For example, when blogging first blossomed, it was seen by its early enthusiasts not merely as a form of publishing but as a type of community-building. Our blog sites were our personal presence on the web, and we viewed ourselves as social. That’s why the “blogroll” was standard equipment on the early blogs; it was a list of blogs that constituted your bloggy neighborhood. You read those blogs, you commented on them, and they did the same to you. We supported one another emotionally, intellectually, and sometimes in the physical world.
The blogosphere did not scale. I believe that problem could have been solved. But then Facebook happened. In many ways, Facebook fulfilled the dream of blogging. It was fully social, came with sophisticated social-network maintenance tools, and was inviting even to those who didn’t like writing, didn’t have the free time to devote to it, and didn’t enjoy the self-assertion a daily blog requires. But my delight about Facebook is at best mixed for one crucial reason. We built the blogosphere ourselves. We wrote the posts, we linked to others, and what emerged was ours. At the time it stood in contrast to the content coming from the professional media. That content was written by them for us to consume. Blogs were ours.
Facebook is not ours. It’s theirs for us to use. Facebook is now a far better Roschian prototype of the Internet than old-fashioned blogs are. The fact that I resist that fact makes me a prototype of a sad old man…
If the new prototype of the Internet is not the Blogosphere but Facebook, then the argument that’s maintained me for 20 years has fallen apart. If users don’t come into contact with the Internet’s architecture, that architecture can’t shape them. If they instead deal almost exclusively with Facebook, then the conclusion of the Argument from Architecture ought to be that Facebook is shaping the values of its users. And Facebook’s values are not much like the Net’s.
I can’t tell you how much that first paragraph resonates. Things have changed.
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