The Web Blooms Again: How the Likes of Ello & DuckDuckGo Can Save Our Souls
These days it’s hard not to become cynical about the powerful gatekeepers of social media and search like Facebook and Google. Luckily there are also small but beautiful signs of a new era. It’s Ello when it comes to social networking and DuckDuckGo in search.
Ethics vs megalomania
Ello and DuckDuckGo are just the two most prominent visionaries. The trend of ethical online business can be felt in manifold places. You don’t have to screw people to earn a living. Few people want to become obnoxious billionaire data sellers like Mark “face-recognition” Zuckerberg or creepy Sergey “Glass” Brin and Larry “undead” Page with his plans to live forever.
When I started out on the Web in the late nineties it was full of enthusiasm and limitless possibilities.
It was about equality, opportunity and technological utopia. The public was still largely hostile and the internet has been depicted as a hell’s kitchen full of child pron, nazi propaganda and bomb building tutorials. Strangers became friends online despite continents, nationalities, skin colors or genders setting them apart in real life.
The borders guards of the Internet
Over the years, commerce, SPAM, nonsense too over. While at first people got empowered to read the news directly from the source over the years the Web deteriorated. Today corporate interests run paramount with gatekeepers like Google, Facebook, Apple building their own private Internet gated communities. Borders have been reestablished by Google itself on behalf of restrictive governments and big business.
I can’t watch many YouTube videos theses days because they are “not available in my country”.
My search results show me German sites just because I’m in Germany despite using an English-language browser. Some sites like NBA.com even don’t let me visit them anymore. Instead I get redirected to a local German site that does shallow NBA coverage on some obscure URL: http://www.spox.com/de/sport/ussport/nba/index.html
You are the product
The most popular sites on the Web today thrive because you are their product. They sell your user data and earn revenue off your user generated content. Indeed Google treats the whole Web as user generated content they can use without asking or paying. It’s not like we can do much about that. We’re hooked. They are our pushers.
We can’t live without Facebook, Google or Apple it seems no matter how obnoxious they become.
Now here come some upstarters who are making money without exploiting people. There is a new sense of privacy. They are doing business according to ethical principles and they simply don’t trick and track people.
Can this new generation of activists, entrepreneurs and geeks save our souls despite the overpowering monopolization of the Web by a few billionaires? Can the likes of DuckDuckGo (search engine) and Ello (social networking site) pave the way of a new better Web?
C.R.E.A.M. – Cynicism Rules Everything Around Me
When looking at the current state of the Web I get reminded of a hip hop song from my youth by the legendary Wu Tang Clan: C.R.E.A.M. Unlike the many copycats who became popular later Wu Tang did not glorify money and consumerism in their music but just explained the status quo on the streets and beyond.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me wasn’t about how cool money making and spending is but how average people get affected by it and how it breaks a community.
Today we witness a similar situation on the Web. A global community formerly run by scientists and enthusiasts has deteriorated almost completely and gets dominated by ruthless and money hungry transnational corporations that don’t even pay taxes.
In fact I can’t even watch the Wu Tang video on YouTube here in Germany because Google refuses to pay local copyright holders a share of their revenue they get from their music. It’s easy to become cynical in such an environment, even though it’s just virtual.
Save your soul now!
For the sake of our sanity and overall mental health we need to support such new endeavours like Ello and DuckDuckGo. Indeed DDG isn’t really new anymore. They have started in 2010 I think but they are only recently growing so much that the mainstream can catch a glimpse of the “new” search engine.
The service is also ad-free and is called Wickr. I just came across it. I happen to find out about some new exciting development each day. So keep your eyes open and share the news about these ethical services not everybody knows yet but should. Why? It’s to save your soul!
* The “Ello and DuckDuckGo parachutes” illustration stems from the kind folks over at Freepik.com