Ever since I removed myself from most social networking sites and anything else that resembled a walled-in ecosystem, I have started to notice that more and more interesting articles, posts, comments and engaging discussions have moved away from the open web to simply disappear into the great beyond that are those bits and bytes not everyone has access to.
I often hit a solid wall when following a friend’s or acquaintance’s link which ends up on a service I don’t (want to) have access to anymore and which hasn’t been republished elsewhere. I’m sure I would have both liked to read along and maybe participate, but I couldn’t.
A while back, Dave Winer (Scripting News) put words to it when he elaborated on a quick tweet in “Anywhere but Medium“. He’s not only talking about material not being available to everyone but also, especially, about “[…] ceding a whole content type to a single company. Since you’re counting on them not just to store your writing, but also build flow for it, the inclination is to praise them, to withhold criticism. […] We saw that happen before on Twitter, when they gave huge flow to people they liked, and not to people they don’t.” He also states that he only wants “[…] to point to things that I think have a chance at existing years from now.”
I have been around since the advent of the web – especially as a music lover and collector seeking out hard-to-find information on little-known recordings – and since those exciting times, an incredible amount of information has simply disappeared or has been locked away by those in the driver’s seat. I used to have access to it. Today it is gone.
The web cannot continue to be an essentially democratic medium if people consciously or unconsciously decide to exclude others from having access to what they have published. Additionally, to avoid history repeating itself, a lot more of the currently available material has to be spread around a lot more to make sure a copy is still available (much) further down the timeline.