In 2005 when I learned about MySpace I couldn’t believe what I saw. I thought for sure people would catch on, figure out they were the product being sold. I thought for sure once people learned they were being used, they were trading privacy to use this thing for free, they’d be pissed. They’d quit in a huff, maybe even do this:
It didn’t happen. It was the opposite. More and more kept joining.
Then Facebook came along. The company was run by a clown named Zuckerberg. I thought once they figured out what he was up to, what he was about, now for sure they’d throw the tire.
Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don’t know why.
Zuck: They “trust me”
Zuck: Dumb fucks
Wrong again. Facebook just kept spreading, like an Anopheles Mosquito.
Now here we are. This is progress? No, it’s not.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Back in 2007 when I saw the decay beginning, we started drawing up something we thought would be great for people. I named it zeldaB, after one of my doggies. We started drawing a place to share and interact in private. No advertising, no data mining. It had encryption, we designed it to keep scammers, spammers, and advertisers out. We designed it so that Google couldn’t index it.
We thought that given what was happening people would gladly pay a few bucks a month. We were wrong. When we tried to talk to investors they looked at us like we were nuts. Everyone said, “But Facebook is free”.
This is the high cost of free. In a free model, the VC’s make bank. Everyone else but the insiders, loses. It squashes competition. Because once the VC’s pick the winner, they bring boatloads of cash, making it impossible for anyone to compete. It’s really bad for our society.
We need to start paying for stuff. We need to pay a few bucks a month for a great thing, something that’s everything Facebook isn’t. Doing so is Patriotic.
If you look at what we did, we didn’t get it all right. Today, I’d change the interface and connect it to the Word Press infrastructure. I’d make a few other changes. But what I wouldn’t change is the desire to provide something I’m proud of. I wouldn’t change the plan to never sell it, I wouldn’t do it to get rich. I’d do it because it makes Mary’s life better. I’d do it for Mary.
zeldaB could still happen. But we’ll need young people to help and we’re going to need some money. Social media sucks. But the idea of a place to share files and chat is valuable.
zeldaB would be a gift to society. Young people could make amends. It’d send a message that it’s the people who have the power. It’d be telling the man to fuck off. Oh man, it’d be powerful.
If you stumble upon this, please tell others.