Walled gardens on the internet – Giving the term meaning and context

walled gardens on the internet banner with text saying Philosophy

A walled garden is a pretty self-explanatory term. At issue is whether this is good or bad. Well, I’m about to explain why walled gardens are, at best, a misleading type of practice. At least in the context of digitally served media. Wikipedia calls it a “closed platform” for a reason.

Current Events

The context of why knowing walled gardens on the internet matters

  • Every day there is are many new account restrictions on Twitter
  • TikTok is being banned or will be banned in many countries
  • FaceBook employs fact-checkers to meddle in the “news arbitrarily.”
  • Epic Games is suing Apple and vice versa.
  • The console wars between Microsoft and Sony are about to heat up

These are just a few examples of “walled gardens” and the problems and lawsuits that are always a consequence. So the question becomes, how do we avoid or mitigate these problems. More importantly, how do we craft a philosophy that counters it while also keeping the benefits.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one critical weakness of the notion of walled gardens. In essence, by constructing their walls, they are confined to them. People and or competition can sit in the background and lob grenades at you behind your sitting walls.

Now, sure, at least you have walls. But I ask you this, wouldn’t it be better to move away from any grenades completely? Yes, that’s probably easier said than done, but that’s the whole point here.

Being flexible requires much effort; conversely, sitting behind walls is rather lazy. This distinction is important because of the ease of use, and convenience is winning the field. So this philosophy goes against the river currents, but it’s necessary as difficult as it may be.

It’s also necessary to describe these subjects this way. Because on the internet and communication age, the walls aren’t physical; they are more mental. This philosophy seeks to eradicate those mental walls, or at least make them razor-thin.

In summary, flexibility offers an abundance of positives

  • Huge potential cost saving
  • It’s adaptive to all current and future problems.
  • Will keep the rival(s) on their toes.
  • Can educate over indoctrinate

Transparency

Another weakness of walled gardens is their trade secrets. They might argue they need their secrets, but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Let’s explore that for a minute, though, like what secrets could Twitter or Facebook really have? We already know they monetize user data through advertising. We already know they have a left-leaning bias. Moreover, we already know the technology running their site isn’t a trade secret.

With all that said in this example, why is Twitter afraid of transparency. I postulate it could be several things. Including and or, but not limited to, the following.

  • Accountability doesn’t jive with the career type
  • Poor communication within the management
  • A serious lack of leadership from the top down
  • Immature social hierarchies
  • Internal or external power dynamics have gone awry

It’s clear that with a more transparent approach, modern social networks would benefit greatly. Plus, this argument only scratches the surface. If I could write all of this with a pretty basic tech-savviness level, imagine when I’m smarter or when I link up with more smart people.

I can’t list the cons of transparency because I don’t know what they are. Maybe that’s fortunate or unfortunate, as I don’t get that luxury of having secrets. Idk about any of you, but that sounds right. Like secrets have become the new type of luxury goods.

If secrets are a luxury then all of this should be an easy rallying cry.

Non-Invasiveness

Invasiveness is a hot button issue that a lot of people are currently missing. Most people don’t attempt advertising on the internet; if my previous sentence describes you, allow me to enlighten you.

Walled gardens on the internet, like social media platforms, want to be invasive without looking invasive. Yes, you read that right; I’m essentially describing the deception inherent in their business model. They can’t monetize their platforms through advertising and not display invasive ads. That would be like having their cake and eating it too.

All of that direct and implied manipulation takes a lot of work. It’s unnecessary work. That all might result from companies scaling too fast, or there might be something more nefarious going on. In any case, a foundation of minimalism doesn’t exist in the internet game.

In fairness, Tumblr is the closest big platform that has a minimal approach. But how many people do you know that still uses Tumblr? It’s unfortunate because Tumblr is a cool idea. It’s even true that I could take over one social network; it would be Tumblr.

Conclusion

Creating a garden with no walls isn’t easy. As I’ve described, the environment isn’t favorable in that regard. In some cases, the environment is downright hostile. Plus, introducing people to something new is inherently difficult.

The phrase don’t judge a book by its cover is often said but not often followed. Perhaps in time, you and I can change that. But it can only be done by leading by example. I’m sure you still enjoy hanging out in the walled garden that is Facebook or Tiktok. And that’s perfectly fine.

Enjoy social media, but don’t get stuck in gardens under frequent manipulation and alterations. Knowing that your best user experience doesn’t align with the business goals of major media companies. Lastly, know that we are better because our foundation is stronger.