. I'm sure the 3rd party apps will all add G+ to their docket.
At this point this G+ post has 189 +1'es and 139 comments, while the blog post has 45 disqus likes and 112 comments. [continues eating popcorn]
I still hold out hope. all you need is one service to freely accept input and output and it will win out in the end as people add things on to it. Dinosaurs, while they roamed dominantly, still fell. Popularity too might squash these services under their own load (and spam) too - like ancient cities that ran out of food. They can never be as distributed as the whole web. When +Dave Winer shut off comments it gave me an idea for how to fix commenting. It's on a comment on this post:
What the geeks never have understood about normal people's aversion to the common web is that they view even public data as in a context and that context is important to them. I know that some device could slurp up my Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter etc. data and post it all in a composite profile or something like Spokeo. But I don't want that to happen. I want each of those walled gardens even if I put my news feed on "public" with them to respect the walls. I don't want a Twitter feed on LinkedIn so I don't opt to put it there, etc. etc. People want to chose the contexts for their public data and they will do this in spite of the best efforts of the technocommunists like Dave Winer to break down walls on them.

P.S. Scoble, if I'm in your friendship list and gave you my data for Facebook, that doesn't mean that you can export it to Plaxo and then use it whatever, give it to Rackspace to mine or who knows. That's the problem. I want opt-in to your exportation process and I can't get it if you are "liberating" your Facebook friend list.
@Mara Alexander, um, "the masses" like me studied OpedID and worked with it many times. It often didn't work. It was balky and stupid. You'd plug it in to a Wordpress blog somebody had and it still wouldn't work to let you comment. If you criticized anything about it, the thin-skin devs screamed. Meanwhile, while they were fighting among themselves and putting up wonky user instructions that were unnecessarily complicated -- or none at all -- Facebook just came along and made one-click signup for users, and a simple cut-and-paste script for web owners and voila, it was all over.
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