Freedombone Blog

Freedom in the Cloud

2018: When giants stumble

It started to ramp up in 2017 but this year has been the first time that "big tech" has had some serious pushback probably since the Microsoft antitrust case in the 1990s over the now abandoned Internet Explorer browser. In mainstream publications criticism of Facebook and Google has been relentless.

I think what will happen in 2019 is that they will launch a PR offensive, so expect to see heartwarming promotional videos about how Google has transformed lives for the better and more sponsorship of "good works" type charities (along the lines of Gates' "philanthropy"). They'll denounce critics as elitist and claim that criticisms of them are "unrealistic", perpetuated by "utopians" or "ivory tower" Free Software people unconcerned with delivering at scale. You'll probably see slogans like this being casually dropped into conference talks.

Both Google and Facebook are sure to continue with their satellite based plans for connecting the next billion people to the internet (i.e. to their walled garden systems). I'm pretty sure they don't want a guifinet style model, and new types of low Earth orbit satellites with higher communications bandwidth and fancy phased array coverage will be able to deliver internet which is not especially fast but maybe good enough for basic services in areas of the world which currently have zero telecomms infrastructure.

In 2019 I also expect that Microsoft will begin doing things to monetize Github and get some ROI going, and that this will cause at least one scandal in which a bunch of projects leave that platform.

This year "decentralization" has become a buzzword, though it has been somewhat muddied by blockchain companies trying to claim the term as their own. Possibly in 2019 FreedomBox might start shipping on hardware, or as an officially endorsed hardware kit, and hopefully this might begin to spread some real decentralization in places where internet coverage is unreliable or non-existant. Also I think growth of fediverse social network systems has now gotten beyond critical mass and so next year we might begin to see some pushback or cooption of that by Big Tech and maybe also by governments.