More powerful than a state
Don’t get me wrong — I admire services and companies I (nearly) mention in this article. They triggered changes in the society that are important. They create amazing things (design practices, programming libraries etc.) and share them for free. And they offer amazing services.
But at some point, they become too big. Too “organised to generate money and protect and grow their already massive market share”.
With hundreds of millions of users, they are bigger and most powerful than most countries. In fact, they constitute kind of absolutistic monarchy in the virtual land.
It’s not their fault. Because we are not their customers (we don’t pay them). We create value for them and they sell this cumulative value to advertisers.
You may say: “It’s ok”.
But some (many) of us live their digital lives within these services.
“I own my content” you may say.
Hmmm, sort of. You can download your photos, posts or videos. But you cannot easily download the relationships and connections.
You own (some of) your data, but you are not in control of the access to them and to the services. You cannot do what you want (like post to the service from different application at some services).
In the extreme case, you may be blocked at all to use the service. What would you (and what can you) do if that happens? Who knows…
Their service, their rules.
It’s ok if you are aware of it.
But what if you rely on them in some sense? Your business, your connections with friends. I already stated — their services are great.
In the real world, you have your rights and you can protect them. There is a constitution, there are laws.
Not with these services. They define the rules.
I’m living in EU and still remember communist regime. That’s why I’m the last one who would call for state regulation.
No, I’m sure that the technology and great visionaries will come with “something”. Ideas, wild and crazy, are coming up in my mind.
Open source democratised the powerful tool the software is.
Internet democratised the access to information and (I hope) it still is not owned by anyone.
Will our digital lives be owned by a handful of companies?
No, they won’t.
This is another disruption we are waiting for. We will take back our identity and life and get them under our (imperfect but humble) control.