What will the U.S. do about Facebook and Google?
Some people would like to see the companies broken up. They propose surgical cuts: Facebook must relinquish WhatsApp and Instagram, while parent company Alphabet could spin off feeder products from advertising-funded search.
On what grounds? We know that bigness per se is no crime. Are these companies “essential facilities” that left fewer, more expensive options for consumers?
The problem is that many of these companies’ products cost us nothing, at least in terms of dollars. It doesn’t look like Facebook or Google have been lowering product quality, either. In general, there’s a lot of competition when it comes to social media platforms and search, even if people choose not to use them very much.
Hmm, so the Mac Pro is overpriced? If so, then the Macintosh II was overpriced. [Disclosure: I was the publisher and primary editor of The Macintosh II Report]. Indeed, we heard that exact same claim back in the late 80’s about the Mac II (and the Mac Iix and Mac IIfx), and it went on to be a popular and useful tool for many. They were essentially state-of-the-art desktops that appealed to very high end clients. Most folk bought a Mac Plus, Mac SE, or Mac SE/30, though.
Although I don’t write much about the topic on this blog, I love science fiction, especially cyber-punk and Japanese anime and superhero graphic novels. One of my favourite cyberpunk novels in the early 1990s was a novel, Islands in the Net, written in 1988 by science fiction author, Bruce Sterling.
Islands in the Net is a story of “…data pirates, mercenaries, nanotechnology, weaponry, and post-millennial voodoo”. It represents a future where people can use the Internet to topple governments, change lives and make history. That novel was prescient in many ways.
In 2001 I ventured out on my own as an independent consultant, working on web development and system integration etc. It was also the same year that I started blogging. In 2003, I made a pivoted my skill set to cyber-security. With my keen interest in vulnerability assessment and finding and exploiting the weakness in information systems (aka penetration testing), my blog content changed. I started thinking and writing more about what I was learning, and I felt like I was living in that world described in the novel, Islands in the Net. It was also the same year that I decided that I wanted a domain name for my website.
My new career in cyber-security and my search for a domain name got me thinking about how I felt about my writing at the time. My blog was/is like a small island in the vast ocean of the Internet, where I shared my thoughts about anything and everything hacking related. Once I had the word island on my mind, I started thinking about the actual island in the West Indies where I was born and spent my pre-adult years. The West Indies is famous for its era of piracy which lasted from circa 1650 until the mid-1720s. Suddenly with my mind swirling with thoughts of the Internet, islands, and hacking, I remembered the Bruce Sterling novel.
The name of the blog, Island in the Net came to mind, and I went looking for a domain name. The domain, islandinthe.net was taken (and still is). I settled on islandinthenet.com.