Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Independent Web; Pocket, Highly & Mozilla?

At a recent dinner I sat next to an exec from a large adtech company. I tend to avoid adtech discussions, but this one was fascinating. He described his, successful, platform as increasingly fighting a silo'd/walled-garden web where advertisers were hunkering down with specific platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), and were considering spending less on the "independent web." I had never heard someone call what I just thought was "the web" as the "independent web." I part of me died inside. Sure enough, while I hadn't heard this term before, it's a thing. Publishers are driving us this direction more and more, because, that's how advertisers want to spend. AOL showed us how limiting a Publisher centric view of the web can be; let's not do that again.

As time has moved on, a few use patterns have become increasingly important to the "independent web:" "read later," and "highlight."

Read Later

The other day, the most prolific "read later" platform, Pocket, was acquired by Mozilla. This was Mozilla's first acquisition believe it or not. The marriage speaks to the significance of "read later" and the necessity of it being independent and functional across Publishers. While Mozilla will always be a part of me, I do have concerns about their ultimate browser market share. Pocket as part of a cross-platform client dedicated to the "independent web" only makes sense though. If Mozilla wants to fully carry this torch, they need to get in bed with another company though; Highly.

Highlight

Just as we need a platform to collect and share content (URLs) in a cross platform, cross publisher, manner, we need the ability to highlight content in the same manner. Highly has done a great job building this.

We're already being spoon fed by a shrinking number of Publishers (read... advertisers), we need to be careful not to fall into the proprietary technology stack trap in the process. AOL did this, and while it took us awhile, we realized it was a problem. Let's not let history repeat itself on this one.

What You Can Do

Use products that support an independent web model. Chrome (though at risk of, or arguably already there, not actually being independent, but, it's at least not Safari), Brave, Mozilla, Pocket, and Highly. You can also let your Publisher silos know you don't like it when they lock-you-in. Facebook, as the new AOL, is most famous for this by regularly stripping our ability to share content outside of Facebook at all.

If you're an independent publisher (e.g. a "blogger") host your own stuff, and use the "Publishers" as distribution platforms, not as publishing platforms; confusing the two is dangerous.

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