Software in 2011 is so depressing. Isn’t the Google Plus +1 obviously the same thing as the Facebook Like and the Reddit upvote and the Digg digg and so on? Didn’t we learn anything with all the decades battling vendor fragmentation? Where’s the open standard for “liking” URLs? What about the one for facebook/plus/twitter/reddit/
reader/tumblr “share”? And the gold star/fav/save? Why can’t I make a single operation that’s replicated (or indexed) by all these sites? Why is Plus so locked-in that it lacks even RSS feeds? Didn’t anyone notice we’re essentially reinventing RSS a few hundred times with every shiny new “2.0” site? Why +1s can make an URL rank higher on Google Search, but likes or upvotes can’t?
Free software is dead; the killer was not Windows, wasn’t even the OSI, but the centralized Web model. Today almost no “social” software lets you self-host your own data; big corporate wants very hard, and active strives to, host and own complete access to every single piece of work; and almost all of these hosting sites runs on non-free, hidden code. This model has made it natural for companies to try to force people to live inside the fences of each company’s own little turf, eroding the base feature of the web as a network—interconectedness. Hypertext as the engine of application state becomes more and more a pipe dream (want the best interface to our site? buy our Android app!). Every company becomes a verb and “the” place to host some kind of work—we don’t publish notes, videos, or pictures on our domains, we tweet, youtube, flickr. Vendor lock-in is the norm, planned obsolescence the standard, embrace-and-extend a routine operation, and no one even bats an eye at news of the latest buy-and-bury aggressive acquisition.
Every company has become Microsoft. I actually feel a little guilty for the times we used to pick on MS as “evil”; by today’s standards, its flavor of capitalism feels almost quaint.