Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gated internet

This is an article about the dominance of "gated" communities in the internet, meaning platforms like Facebook or iPhone apps that screen and shape users' experience online.  The article shares recent study results that show that a large percentage of newer internet users in the developing world are accessing these closed platforms and not the open internet ("open" meaning the full range of sites available if you have a browser and an internet connection), and sometimes they don't even know that they are on the internet.  Why does this matter?  Because if the free exchange of ideas is limited to or dominated by platforms controlled by private companies, that exchange can never be completely free.  The type of stuff most of us do on Facebook tends to be frivolous and superficial, which is fine if you know that there is a wider online world out there where you can consult news, academic work, open-source information, business and government and NGO websites, etc.  But if you don't even know that the internet can do anything for you beyond Farmville and status updates, then your possibilities of doing worthwhile, noble, and even great things is going to be severely limited.

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