[Air-L] Privacy Buzz
air-l at njw.me.uk
Wed Feb 17 11:43:12 PST 2010
Quoth Zeynep Tufekci:
> 2- Many of these are natural monopolies; due to network externalities, it
> makes sense that there will be one big online auction space (Ebay), one big
> search engine (Google), one big social directory (Facebook), one big
> encyclopedia (Wikipedia), etc.
What do you mean by network externalities here? For some things like
search, I'd tend to agree that centralisation is a simpler fit, but
most applications I can think of, a good example being
facebook-style 'social networking,' could work much better in a
decentralised distributed way. Of course facebook is here now, and
good P2P tools using for example FOAF & SSL & RSS aren't so much,
but I certainly don't think it's the case that centralisation is
inevitable for most things.
Indeed the model of the web that Zuckerberg envisages (with a few
tweaks, such as removing facebook as intermediary), in which people
use their extended online network more than eg google / ebay /
craigslist to find information / products / services, makes
decentralis[ed/able] networks more central (excuse the pun) still.
By virtue of its copyright licensing, wikipedia also somewhat avoids
the problems of monopoly. The 'freedom to fork,' while far from
perfect, significantly mitigates a lot of the problems with other
It's relevant to note that yesterday I listened to the recording of
Eben Moglen's recent talk on freedom & the cloud (
) and as always he's heavily influenced my thinking.
As opposed to an earlier comment which suggested that many people
were just apathetic about various sorts of personal data being
aggregated and sold, I think the scope of what's possible and being
done is largely just poorly understood. So the problem isn't so much
apathy as ignorance.
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