The Hyperlink Delusion
A personal statement to upgrade the Web.
Platforms manage connections for you. Some of these platforms rule the world today.
Platforms manage connections for you. Some of these platforms rule the world today.

Suppose we both have a personal webpage and we want it to show that we are friends. In my page I make reference to yours and you do the same towards mine. We want to establish a connection that explains publicly our friendship relationship.

To keep this connection active and up to date on our respective sites, some degree of maintenance is necessary. If we don’t want to do it ourselves, a platform could take over. From social networks to search engines, online marketplaces and everything in between.

I need this item, maybe I’ll buy it later. Store it in my wishlist. Share it with my friends. Send a DM. Message read but not replied. Block this user. Follow this other one. Like this photo. Tag this photo. I like cats too, join this group. Search for it. Show me the newsfeed of this account. Watch this video. Write a comment. Upvote this other comment. Click that ad. Maybe I need this item too.

All types of platforms for all types of connections.

What these platforms offer, most of the time for free [1], is maintenance for your connections and the opportunity to create new ones when using their service.

Apparently, the deal seems all advantages for the user and it is undeniable that many of these platforms really contribute to improve our daily lives. But we must understand and be aware that by delegating the responsibility in the management of our connections we are losing control over them. From the individual perspective, the control granted is almost imperceptible, but at the scale that these companies operate, the accumulated control is easily translated into an immense source of power [2].

More users means potential for more connections. To more connections, more power [3]. The more power, the more capability to influence society [4], for better or for worse.

“If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” Andrew Lewis (aka blue_beetle)
You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product – Quote Investigator
“By the end of the 2010s, five American technology companies – Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet (holding company for Google), and Facebook – were, besides Saudi Aramco, the most valuable public companies globally.”
Big Tech - Wikipedia
“Not good because too much of our data is in the hands of fewer. Not good because these fewer are largely unaccountable to those they serve and hard to control by governments that are elected by the people.” Kara Swisher
The Immunity of the Tech Giants
“Power is the ability to influence the behavior of other people.”
Interpersonal relationship - Wikipedia