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Sean Walker

Big tech is AOL now

I’m old enough to remember that AOL was garbage and I never used it. This is what the mainstream internet has become. AOL.

In the 90s and early 00s America On-Line used to send compact discs in the mail urging you to get online with x number of free hours. Of course it wasn’t the actual internet, it was AOL’s gateway to it, they had their own browser, games, forums, chat, everything you’d want to do online at the time AOL had it. You didn’t need to go to the wider internet because everything under the AOL umbrella was so easy to use and free!

Some things change, others stay the same

The AOL formula had been written and it seems like every consumer tech company has been following it to a T for the past 20 years. Apple has been trying to trap you in a walled garden of apps. Google has been trying to give you “instant answers” so you don’t even have to leave the search results page! Facebook has been literally trying to subvert your whole reality with VR headsets. Snapchat, twitter, tiktok, the list goes on, but the strategy is always the same: stay on our platform, the wider internet of protocols and websites and web applications is hard to use, you don’t want that, just accept big tech’s advertised, loving embrace and all of your troubles will be gone!

I don’t have a solution, I only offer a little bit of pain and discomfort, and a suggestion to try the wider internet with its emails, rss and weird protocols and reconnect with the weird, wide digital world.