Skip to Content

Social Networking Threatens the World Wide Web on its 20th Birthday

How do you 'like' that?

But that's not Facebook and it's not Twitter. There is simply no way one can share the complexity of one's thinking or the analysis of one's life in a one-paragraph Facebook message or a 140 character Tweet. For many young people, the encouraged reliance on these tools of communication, often to the exclusion of the Web's more abundant capabilities, reverse the impact the Web has had. Used alone, it makes communications shallow, a series of "references" to what the writer hopes others will understand. It is to real discussion what a wink of the eye and poke in the ribs is to honest and revealing communication.

Does Social Networking have a purpose? Absolutely. Some use it to refer to Web pages; it's an effective means of announcement. Some use it to "stay in touch" or tell others about something happening -- as Arab Spring activists used it. It is unquestionably useful.

But those who profit from it push the idea that, rather than a support for the rest of Internet Communications, Social Networking is a substitute for those communications. That is proving very attractive to hundreds of millions of young people and it is increasingly damaging the potential of the World Wide Web for, among other things, real social change.

The debate over its use and impact will continue and my own opinion is certainly not the last word but I know one thing. The people who first developed this marvel we call the World Wide Web didn't have Social Networking in mind. In fact, what they envisioned (a vision that has come to fruition) is fundamentally different from Social Networking and people who want to change this world need to actively and vigilantly protect and preserve that difference.

story | by Dr. Radut