Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.


In December, “grandpa” Anil Dash reminisced about the web we lost:

This isn’t some standard polemic about “those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!” I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They’re amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they’re based on a few assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

Marco Arment is also questioning that paradigm, with the shutdown of Google Reader:

Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything. While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing through it, it conflicted with their far more important Google+ strategy: they need everyone reading and sharing everything through Google+ so they can compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.

We log into some services now with Facebook or Twitter instead of a unique user name and password combination. We share with little buttons to social networks rather than to our blogs, or via email. All of this is easier to implement than the older methods (“just link to this Javascript and magic happens”), but at the expense of lock-in. That’s a big price to pay for the future of the web. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.