Sunday, September 04, 2005

Too Big for their Boots

A while ago I posted a link to a video called EPIC 2014 which detailed, in a rather apocalyptic way, how major Internet players (principally Google and Amazon) could theoretically come to dominate “news provision”, in the broadest sense, and put the traditional Fourth Estate (the Press) out of business.

I was interested to read a recent piece in The Onion that outlines a supposed plan by Google to destroy any information in the world that it couldn’t index! Obviously, this is satire, but it does illustrate the sense of paranoia that can be generated by the relentless rise in the influence of these large high tech companies in an increasingly interconnected world.

A taste of this, in the real world, is provided by the reaction of certain members of the website Flickr following the takeover by Yahoo! some time ago. The announcement that, as from next year, people who want to continue to be members of Flickr will need to use a Yahoo! Password seems to have generated all sorts of anxieties, as well as the formation of a Flickr Group called Flick off. The members of Flick off are apparently planning to resign from Flickr if the proposed changes go ahead. It’s not quite clear what these folk are frightened of, but there is certainly a more generalised feeling in the “Flickr Community” that the takeover by Yahoo! may eventually destroy the ethos of the site.

Obviously Yahoo! wants to capitalise on the phenomenal success of Flickr, but making the site too big, many members seem to feel, runs the risk of destroying the very reason for its success.

As I’ve commented before, if these Internet Giants are not careful they run the risk of becoming as unpopular as Microsoft!