In a column in today’s Guardian, I look at the consolidation of online traffic and content at a small number of “information plantations” – the megasites like Google, MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia that increasingly dominate the new medium.
On the internet, the big get bigger.
It wasn’t supposed to be like that. When the web arrived in the early 1990s, it was heralded as a liberating force that would free us from the confines of gated communities like AOL and Compuserve. The web was supposed to be an open, democratic medium, an information bazaar putting individuals on the same footing as big companies. In the end, though, the internet seems to be following the same pattern that has always characterised popular media. A few huge outlets come to dominate readership and viewership and smaller, more specialised ones are consigned to the periphery.