Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known

By Ellen P. Goodman and Julia Powles – We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit.

The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant.

They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.

As their users, we are like the blinkered young fish in the parable memorably retold by David Foster Wallace. When asked “How’s the water?” we swipe blank: “What the hell is water?”

A medium is not merely something that feeds us content. It is a condition like air or water, through which we move without noticing.

The analogy captures part of what is happening, but goes even further. Facebook and Google are not only carrying us, but constituting us. We are, in fact, their media. more> https://goo.gl/8TClYy

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