Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Centralized social networks ending as de-centrailized

There are plenty of articles written on the social network and what plagues them and definitely they will fail as is evident from the recent activities of these behemoths. I have seen people enter their most private information while creating a f*&$book profile as though they are filling up and admission form for college, as though they were to be awarded a lottery without winning. Humans want to belong but at the same time want individuality which I will not try to dwell into since I cannot and leave it to the philosophers. The public network is all about discovering content. The content as envisaged by the pioneers of the public network are linked files. Now to get to that particular linked file the search engines did the homework continuously day and night to have a dictionary of all the links on the public network. Tools were created so that people with minimum computer language added on the links and create sub links and so on.... Now the question is to monetize this situation. Since the Public network was designed to be open and not to be controlled by any single individual/corporation it was difficult. Thus was born the concept of advertisements. This was to put a layer on top of the basic web so as to lock the user out and provide a virtual screen between the content the user wants and the user in front of the computer screen. The user sees the advertisement or the popup and then he is allowed access to the content.

The public did work around this problem by making ad blockers/pop up blockers so that the user gets direct to the content. Now here again we are into two kinds of content creation strategies. Content creation on the public network for the fun of it/use of others and the other is for monetizing every glance a user throws on the content. The second group had no option but to lock the user out completely until he removes all the tools used for blocking ads/pop ups or request the use to allow ads and also consume the content. The second group of content creators were not happy with the situation. Enter social networks. In the beginning stage of the social network boom, users were mostly sharing links to their friends. This was still a healthy situation since these links were still available to the general public without any virtual walls. Trouble started brewing when the people who were sharing links they had created or others had created started creating content on the social network itself. Now this content got locked up within the social network. You cannot share these links with the general public and goes out of scope of search engines. This yielded itself to all sorts of monetization. This also created an artificial beehive where people swarmed to taste the new content created and shared.

Complete wedding albums, Family photographs, Friends photographs, photographs of houses, offices all uploaded with gay abandon to the social network. The network grew in al directions to hoard all this precious content. The content which people were not ready to put up for public consumption and for selective sharing. The same was now available to the social network. The social network is not in vaccum. It is a machine. It has to be maintained. It has to be checked for faulty components. It has to be updated/upgraded. Where does money for all this come from. It has to come from the users. But the users definitely will not pay. They would move to an alternate option or some individual/group might have created a free alternative. Think email.

So how would the user pay. He will pay in ways and means he will not know. The social network will make money from the content created without telling the content creator about these ideas. Why because the content creator is still a human being for whom sharing is at his heart.The thing with content creators is they want to reach the maximum number of consumers. They thought that the social network was the best way they can have this reach. The second level is the metadata of the members which has been collected over the years. The metadata, first and foremost includes the content and then all the other personal aspects of the creator. This combined with the personal aspects of the consumer can be extrapolated to target further creators and consumers. it is all about connecting the creators and consumers and keep them within this walled garden. Then start monetizing. The problem here is corporations also become content creators and the content can be created as though it has been created  by and individual which in turn carries more following. There is always content created to satisfy the need of the consumers rather than the urge of the creator. This is the most dangerous content.

The content, the creators and the consumers create such vast amount of data, the uses of which are impossible to gauge. It is difficult to tell what would be the uses of this data. It is limited only by the capabilities of the researcher. With the amount of computation power at our finger tips, the limits are endless. The trouble with this walled garden is that the monetizer is himself within the walled garden. He is already having an insider view and the holistic view would be provided by the social network data centers. This give a 360 degree view of any individual in this walled garden. You can throw ads at him, You can control his timeline. You can control the reach of his content and what not. Censoring content is most easy here. Since the user don't have any control over the working of this social networking machine. Censoring can happen influenced by big corporations, wealthy individuals, chauvinistic nations etc.

At a time where we have to decide the meaning of privacy, these walled gardens are not helping the cause. People don't know the value of privacy which is similar to the concept of freedom. The main issue is that this is too much of data in the hand of one corporation. How about the content creator owning his content and provide documented ways to access it. Welcome to the de-centralized social network. Think mastodon, Pleroma, peertube etc..

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Nobody can deter me away from "free as in freedom" concept seeded by Sri RMS. See to it that u dont make fun of my belief. If u think otherwise, no need to comment.