As a long time user of The Internet, who started in the very old clunky day of the mid-nineties when we all thought Excite Chat was really cool, I must admit that the feeling of freedom and independence it gave is slowly fading away. Gone are the pioneers who battled away night and day building a website using Microsoft Frontpage and battling the snail’s pace of a 28k modem.
Long gone are the 50 meter long telephone cables connecting our first portable IBM laptops. Also long gone are the awfully expensive prices we paid simply to be connected. One good thing. Back then, Yahoo and Excite were the biggies and no one had heard of Google yet. Apple was there of course, but it was a bit of an Internet dud because Apple’s of that era couldn’t talk to PC’s. At least this language barrier has been broken.
Yes, it was all clunky, fuzzy and unreliable, but boy it was fun and one could proudly boast that you were a ‘Surfer on The Web’ and emailing while your dinosaur friends were still faxing.
So now we take it all for granted and The Internet has become our source of music, books, movies, television, games, news, correspondence and of course, shopping. It is this last feature that was the game changer. From connectivity to corporate. From popular to profit. From mavericks to monopolies.
The Internet is now owned by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and Apple. All fighting tooth and nail to extract every last cent of profit from users – and content providers. Think of Youtube, Amazon, Apple apps and iTunes. All of them accumulate either cheap or free content to on-sell, affix advertising and attract all of us – the market.
As an Indie author, I understand what an opportunity Amazon in particular have provided for me. However, they are not philanthropists or community volunteers, so I know they will make a healthy profit from my work. As all of the Big Tech companies now do.
There are still a few with the old independent spirit, but Wikipedia struggles for funding to stay alive (even though they use cost free labour) and Wikileaks? Well, we know about that saga. Bright and original ideas don’t last long before they are bought by the mega companies. Think Youtube, Skype et al.
Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. Have fun on the new, improved and multi-nationally monopolized Internet. But just remember to have your credit card ready at all times.