Two great pieces by Cory Doctorow came my way today on Mastodon.
The first is an incredibly well argued piece about why people leave social networks. Facebook and Twitter won’t be immune, just as MySpace and Bebo weren’t.
As people and businesses started to switch away from the social media giants, inverse network effects set in: the people you stayed on MySpace to hang out with were gone, and without them, all the abuses MySpace was heaping on you were no longer worth it, and you left, too. Once you were gone, that was a reason for someone else to leave. The same forces that drove rapid growth drove rapid collapse.
The second is about all the hype surrounding chatbots, and Google and Bing. Cory begins:
The really remarkable thing isn’t just that Microsoft has decided that the future of search isn’t links to relevant materials, but instead lengthy, florid paragraphs written by a chatbot who happens to be a habitual liar—even more remarkable is that Google agrees.
Microsoft has nothing to lose. It’s spent billions on Bing, a search-engine no one voluntarily uses. Might as well try something so stupid it might just work. But why is Google, a monopolist who has a 90+% share of search worldwide, jumping off the same bridge as Microsoft?
He goes on, analysing how Google is not really an innovator, and most things it has have come to it through acquisition. They wouldn’t know a clever innovation if they saw it.
ChatGPT and its imitators have all the hallmarks of a tech fad, and are truly the successor to last season’s web3 and cryptocurrency pump-and-dumps.
I had better not quote any more as it’s way more important you visit both these pieces and see the entire arguments. Farewell to Big Social then.
Though if Cory is right, and my own thoughts have come close, then is there any point to web searching if these chatbots are going to unleash machine-authored crap, complementing some of the already godawful spun sites out there? Search engines should be finding ways of weeding out spun and AI-authored junk, rather than being in league with them—because that could mean the death of the web.
Or maybe just the death of Google and Bing, because Mojeek might be there to save us all.