When an entire generation of computer users first poked our doe-eyed faces onto a young internet, many of us were greeted with a single, encompassing, monolithic face peering back: the AOL Home Screen. To call it a young internet isn't even fair—it was a mature, thriving AOL. It was ubiquitous, it was powerful, it was everything—and it ended up destroying itself, too flawed by design to last. And someone's trying to rebuild the Death Star.
How do we know nobody's learned shit since the days of the 56k Hindenburg? News like Warner Bros' decision to rent movies—starting with The Dark Knight—directly through Facebook. News like Rovio putting Angry Birds onto perhaps the only platform other than my dead grandfather's typewriter that doesn't yet support it—yup, Facebook. Which is just, really, wonderful! If there's one thing the internet is lacking right now, it's yet another fucking place to rent a movie for 48 hours for several bucks or play god damned Angry Birds. And it adds up—Facebook is reaching its tendrils into every single thing we like about the internet, far, far beyond the actual reasons we rolled up to Zuckerberg's site in the first place. IMing? Check. Email? Check. Photo sharing? Check. Apps? Check. Location check-ins? Yup. Twitter ripoff status updates? But of course! What Facebook hasn't stuffed into its maw by its own will, it's given developers plenty of incentive to do so themselves. The consequence? Over a decade after the web portal stopped making sense, Facebook is trying to assemble itself, like some ill-conceived Voltron, into the next.