✊📖 Book: The Internet Con: Seize the Means of Computation
Shovel-ready solutions to the problems of the modern internet
Cory Doctorow is easily my favorite tech writer and activist. He's sharp, insightful, and extremeley entertaining.
He posits, and I tend to agree, that certain tech giants, including Facebook, Google, and Amazon, have followed a similar trajectory:
- First, they are good to their users.
- Then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers.
- Finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves.
He's coined a term for this lifecycle: enshittification.
The Internet Con is a collection of essays that explore the problems of the modern internet and offer shovel-ready solutions.
I appreciate that he offers concrete actionable steps that are accessible today. One core theme is interoperability.
Many remain tethered to platforms like Facebook due to the presence of their social circles, despite the platform becoming increasingly saturated with ads and misinformation. This scenario epitomizes the concept of network effects, where platforms benefit simply because "everyone is on them."
Interoperability offers a a compelling solution to this bind. Imagine if you could seamlessly interact with your Facebook friends while using an entirely different social network. The choice to move becomes far more enticing.
The ActivityPub protocol is one of the most widely used interoperable-first standards. Platforms like Mastodon (Twitter clone) and Pixelfed (Instagram clone) are built atop ActivityPub. I've spent a fair amount of time on Mastodon and can attest to its refreshing environment — free from ads, hate speech, and unwarranted negativity. By aligning with well-moderated instances, users can genuinely curate their online experience.
For those keen to delve deeper, Cory Doctorow has shared the first chapter of The Internet Con. Additionally, here's his talk at Defcon 31 in which he shares the core of his thesis.
While I have no direct affiliation with Doctorow, I can't recommend his work enough. For those intrigued: