January 19, 2011

Decontaminating The Web

Advertising was once a much more interesting business.

It wasn't run by mealy-mouthed lawyers and financiers. It was run by foul-mouthed entrepreneurs and craftsmen, who actually knew how to make an ad. It wasn't about technology and metrics. It was about ideas and strategy.

American neighborhoods were once much more interesting places.

Each had a unique personality. There were shoe stores and tailors and hardware stores. Now every neighborhood is the same. Gaps and Radio Shacks and Taco Bells. Dallas looks like Atlanta. Sacramento looks like Providence.

Next up for de-personalization is the web.

We can't see it because it's happening before our eyes, but the web is quickly becoming a big corporate blob. It used to be the Wild Wild World Wide Web. It is becoming The Google, Yahoo, MSN, Facebook web.

This is the result of two things: natural economic forces and extraordinary greed.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the large players on the web are gathering frightening amounts of data on us. This gives them enormous economic advantages when selling their services to marketers. This keeps them growing. But their short-sightedness and greed will have another effect. It will bring government into the picture.

When an industry is too rancid and self-absorbed to put reasonable limits on itself, the heavy hand of government will inevitably be felt.

If you have enjoyed the craziness and chaos of the web, I have bad news. It won't last.

If you like stability and order I have good news. The corporate-government web is on the way.

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