#ogChat Summary – Walled Garden Networks

By Patty Donovan, The Open Group

With hundreds of tweets flying at break-neck pace, yesterday’s #ogChat saw a very spirited discussion on the Internet’s movement toward a walled garden model. In case you missed the conversation, you’re in luck! Here’s a recap of yesterday’s #ogChat.

The full list of participants included:

Here is a high-level a snapshot of yesterday’s #ogChat:

Q1 In the context of #WWW, why has there been a shift from the open Internet to portals, apps and walled environs? #ogChat

Participants generally agreed that the impetus behind the walled garden trend was led by two factors: companies and developers wanting more control, and a desire by users to feel “safer.”

  • @charleneli: Q1 Peeps & developers like order, structure, certainty. Control can provide that. But too much and they leave. #ogChat.
  • @Technodad: User info & contributions are raw material of walled sites-”If you’re not paying for the service, the product being sold is you”. #ogChat
  • @AlanWebber #ogChat Q1 – People feel safer inside the “Walls” but don’t realize what they are loosing

Q2 How has this trend affected privacy/control? Do users have enough control over their IDs/content within #walledgarden networks? #ogChat

This was a hot topic as participants debated the tradeoffs between great content and privacy controls. Questions of where data was used and leaked to also emerged, as walled gardens are known to have backdoors.

  • @AlanWebber: But do people understand what they are giving up inside the walls? #ogChat
  • @TheTonyBradley: Q2 — Yes and no. Users have more control than they’re aware of, but for many its too complex and cumbersome to manage properly. #ogchat
  • @jim_hietala: #ogChat Q2 privacy and control trade offs need to be made more obvious, visible
  • @zdFYRashid: Q2 users assume that #walledgarden means nothing leaves, so they think privacy is implied. They don’t realize that isn’t the case #ogchat
  • @JohnFontana: Q2 Notion is wall and gate is at the front of garden where users enter. It’s the back that is open and leaking their data #ogchat
  • @subreyes94: #ogchat .@DanaGardner More walls coming down through integration. FB and Twitter are becoming de facto login credentials for other sites

Q3 What has been the role of social and #mobile in developing #walledgardens? Have they accelerated this trend? #ogChat

Everyone agreed that social and mobile catalyzed the formation of walled garden networks. Many also gave a nod to location as a nascent driver.

  • @jaycross: Q3 Mobile adds your location to potential violations of privacy. It’s like being under surveillance. Not very far along yet. #ogChat
  • @charleneli: Q3: Mobile apps make it easier to access, reinforcing behavior. But also enables new connections a la Zynga that can escape #ogChat
  • @subreyes94: #ogChatQ3 They have accelerated the always-inside the club. The walls have risen to keep info inside not keep people out.
    • @Technodad: @subreyes94 Humans are social, want to belong to community & be in touch with others “in the group”. Will pay admission fee of info. #ogChat

Q4 Can people use the internet today without joining a walled garden network? What does this say about the current web? #ogChat

There were a lot of parallels drawn between real and virtual worlds. It was interesting to see that walled gardens provided a sense of exclusivity that human seek out by nature. It was also interesting to see a generational gap emerge as many participants cited their parents as not being a part of a walled garden network.

  • @TheTonyBradley: Q4 — You can, the question is “would you want to?” You can still shop Amazon or get directions from Mapquest. #ogchat
  • @zdFYRashid: Q4 people can use the internet without joining a walled garden, but they don’t want to play where no one is. #ogchat
  • @JohnFontana: Q4 I believe we are headed to a time when people will buy back their anonymity. That is the next social biz. #ogchat

Q5 Is there any way to reconcile the ideals of the early web with the need for companies to own information about users? #ogChat

While walled gardens have started to emerge, the consumerization of the Internet and social media has really driven user participation and empowered users to create content within these walled gardens.

  • @JohnFontana: Q5 – It is going to take identity, personal data lockers, etc. to reconcile the two. Wall-garden greed heads can’t police themselves #ogchat
  • @charleneli: Q5: Early Web optimism was less about being open more about participation. B4 you needed to know HTML. Now it’s fill in a box. #ogChat
  • @Dana_Gardner: Q5 Early web was more a one-way street, info to a user. Now it’s a mix-master of social goo. No one knows what the goo is, tho. #ogChat
  • @AlanWebber: Q5, Once there are too many walls, people will begin to look on to the next (virtual) world. Happening already #ogChat

Q6 What #Web2.0 lessons learned should be implemented into the next iteration of the web? How to fix this? #ogChat

Identity was the most common topic with the sixth and final question. Single sign-on, personal identities on mobile phones/passports and privacy seemed to be the biggest issues facing the next iteration of the web.

  • @Technodad: Q6 Common identity is a key – need portable, mutually-recognized IDs that can be used for access control of shared info. #ogChat
  • @JohnFontana: Q6 Users want to be digital. Give them ways to do that safely and privately if so desired. #ogChat
  • @TheTonyBradley: Q6 — Single ID has pros and cons. Convenient to login everywhere with FB credentials, but also a security Achilles heel. #ogchat

Thank you to all the participants who made this such a great discussion!

Patricia Donovan is Vice President, Membership & Events, at The Open Group and a member of its executive management team. In this role she is involved in determining the company’s strategic direction and policy as well as the overall management of that business area. Patricia joined The Open Group in 1988 and has played a key role in the organization’s evolution, development and growth since then. She also oversees the company’s marketing, conferences and member meetings. She is based in the U.S.

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