Slaves to anarchy
In the beginning...
The Internet was designed for anarchy. It bypassed countries. Corporations were ignorant of it. Anyone with a modem could visit a telescope in Italy without buying an airplane ticket or look at dirty pictures without having to trudge to the nearby corner store.
(I still have Wired magazine issue #2, which featured masked anarchists on the cover, while inside editors mocked MacDonalds for being willfully clueless that some little guy had snatched up the macdonalds.com domain.)
With Web 2.0, the Internet became corporatized. Wired magazine, too. Those who once sang praises to the obvious goodness of The Network Effect today find themselves stumbling over stanzas 3 and 4.
2018 will mark the year Google and Facebook flipped from benign providers of information and communities to becoming Microsoft version 2.0, Evil Incarnate. Every week -- every week! -- new scandals splay across the the pages of Tech-meme as the technorati tweet their collectivist outrage over Yet Another Privacy Invasion. It wasn't supposed to have become like this.
So, it's easy to muse what-if. Like this thought from earlier in the week:
Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to.
True. But any other company that ended up owning the Web becomes would have become just as envious of our privacy; c.f. Facebook.
The thing is that young people don't know that Microsoft in the 1990s was headed the same way with its break-the-Web Internet Explorer browser and accompanying IIS server software. In the long run, the corporation's attempt to put the Internet under its heel failed, as incompatibilities introduced by Microsoft turned around and bit it. Be thankful for the folks behind Firefox who pluckily overcame the convicted monopolist.
During that time when it still thought it could control the Internet, Microsoft even had the first version of SSO (single sign-on) for its Web properties. Oh, the ruckus, the horror, the robe-tearing the day Microsoft announced it. It backed off. With SSO, Microsoft could have conceivably collected so much more data about each one of us.
Goggle learned from that experience, and so slid SSO in silently, incrementally, and efficiently. More recently, it attempted the same tactic with Project Dragonfly, which it had been working on since 2008, it turns out. Project Dragonfly, Google's attempt to slide into the censor-rich Chinese search market of potentially 800 million Internet users, was exposed from inside. "Exposed," because the CEO had earlier proclaimed it was morally wrong for Google to work with a brutal dictatorship, and some of his employees had believed him.
In any firm, a tiny portion of employees are sufficiently horrified by corporate policy to speak up/whine. Normally, they go unheard. Now that Google has nearly 100,000 employees, it suffers/benefits from that tiny portion achieving a voice loud enough to effect change. Doubly so, as Google find its home in the woke San Francisco area.
'Course what the "Is Google wrong for the Web" article is referring to is other Google employees making slight changes to YouTube code forcing Microsoft's Edge browser to run slow. Very slowly. This occurred after Microsoft trumpeted that Edge was faster than Chrome. It was Grade 8 boys letting off a stinkbomb in the Grade 12 jock change rooms.
Thinking back to when those of us who refused to use Microsoft software, while our non-IE browsers stumbled over Web pages, we smirk. The Googlers paid back Microsoft for fiddling with Web code so that only its IE browser could work correctly. But now Microsoft has given up on its own Web engine for Edge, and will switch to the Chrome engine. With Microsoft making most of its income from the corporate sector, building a different Web browser is no longer the way to win sales.
So Google racks up another win. But by winning, it loses. Facebook, too:
"Back in the day you had the city, with a million homes and secrets, each protected by its own lock," says Richard Fernandez. "To burgle the city you had to pick a million locks. Now the data is behind a server with one ginormous lock. You only have to burgle one lock. No wait, they'll sell it to you."