Most of the people who designed the internet didn’t want it to be a commercial medium, and that’s why they made it that way. The problem with that for capitalism was that it didn’t make for a very successful commercial model. In the 1990s, there was endless talk of locating the “killer app,” the digital goose that would lay the golden eggs. Capitalists knew the internet was changing everything, but it seemed resistant to commercial exploitation. By the middle of the 1990s, Madison Avenue and the corporate community realized that if they were going to really have the internet be the nervous system of modern society, they had to make it advertiser friendly, they had to make it profit friendly. They had to commercialize it, and the crucial thing to doing that was introducing the capacity and the protocols for surveillance, knowing who exactly is online, everything about them. That began in earnest in the late 1990s and changed the entire logic of the internet — turned it on its head in many respects.
in response to:
at the heart of it all is the commercial principle driving our media system. This is of course what’s left out of the mainstream accounts of it. Could you lay out where you think the connections are between the commercialization of media and the way in which Facebook has now been harnessed to these very worrying political ends?