I found this article deeply moving – The Web We Have to Save. It is about what we’ve lost moving from blogs to social media, by someone who went to jail for his blog in Iran.
I can remember the internet before social media. Even before AOL brought the vast unwashed masses online. The internet was a very different place. We have definitely lost something, which writer Hossein Derakhshan describes as being like the move from text to television:
But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication — nodes and networks and links — toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.
The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.
When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open an article. But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.
The danger of the stream is that we gravitate towards the most attention grabbing headlines, not the most trusted sources or relevant reading. It’s a junk food information diet.
How many people still use RSS? How many even know what RSS is? RSS allows you to subscribe to the writers you trust, rather then relying on a social networks algorithm to bring you what it (and it’s advertisers) thinks you should read. If you want to take control of your own stream, and get an RSS reader (mac/pc).
From the writers side – I own my own website. I can post whatever I want. On a social network, I could get banned if I share something deemed offensive – like a woman’s nipple or a graphic photo of the results of war. The algorithm might hide my posts from you, but if you save the link and come to my site, you’ll see it every time.