Apparent Confusion

I can’t seem to get that Facebook/Microsoft Ocean Length Cable story out of my mind. I’m looking through an infrastructure lens of late, mostly because I wonder if this is the next step for tech company giants.

To what extent does the description of Facebook below change if FB continues to build more massive infrastructure projects? The confusion described below is solved by altering the structure of the internet to fit (or, catch up with) the language of the people in Indonesia. From Attending to Technology:

In May 2012, some researchers reported their surprise at learning that many people in Indonesia said they did not use the Internet but they did use Facebook. Similar patterns have since been observed elsewhere. The researchers are not sure precisely what these people mean, but the most likely explanation is that their online lives happen wholly, or almost wholly, on Facebook; if they click links that take them out of Facebook, they are not aware of that. This apparent confusion is likely to spread as Facebook continues to roll out its Internet.org, which provides for a number of developing countries free mobile Internet access — limited to particular services.

An innocent reading of this phenomenon would say that it is a version of calling all soft drinks “Coke”; a less innocent one would say that it is like the world envisioned by WALL-E, a world in which both the ruined Earth and the spaceships that allow people to escape from it are controlled by the megacorporation Buy n Large.

The innocent reading perhaps isn’t so innocent. Calling all soft-drinks “Coke” (or, a “Coke Product”) is more accurate now than was the case when this version of the phenomenon started. Buy a beverage at the store, call it a Coke, and chances are that you’re correct.

Will referring to the internet or the WWW as “Facebook” eventually have similar odds?

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