Robert Scoble has a bit of a rant today about the open web being dead and does a bit of trolling against Dave Winer and others who fight for open standards. He may be right. “Most people” may experience the web through closed systems like Facebook and Google+ rather than directly through blogs and RSS. Part of me feels that this is like AOL in the old days and that however attractive walled gardens may be in the short term the open web wins out in the long term. The other part of me wonders if it matters.
What is powerful about the web is our ability to find things and then indicate our feelings about them by linking to them. As David Weinberger says every link is an act of generosity. This may be a direct link from or blog or it may be a “like” in Facebook or a “plus” in Google+ – does it matter?
It matters when people start telling us what we can and can’t link to and that is the risk of proprietary systems. Much of the web is now “owned” by corporate interests and these, while they may provide most people with most of their experience of the web, will ultimately be eroded and replaced by the evolution of the web itself. I am reminded – yet again – of Bob Khan’s point that the hacker mentality will always stay ahead of those attracted to corporate or institutional thinking. Whatever the mass may do most of the time there will always be edglings and to claim that Facebook or Google have killed off the open web is naive.