10 Questions To Ask Before Trusting The Nabobs Of The Net: Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber
The Internet was meant to be a force for democratization, its power drawn from the bottom-up, peers working with each other without mediators. Recall that its origins were in ARPANET, originally funded by DARPA, as a decentralized and distributed collection of networks, without omnipotent hubs that might be vulnerable to attack by foreign powers. Much of the entrepreneurship that has fueled the Internet was bootstrapped out of scrappy locations — dorm rooms, friendly couches, garages — far from the corridors of power.
Yet, the Internet, circa 2016, is far from a digital Woodstock; it is ruled by a handful of omnipotent hubs. While this outcome may seem ironic, in an industry prone to network effects and scale economies, a concentration of market power among a handful of players is entirely natural and should not come as a surprise. What is surprising is how much we trust them and the tradeoffs we make every time we use their products.