Wired has officially proclaimed the web to be dead. Not the internet, mind you, but the HTML, browser-driven world of dotcoms this and firefox that. Both us and ‘them’ are to blame, according to Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, but somehow, we’ve come back to the idea of a “curated” internet experience after roundly rejecting AOL and Earthlink less than a decade ago.
But perhaps even more than our willingness to sacrifice control for convenience is the business approach to the web. No longer do we have the frontier mentality, the lawless Wild West where anything went. The top 10 websites accounted for 75% of all web traffic in 2010. But as Anderson reminds us:
This was all inevitable. It is the cycle of capitalism. The story of industrial revolutions, after all, is a story of battles over control. A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others. It happens every time. [Emphasis in original].
Possibly the one upside to the increasing corporate control of our internet experience – and our complicity in that takeover – is that once the internet is locked down, we can finally start asking “what’s next?” Because that, too, is the story of industrial revolutions.