Ryan Holmes, the CEO of HootSuite asked the question: “Is social media killing the Web?” recently and presented a valid argument to support a positive answer. However, the answer is debatable. Has social media killed the Internet or has social media just forced the Internet to evolve (and us along with it)?
“The Internet is a place where any person can share information with anyone else, anywhere.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Founder, Internet.
Holmes presents the argument that social media has compartmentalized data and information, which is just the opposite of what its founding father intended. Sites like Facebook and Google+ create islands that effectively “wall off” content from the rest of the Internet. We used to have RSS readers and services like Google Reader, but they’re disappearing in favor of social networks like Twitter and Reddit.
“The treasure trove of content posted and shared within Facebook, for instance, is largely invisible outside of Facebook. Google can’t crawl it. Only select services can tap into it.” – Ryan Holmes
An open and free Web, well, sort of.
Berners-Lee’s notion of an open and free Web might be as old-fashioned as corsets and bloomers. The business of the Internet – like any business – requires monetization. Without monetization there is no Internet, however lofty its ideals might be.
Holmes quips that RSS feeds like Google Reader have not been successful because they’re are hard to monetize. If they were, they’d still be around. Instead, social networks – and many of the Web sites we turn to for news – are walling themselves off and controlling the flow of content in order to keeps us on their sites longer and sharing more information, which translates to more ad revenue.
Read Ryan Holmes’s full article here.
The Internet has become unwieldy and the content shared is noisy and riddled with duplication, spam, and unqualified or erroneous content. The use of private RSS tools allows individuals to filter the noise and get the best of the Internet in manageable pieces. Increasingly, social networks are limiting the APIs they make available to 3rd party content aggregators, which is designed to keep people on their sites.
I’m not sure if one can argue causation or correlation here, but it’s clear that the public is steadily turning to social networks as its primary source for information, which begs the questions:
- Are we less informed that we were previously?
- Are we self-imposing a filtered view of the world by fixating on these networks?
- What is the cost we pay for free content?
Sensei Debates: Has social media killed the Internet or has social media just forced the Internet to evolve? Add your thoughts in the comments below. Also, the #bizforum weekly debate on Twitter will deal with this topic tonight at 8 PM Eastern time if you want to argue your views with other business professionals in real time.
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