File Under: Web Basics

The Disneyfication of Tech

Truth is this — users are caught between tech and media. Neither of them is looking out for our interest. Each of them own politicians each owns tech. The tech industry is better at tech (no surprise) and the media industry is better at a lot of other things, including getting Congress to do their bidding.

I’ve been warning the news publishers to be careful about viewing Twitter and Facebook as if they were equivalent to the web. This would be like Kodak trusting Apple to handle its digital photography strategy. We know now how that turned out.

Twitter and Facebook are rich and getting richer. Either of them could easily buy a struggling but independent news organization. Then where would you be if you were dependent on them to distribute news? It would be like the Times depending on Murdoch to print their daily paper. Instead the Times invested in their own printing plant, presumably so they could have better control of the product, both from a creative and tactical standpoint. If Murdoch owned the presses and the trucks, who do you think would deliver the most timely news? They have to think about Twitter that way. At some point they will come to see themselves as a media company, if they don’t already.

Caught in the middle is the original idea of the Internet and the web, that people could be media instead of just consuming it. For that to continue, enough people have to see their future as publishing independently, and enough people have to read independently of corporate media, neither originating from Silicon Valley or Hollywood, to keep the flame alive.

I still hope that there’s a remnant of the idealism of tech. That there was value in the personal-ness of PCs. The net is the same way. We need to make it ever-easier for people to own and run their own infrastructure. People think it’s hard, but it doesn’t have to be! Each of us can have the equivalent of a printing plant, that’s the magic of tech. No harder to keep running than a laptop. To those people in tech who still hold to the ideal of free communication unrestricted by government or corporations, please use some of your profits to help guarantee the future of an independent Internet.

Otherwise, I think we can all see this clearly now, the net will be a single amorphous Disneyfied mess, not too far down the road.

This post first appeared on Scripting News.

Dave Winer, a former researcher at NYU and Harvard, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software. A former contributing editor at Wired magazine, Dave won the Wired Tech Renegade award in 2001.
Follow @davewiner on Twitter.