"Link In Bio" is a slow knife

Its presence is so subtle, and so pervasive, that we barely even noticed it was an attempt to kill the web.

For a closed system, those kinds of open connections are deeply dangerous. If anyone on Instagram can just link to any old store on the web, how can Instagram -- meaning Facebook, Instagram's increasingly-overbearing owner -- tightly control commerce on its platform? If Instagram users could post links willy-nilly, they might even be able to connect directly to their users, getting their email addresses or finding other ways to communicate with them. Links represent a threat to closed systems. [...]

But killing off links is a strategy. It may be presented as a cost-saving measure, or as a way of reducing the sharing of untrusted links. But it is a strategy, designed to keep people from the open web, the place where they can control how, and whether, someone makes money off of an audience. The web is where we can make sites that don't abuse data in the ways that Facebook properties do.

Links take us to places where we can make choices that Instagram never would.

I wrote basically this same article three months ago, and four years ago, so yeah, all of this.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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6 Responses:

  1. Lori says:

    I'm reading the tone as ironic, but I'm autistic af so I often misread such things. But surely the Web has already been killed several times over, no?

  2. David Pinero says:

    I only urge folks to read Hossein Derakhshan's 2015 article. It's been the reality for awhile. "The Web We Have to Save"

    - https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a426

  3. Doug Orleans says:

    Ironically, all I get from any anildash.com page is an endless "Preparing..." with the note "To keep Glitch fast for everyone, inactive projects go to sleep and wake up on request."

  4. J. Peterson says:

    It amuses me that readers of your previous post arrived too late to recognize "Skip Intro", and thought you were referring to the Netflix feature.

    I guess some of the web's old horrors do fade away.

    • hellpé says:

      Yup, that's me. But now that I think about it, I think it may have something to do with Adobe Flash, am I right?

      I'm old enough to have read this French-written piece about how every sexy website in 2005 was in Flash and how XHTML was too "boring" to help advance the innovation on the web. The comments about how Flash was "just a nice little harmless plugin" and "HTML dying won't be such a loss, except for the ones who are too lazy to learn a new technology" are quite something.
      Nowadays (but not anymore since I've deactivated my Twitter account!), I stumble upon remarks like this and I just get depressed a bit. Coming from the motherland of Minitel, the ambitious technology that gave us state-controlled overpriced phonebook services and sex chatrooms, I wonder if we're just having the walled gardens we deserve after all.

      • J. Peterson says:

        Bingo. Just after the turn of the century, every business paying an agency real money for creating their web site was rewarded with a gratuitous Flash animation starting up the moment you landed on the home page. Often you had to let it do its thing (draining the last of your browser's system resources) before you could actually get the information you came there for, like a phone number or product catalog.

        Realizing even the most patient customers wouldn't tolerate this a second time, the would-be Flash auteurs relented to a button in the corner of their masterpiece invariable labeled "Skip Intro". It became so common, at the trend's twilight one agency actually named themselves "Skip Intro".

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