An Arnold Law of Online

January 18, 2022

I spotted “My First Impressions of Web3.” Interesting. I have been keeping since the 1980s what I call Arnold’s Laws of Online Information. Maybe I will publish a list of these. For now I want to point out this Law:

Online seeks centralization.

The late Robert David Steele and I argued about the Web 3 idea. He believed that online could be distributed, thus breaking the grip of monopolies. I pointed out that online is inherently powered by discrete services which first affiliate (links), then clump, and eventually end up moving toward the Ma Bell model. Break up an online service and what happens? The process repeats itself.

Web3 is an interesting idea, but as “My First Impressions of Web3” points out:

I don’t think it’s on a trajectory to deliver us from centralized platforms…

I agree because it sure looks like this Arnold Law is a keeper. Why? Efficiency, money, power, ego, and control. Saying one thing while the behavior of online charts another course is nothing new.

Stephen E Arnold, January 8, 2022


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