This week’s lecture discovered the concept of network and the different types with which our society, culture and organisation could be identified, as our lecturer Ted asked us to specify the types of network out of ‘centralised, decentralised and distributed networks’. Upon this, one question popped up in my head in relations to the most enormous electronic network ever created by mankind, which has now become the very integrated part in human society and technological evolution- which type of network is the internet?
Surely, many of us would very quickly jump to the conclusion that the internet is a distributed system, where particles are able to communicate, interact and share information virally. This is totally understandable and mostly true, in theory; as the Internet, otherwise known as Web 2.0, was created as a space for the vast distribution of free data and information across its uncontrollably accumulating number of users (person-to-person interaction). However, in the current Internet demographics, where corporations are utilising the features of this humongous media platform to produce content, promote publicity and ultimately, to generate profits in the name of copyright; is it still a distributed network?
I was first introduced to the idea of the Internet being a feudal system of society and was very intrigued by this idea. In a feudal society, feudal lords provide the land they own to the peasants who would labour for the land owner to produce goods and food as a living. Doesn’t this remind you of anything? The Internet is now occupied by so many media corporation who seek to create their own exclusive premises where users are required to pay to access their information and ‘play by their rules’. This is called ‘Walled Gardens’- exclusively controlled and guarded spaces or databases of information available for access only for the ‘privileged’ paying members.
As seen floating across Web 2.0, ‘Walled Gardens’ continue to spread and expand their possibilities of maximising profits for copyright-crazy companies. An evident example of this is evident in the very Macbook Pro that I am using right now to compose this blog entry. Apple, the radical pioneer of this decade’s technology and iconic technological trend, has created their own ‘Walled Garden’ called ‘App Store’, where users are required to pay to access information and create apps or content under Apple’s closed and exclusive jurisdiction within the ‘free’ Web 2.0. The distributed network has been somewhat deformed and reshaped into a distributed network of centralised networks. In other words, the Internet has been exploited to lobby for centralised systems, betraying its very original purpose.
To finish this blog entry, I would like to ask you readers one question:
What will the Internet become 20 years from now? Will it still be the distributed space it was designed for or will we have to look back and regret we did nothing to prevent media dictatorship?