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The Column icon The Column: Issue 4

The Library > The Column Archive > The Column 004

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The Column is a monthly feature that follows the lives of creative people and explores the world of creativity.

Opening Windows
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

As large businesses subsume the independent web enthusiast, I ponder the future where the individual voice may be drowned out by commercial corporations that exploit their formidable resources to capture and hold the interests of the average web citizen.

A room of my own

I close a window for one of a number of reasons: I need to keep the warm in, I need to keep the cold out, I want to keep my home secure. As the Internet matures, large corporations are closing windows everywhere in an attempt to quash the competition, increase revenue flows, and develop brand exposure.

In twenty years from now the Internet will offer unimaginable services and technologies that perhaps only a team of developers with specialist skills and tools will be equipped to deliver. Some fear the chance for recognition and success will become more difficult to achieve for those trying to establish an independent foothold on the shifting sand dunes that define our electronic virtual world.

I've noticed how many of the best independent web sites are slowly but surely being taken over by the big boys. The search for financial gain has become the dominant driving force in the development of the Internet, and the role of the community minded individual working from a room of their own using a single computer has become crucial in offsetting the emphasis of commercially oriented content and information.

From small to big

Virtual imperialism is everywhere. Take searchenginewatch.com, a great resource for those wishing to learn about how to get their site noticed.

A year after searchenginewatch.com launched, Jupitermedia (an Internet monolith that is responsible for Internet.com and Earthweb.com) took over the running of the site. Danny Sullivan, searchenginewatch.com's founder, became its Editor. In future, long after Danny moves on, searchenginewatch.com will continue to be a part of Jupitermedia (Jupitermedia Corporation now owns the domain name). I suspect Jupitermedia will protect its acquired brand, and continue to move the most valuable informational aspects of the site towards a fully paid subscription service.

Natural selection

If I were a hard nosed businessman representing a corporation such as Jupitermedia, I'd disseminate just enough information to the Internet community for my reputation as an information provider to remain intact, but I'd also ensure I didn't disclose information that provided my competitors with an edge, and there's the rub.

While searchenginewatch.com was an independent entity, the dissemination of information conformed to a simple model: get a little for free, get it all by paying. In future the third part of the equation, the political aspect, will ensure the little man finds it increasingly hard to view the whole picture. The commercial temptation to ensure the greatest advantage remains with the keeper of information is simply too great.

As time passes, so larger commercial entities consolidate and protect their interests. It's a lot like Darwin's model of natural selection. Those who will be best equipped to survive and dominate the Internet of the future, are those who inherent or develop certain resources and 'tools of exposure'.

All things to all men

As you pick up a paper and scan the creative job columns you'll often find a web site designer listed. The potential employer usually stipulates on the add the successful applicant has to be expert in graphic design, content editorial, html, php, asp, sql, and just about any web technology you can think of. Someone may well profess to be all things to all men, but they are of course kidding themselves as much as their potential employer.

The development of Macromedia's web site editor Dreamweaver is testament to how web design has become increasingly more complex. To presume one individual can exploit Dreamweaver's full potential is simply foolish.

There is however one fundamental principle that will ensure the independent voice continues to be heard across the growing cacophony of the commercial Internet: individuals, not collectives, have ideas. All anyone needs to become a writer of distinction is a pen and paper, hard work, and something to say. All you'll ever need to see your work published is Internet access and the web address of a willing and capable publisher like AbleStable.

The Internet of the future will be like the urban city of today with it's commercial centres, community areas, suburbs, and ghettos, but one crucial difference will remain: those with Internet access will have a window of opportunity to explore and deliver the labours of their creativity that is so often denied them in their real world existence...




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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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