Tag Archives: monopoly

facebook and google take over the world!

In light of my blog about wordpress’ monopoly over blogging, I thought I’d discuss my feelings towards the other two main websites that I use; Facebook and Google.

Companies such as Facebook and Google enjoy domination in the social networking and search engine realms respectively, and this is obviously a very good thing for business. I have watched them slowly trying to branch out into other realms too, with Google’s successful Gmail function too.

This is obviously a good thing for these companies, but what about the individual?

Monopoly over different aspects of web behaviour causes us to be funnelled into certain websites and certain behaviours.  For example: before I joined Facebook, I used to trawl the web for entertainment, visiting many different sites and exploring a diverse range of content. Now the time I spend on the web is mostly limited to Facebook, since it is so highly interactive and easy to use. This isn’t a bad thing, but I do lament the days when I used to actively search for content that I enjoyed.

Alternatively, this streamlining of internet behaviour could be a really positive thing. It allows me to connect with people around me better, since they are using the same websites as me. If I google something interesting, I can be assured that my other friend using Google will be able to find it too.

And lastly- while Facebook has a monopoly over the time that I spend on the internet, it does facilitate my interaction with cyberspace in an incredibly positive way. I can ‘like’ the pages of websites/companies/projects that I enjoy, and receive updates from them when they have new content. I’m exposed to the content that my friends enjoy via the newsfeed, and often enjoy viewing the videos that they watch, and the websites that they visit. This has proved a way more effective way to browse the web than a generic Google search.

While it does creep me out a bit that Google reads my emails and that I get strangely relevant advertising in return, I don’t mind so much. They provide a quality service and I think Gmail is truly innovative and excellent.

As I said in my post about wordpress, I do always hope that there will be competition though, and so that we can keen seeing great things from Google and Facebook.

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Ready, set, connect!

I have really enjoyed learning to use WordPress this semester. It’s intuitive, clean, and pretty customisable. It was interesting to hear in today’s lecture, ‘Revisiting WordPress’ (week 6) that WordPress has such an ‘open source monopoly’, and I wondered how this came about and what it means for user agency.

WordPress is, according to Technorati’s 2010 ‘State of the Blogosphere’ report, the most popular blog hosting service, being used by 40% if all people who responded to the survey. 78% of respondents also reported that cost was the most important factor in their decision-making process about which blogging host to choose (Sobel, 2010). This is the first reason I believe that WordPress is so effective. It is a free, quality service, that is accessible to so many people.

Not only is it accessible due to its cost-free nature, but it allows, as Helmond argues, users to write “posts in a graphical user interface” which is “less complex than directly writing posts in a database” (Helmond 2007). This is one of a number of features that makes WordPress so accessible to the average person. It helps you to create stunning, professional-looking blogs with minimal effort.

Indeed, website creation used to be limited to those with program coding experience. WordPress has now however created an even playing field for web users, giving more people a voice than ever before. With a homogenised website for the creation of blogs, even the skills of blog creation are easier to share. For example you can google any WordPress problems you may have, and there are a wealth of forums discussing them.

Thus, with technical hurdles out of the way, it is far easier to connect with web and express yourself, with information-sharing more democratised than ever before.

Sure, we aren’t able to get into the nitty-gritty coding of our blogs, but I don’t see this as a big loss. I would argue that while the masked database leaves us with less user agency individually, it counteracts this negativity by the fact that it has brought more individuals into the world of blogging than there would have been otherwise. This is most certainly a positive thing. As Paul Graham puts it in his piece on Web 2.0:

“The most dramatic example of Web 2.0 democracy is not in the selection of ideas, but their production…the top links on Reddit [for example] are generally links to individual people’s sites rather than to magazine articles or news stories.”

I don’t have any objections to it having a monopoly over other blogging sites. I feel like our access to the blogosphere is streamlined now that we mostly all use the same blog host. I applied for a new job recently for example where I may need to help manage the website. And guess what? They use WordPress. Thank god!

I hope that there will always be alternate sites so as to encourage competition, forever prompting the dominant sites to be innovative and efficient. At the end of the day though, having standard forms of blogging helps individuals to make sense of the sprawling mass of information available on the World Wide Web, and better facilitate them to create a systematic and accessible online identity for themselves.

References:

Graham, P. (2005, November). Wed 2.0. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from Paul Graham: http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html

Helmond, A. (2007), ‘Software-engine relations’ in Blogging for Engines: Blogs Under the Influence of Software-Engine Relations, Amsterdam, Netherlands: University of Amsterdam

Sobel, J. (2010, November 5). HOW: Technology, Traffic, and Revenue- Day 3 SOTB 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2011, from Technorati: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/how-technology-traffic-and-revenue-day/