Mr. Stallman, first I must thank you for The GNU Project, the gift the world doesn't yet appreciate. In a fifty years there will be a statue commemorating your achievement of preventing computers thirty years ago from becoming like iPhones are today. If there isn't I'll have to commission it myself. Thank you for buying us all this time to prevent 1984.
What I'd like to ask is whether you are concerned about how popular and business media conflate Silicon Valley start-ups and Apps with technology and software as a whole. As we all know, the internet has existed since long before MySpace and terms like "bloggers", "new media", "social networking", "big data", etc.
The cover of this week's Economist has a map, shaped like a brain, of various corporate entities which are dominating and strangling the web, entitled "Empire of the Geeks". Corporatization of web is killing communities as users become commodities to be sold to advertisers, or mined for valuable personal information. Users are thus taken for granted. For instance, Reddit is the only web-forum I've used that has a "Board of Directors" and a CEO, and I can't fathom how anybody can keep a straight face while contemplating such an absurdity.
The article in the Economist promises the tech-ignorant readership that, unlike 2000, there will be no web-bubble because start-ups are typically not purchased without demonstrating a potential to generate profit.
What all these suits seem to be missing is that Free Software exists, as a giant exit door, that could evacuate a large fraction, if not majority, from the surveilled, corporate web in a matter of months into a reactionary darknet built on, perhaps, webs of trust. The ephemeral and limitless nature of software, the virility of memes, the availability of encryption, and the well-established short-lifespan of internet communities all suggest that the current Facebook/Twitter empire is founded on sand.
Which is the likelier possibility: Tech-dumb investors are being fleeced by Silicon Valley which is well aware the clock is ticking on the current hegemony of monied websites? Or that the days of the free internet itself themselves numbered, and soon users will be shepherded into a locked-down, Compuservesque network which preempts the possibility of communicating online without using approved channels?
In either possibility, why is this not talked about more? All Free Software needs, at this point, is a Steve Jobs to bring our superior software ecosystem to the masses, and sell users on the benefits of direct, peer to peer communication omitting corporate in-betweeners. I am sure that day is coming, what clues have you seen in your long-time involvement in the software world which might affirm or relieve my concerns? Because either way, the information economy is in for a shock I don't think it is prepared for, and the results could be devastating.