Right now, it could go either way

Several friends have sent me this piece from The (Not Dallas) Observer about the explosion of open media and government and Big Media efforts to wall it in:

Within 10 years, there
will be no distinction between software companies, phone networks,
search engines, movie studios and internet service providers. There
will just be Web plc. To experience it, you will have to pay…

…And that is the
problem for the current generation of web citizens. They are neither
the aristocrats, nor the foot soldiers of the net. They are simply its
conscience and they will scream and shout as the web is carved up and
sold off. Jamie McCoy has few illusions about the current era of great
web equality: ‘As soon as someone finds a way to really make a lot of
money out of blogging, that will kill it,’ he says.

everyone is pessimistic. In fact, a lot of long-term web users are
utopian about the future. All the hyperbole that was first draped
around the web has proved inadequate. In the way it transforms and
accelerates the communication of ideas between individuals and
societies, it is about as big as the invention of the alphabet. And it
is free. But for how long? The machinery of government and big business
is only just beginning to understand the scale of the web. The culture
of common purpose that prevails today is a product of neglect as much
as design. The real gold rush has barely begun. To experience the
sharing culture of the blogosphere today is like living in a commune
built on an oil field. One day, the diggers will move in.

is the last generation that will remember the analogue world and feel
the difference between the two realms. For the next generation of
digital natives, the web will be a slick, commercial machine. It will
be just as big as the world we currently live in and it will be just as
ruthless and as corrupt.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.