Two walls good, four walls bad
In my inner monologue, services like Facebook are bad because they are "walled
gardens": most of the content they offer is either not available or is only
available in a very limited to form to people who are not also users of
In that exact same inner monolgue, the SDF is, of course, wonderful and grand
and a shining beacon of how things on the internet should be done. However, in
some ways, SDF is its own walled garden. Yes, SDF provides web and gopher and
email hosting and these are fine and upstanding citizens of the internet. But
the content on BBOARD and COM is only accessible to people with an SDF account.
So when huge companies do this, it's evil and exclusionary and pressures people
into signing up for their services just to stay in touch with their friends, but
when obscure, small non-profits do this it's charming and contributes to a sense
of community and togetherness.
If you look very closely here, you might spot a contradiction. And as somebody
who enjoys his thoughts and opinions having at least a vague appearance of
internal consistency, this bothers me. I'm trying to figure out if my beliefs
here are genuinely inconsistent or if there's a more nuanced understanding of
walled gardens beyond "they're always bad" that means there's no problem here.
This is one train of thought in a larger ongoing rumination of mine on the
nature of SDF. Another is: why is SDF (relatively) unique? Yes, grex exists,
and so does polarhome, but really, in terms of longevity, user counts, public
awareness and internet "street cred", SDF is kind of the only game in town, and
I'm not 100% sure why. I mean, obviously unix shell acounts are not for
everybody. I understand why there are not tens of thousands of SDF-like services
thriving all around the internet. But I'm not sure I get why there aren't a
dozen or two of them. Or perhaps there are?
Does it make sense to be active on more than one service of this kind at once?
What are the options for interaction *between* services like this? Is that
something we would even want?