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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Web's Inventor, Disappointed with the current state of the Web

     
6:50 pm on Nov 2, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The web's inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee says he's "disappointed with the current state of the Web"
Sir Tim said his disappointment grew out of seeing the medium become less optimistic and lose some of its ability to empower individuals.

He also condemned the "concentration" of user communities in the hands of a few tech titans such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

[bbc.co.uk...]
10:55 am on Nov 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Me too. The web is no longer decentralised, but heavily centralised.

The problem is that both governments and bug business like it that way, and most people do not see the problem so there is little chance of change.
4:30 pm on Nov 4, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Weren't they saying exactly the same things about television about half a century back? Plus ça change, et cetera.
6:29 pm on Nov 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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It needs people such as Tim to make these calls, however, i'm sure it'll fall on deaf ears.
7:54 pm on Nov 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Apple and Microsoft have competition.. Amazon and Alibaba and Target have competition. Facebook will have competition as they self implode.

Google has no competition primarily due to its "play by our rules or we will burn you" policies.

Television had multiple networks. Television didn't tell you that you could not refer your customer to other customers through direct references through your own marketing materials. Television eventually got significant competition no longer making any network a monopoly.

It is exactly Tim Berners Lee that needs to start and continue these discussions.

Companies like Yelp (for example) could not startup in 2018 under the dominance of Google. And now you see Yelp struggling against Google because Google owns search. Google is the lynchpin that allows the internet to be abused. And since Google ignores most federal anti-trust and restraint of trade laws, this makes them the biggest crook on today's web.

Until the FTC starts enforcing current laws and levying massive fines, Google will continue to play its games getting away with everything from ignoring sexual harassment to restraining the basics of trade. This is not accusation.. Google flaunts it right in its own self published webmaster tools policies and guidelines.
4:20 pm on Nov 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Apple and Microsoft have competition..


Until you buy into their ecosystem. Then you are are locked in. Apple also has a monopoly (really a monopsony) on access to their customers (you cannot sell an iOS app outside the app store).

There is no sign of competition to Facebook, and any new entrant faces a huge problem dealing with the network effects.
5:36 pm on Nov 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I agree that it is less empowering to individuals because of how users tend to access the web these days. If we think back there was a fairly even playing field where we could build sites. People would then access them via their browser. Today it's amazing just how many people access online services without going anywhere near a browser.

Apps are close to taking the lions share of internet usage and there is really no way that smaller players can gain access to any of those users.

Mack.
7:50 pm on Nov 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Me too. It's the people. Preferences or taste apart: I've been seeing for years how usability and usefulness have become a dangerous product pleasing the fools who now love the magic bar, the blank line where they put whatever and some software or algorithm replies with what some company think they searched.

A lot of people only know "google", they even put the name of your website millions of times in the bar just to click on the search results. So many negative things to say nowadays.

I read somewhere...
what a shame, if you traveled back in time and tell people from the past,
how in the future we have powerful computers in our hands and desktops,
more powerful than the computers on satellites and space explorers reaching Jupiter...
all the knowledge of humanity at the tip of our fingers...
and we use it to say -LOL-,
send memes, conspiranoia or fake news,
not to mention -sign here- to save the whales
or worse, that you have to send something to your contacts or ELSE
some free service will become paid service...



So much bandwidth lost in stupidity
12:05 pm on Nov 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Helpful confirmation of what we have painfully engraved in our skin on a daily basis.
2:47 am on Nov 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The answer is simple, social media needs to embrace a rule that many forums have found actually works. Ban political talk completely.

Not only would a deeply divided country not be able to argue or say things for effect but big companies would not be able to buy opinion for their candidates. In short social media would cease to be a battlefield for your mind, at least when politics is concerned. Hey, it would end collusion too!

When every 2nd message is political it makes people angry and I don't suspect we have much time left to save social media, the (AI) bots are coming.
12:42 pm on Nov 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@JS_Harris +
Back in the USSR, how happy you are . . . .
1:31 am on Nov 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Television had multiple networks.

In the U.S., there were three major networks back in the day (in some markets, though, there was only one: I remember living in Western Colorado in the early '70s, and our town had only one channel.)

In many (most?) countries, there was only one network: the national broadcasting service.

Today, we have a plethora of TV channels, thanks to cable and satellite, and they're supplemented by Internet-based services like Netflix.

We also have millions (billions?) of Web sites to choose from. I'd say there's a lot more competition today than there was 50 years ago.
2:18 am on Nov 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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television
At its inception, television was touted as a wonderful new tool for education and enlightenment and All Good Things. It promptly turned into a means of entertainment aimed at the lowest common denominator. Hence the “plus ça change” and-so-on.

Imagine the enthusiastic predictions that would have been made 50 years ago if you had revealed that, 50 years down the line, ordinary humans would carry in their pockets a device with inconceivable computing power, capable of connecting to any place on earth.
2:33 pm on Nov 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The answer is simple, social media needs to embrace a rule that many forums have found actually works. Ban political talk completely.


They will never do it - and they tend to do the opposite. One of the ways they keep people involved is to promote things that get a reaction. Something that makes someone angry is more likely to get them to reply.
5:56 pm on Nov 11, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We also have millions (billions?) of Web sites to choose from.


And yet here we are, with people pointing their businesses to a "Facebook" page - The internet is full of walled gardens. AOL would be proud.
The late great IncrediBill and I had this discussion a few years ago about how the internet let the cat out of the bag with regard to central mainframes -- What we are seeing here is that the powers that be are trying to put the cat back into the bag and go back to that centralized mainframe model where just the select few have control over everything.

The internet is anything but open these days - No one owns their own anymore. Clouds and Social Media are destroying the freedom of the internet.
9:37 pm on Nov 12, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And the helpful little people "how to" sites have also been squeezed out by the behemoths.

Recently Google Search has reached a new unhelpful low for me with so many of my searches Trying to get details on a motor vehicle yesterday all the the search results were predominantly sites selling items related to my search.

I want to know "how to" not buy. If I'm going to buy I start with eBay to get an idea, then I look elsewhere.

Disappointing, very disappointing.
12:08 am on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We also have millions (billions?) of Web sites to choose from

But how to get to them? If you link to other websites (outside of Googles rules), you are penalized. The web that Berners Lee invented relied on hyperlinks from one site to another.

With Google restraining website linking (which is illegal - restraint of trade) since 2008, it’s no wonder people are limited with how they surf the web. We need a web that gets back to basics and is not controlled by a monopoly.

FTC: are you listening yet?
1:21 am on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you link to other websites (outside of Googles rules), you are penalized

Huh? Why would anyone be outside the rules?

Everybody has links - both inward and outward.

That is a foundation stone of the WWW and nothing to do with Google. I have never been penalised, nor anyone else as far as I know.

Google's rules were for the shonkies, not honest webmasters.
2:07 am on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google's rules were for the shonkies, not honest webmasters.

So if I sell a pasta strainer and you sell a pasta sizer and we target the same demographics, shouldn't we be allowed to link to each other through a traditional links/partners page without fear of Google? Google does not allow that and they will penalize you if you do it without nofollow. It's clearly outlined in their webmaster guidelines first published in 2008, a decade ago.

When was the last time you saw a links/partners page on the web? Probably a long time ago.. Berners Lee wanted websites to link to each other! But Google states that links pages are against its "guidelines" which is illegal here in the US. That is restraint of trade, a common law doctrine here in the US, a basic framework for allowing trade.

Since when did Google get to write the rules on who we can and cannot link to? It is criminal and it will always be criminal until they change their guidelines, or the FTC enforces fair trade practices here in the United States fining Google.

The EU is years ahead the US in enforcing these basic laws.

[support.google.com ]
" partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking.."
that is illegal. We should be able to link to who we want without fear of Google.

Tim Berners Lee wanted a World Wide Web.. not a World Wide Google.
7:22 pm on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@cnvi 100% agree with that. If only we could persuade people that there are alternatives to Google.

I'd like to throw wikipedia into the category of 'concentration', as they basically mechanised a lot of sites into one standardised site, and killed the content with a 1000 papercuts and references.

If there were ways to incentivise and motivate people to diversify onto their own domain, that'd potentially be productive for balancing out the concentration of ideas and content online.
8:41 pm on Nov 13, 2018 (gmt 0)

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How come Google isn't facing the same as Microsoft did with Internet Explorer? I mean I can't see any daily motion etc videos in the video carousal. Even in the search results I am seeing more and more youtube results and have yet to come across any of their competitors. What is the difference between what Google is doing and what Microsoft did?
2:03 am on Nov 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And the helpful little people "how to" sites have also been squeezed out by the behemoths.


We can still find the helpful little people with all of their "how-to's" on the net --
The big guys aren't really very interested in anyone learning how to do things on their own any more because to be quite frank about it, there's no money in it for them.

Most of us have been reduced to using mostly meta search, at least it's the case around here. The so-called behemoths have gone so far off the rails in fact, that even our own search index excludes social media types, and Google's properties listings -- Searched up Webmaster Tools on Google the other day, and the first 10 pages of listings, minus the ads, all had exactly the same things to say about Google's "Webmaster Tools" -- Not sure if Google even knows this any more, but there are still those of us out here that "still" write tools for everyday Webmasters. But good luck getting listed in the first 10 pages on Google for the work we do.

Used to be that we refused to list sites with pop-ups and p0rn, now these days we also refuse to list sites that have taken over the SERP's with their own brand(s). Even our advertising has gone static as a result of all of the nefarious tracking involved with most adservers these days.

I'm not real sure what Sir Tim plans to do, but I'm pretty sure that whatever it is, isn't going too hurt much at all, especially when the independence and the freedom of the WWW is concerned. In the mean time, guys that really knows how to do stuff ... you know ... like us ... should just double down and stay the course.

There are a lot of places on the web that are just totally gone -- And there are places that are shutting down even as I write this (Thumbshots just closed down on the 10th of this month), and we're still here, giving it a good go, just like always.

As an aside, Big Nose Bird is still there - It ain't too pretty to look at, but it's still there. Outdated as it may be, that place, along with a few others, help to remind us of better days, back when the internet was a wild and woolly place.
3:37 am on Nov 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Big Nose Bird is still there

Yea! A huge blast from the past.

Going back [mumble mumble] years/decades BNB is where I first learned SSI.
3:43 pm on Nov 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@graeme_p There is no sign of competition to Facebook,..


Au contraire, if you think of facebook as simply a networking ap there may not be many - but if you think of it as a leisure activity (which it is) and then you see where all the younger users have gone, instagram, snapchat, etc etc .. you can see that fb does have competition. Many of the young original fb users have moved on, or just use messenger, it is their parents that are not fb users, and for how long?
8:58 pm on Nov 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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What is the difference between what Google is doing and what Microsoft did?

I can see a huge difference between showing YouTube videos in a Google carousel and tying a Web browser into an operating system. You're making an apples-and-oranges comparison. You're also ignoring the fact that videos other than YouTube videos are readily available in Google's organic search results.
4:57 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I heard a stat the other day, in the US, YouTube consumes 18% of the total internet bandwidth, and it's second only to Netflix (didn't hear that number). Video bandwidth throws off the stats, but holy cow, 18% stunned me, I never would have guessed it was that high.
6:20 pm on Nov 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Video bandwidth throws off the stats
That's enough of an explanation right there. Even the most ineptly coded and/or image-heavy page won't run more than ten megabytes, while a feature-length movie will set you back at least a gigabyte. I should bear this in mind the next time I'm deciding between TV Tropes and CInemaSins.