There were good things about MySpace, but there's a reason FB and its ilk came to dominate the user adoption numbers.
The primary reason for MySpace's userbase crashing was the founders exiting after the News Corp acquisition.
If Facebook had been acquired instead and stopped innovating at the same time they wouldn't have things such as the like button, status updates, or feeds.
They brought those things in frantically to knock off Twitter just like they've been knocking off snapchat recently.
Users these days seem to be totally delighted by decking out selfies with icons and tacky animations. They seem to be completely alright, and by in large prefer it when videos play at full volume by complete surprise, automatically when scrolling and flipping.
Be weary of projecting your personal aesthetic tastes on the population at large
Ha! we were too naïve, it has just given societies the means to be more dysfunctional than they possibly could with non-interactive media. Information is just money, it doesn't need to be true to have a definite value. Your personal information is money, where you are, who you are, what you're browsing is money. Politics don't matter any more, because they can be fixed by retconning and you won't notice, you won't care, because what matters is the constant flow of shiny glimpses of happiness you could get some day or you simply wish you had any chance to get close to, all at your fingertips waiting for your input. All these interactive ephemera are provided by some corporation in exchange for your consumer profile. And if you feel that there's not much freedom nor much opportunity after all, well there's room at the conspiracists alley for you, you're more than welcome.
Somehow it reminds me of noise versus signal. Having "more" doesn't mean having more of what you want, on the contrary. It's an usual system design actually.
Reminds of the notion of price. Price is more than cost of parts and labor. You give a perfect item for free and nobody will take it. There's a relativity to effort. You value what you pay for. And it's bidirectional; people put price at what they value the sale. Then balance occur.
Same goes for communication it seems. You give wikipedia and lolcats for free.. but lot more people don't value knowledge  but laughter is always good. Climate allows for this kind of growth.
At the same time, when people have insight and ambition, they'd gladly pay 1000$ for "guaranteed and efficient" lessons because they plan to turn it into 4000$ monthly, so free DIY knowledge is also not really a necessity. Not that I dislike it. I despise information lockdown and like to explain things for free. But there's a tension needed for people to learn and change their mindset (learning is not very easy).
About the journalistic side of information you described, it's all sadly true. We also had a sad lesson with the web. Stored and vetted knowledge means zero in a mob context. Tribal reflexes will win. How crazy is that.
 social paradox, society is ignorance and specialization, so knowing more than what gives you your place in society is somehow waste.
It seems like the corporate tech space is full of people trying to be Stakhanovite Heroes of Accumulative Capitalism, where all interactions are valued according to their contribution to the company bottom line, closely shadowed by the company brand.
That doesn't leave much room for the things that make being human fun.
If you want to publish your fully static site with a tiny footprint that just displays documents then feel free. I'll be over here with group video chat, collaborative editing, and more.
It's not about the capabilities, it's about the impact they have. Most users today will just opt for the defaults (FB, and other crap).
Not sure if that was a very universal experience, but it does give you an example.
likewise, shared/live-playlist making would be very popular among my friends.
"The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links."
This ignores the backroom deals that were happening between orgs to cross-link to each other even before concerns about SEO (and the original algorithms sensitive to link-frequency that were game-able by adding bunches of links to a page) became significant. There's always been some flavor of pay-to-play and favor-exchange in links (though there are certainly also people who would link to things because they believed they were good or useful, but of course, that is still true today).
"In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company, even if you documented the protocol and encouraged others to clone the service, you’d be described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act."
We've had thirteen years of experience since then to show us the risks and failure-modes of every service on the planet trying and failing to get secure authentication correct. If anything, the modern web still has too many sites trying to handle username and password when they should be using one of the SSO options instead.
"In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity."
First of all, I'm not sure what we mean by 'social web' and 'own identity' precisely here, but every email address I owned through college and after was provided by some @corporation.com provider (up until I registered my own domain backed by Google Apps). But if Anil is referring to the notion of personal pages: unfortunately, people don't want to maintain their own infrastructure. I still have my own personal page, but its uptime is not as reliable as my Facebook profile. Nobody wants their personal page to be unreachable when a potential employer is trying to check on it. This nice-to-have runs afoul of the general issue "Not everyone is a sysadmin or web developer, so someone is probably maintaining your service for you." The social networks just moved the maintain-for-you question from the service layer all the way to the application layer.
"Five years ago, if you wanted to show content from one site or app on your own site or app, you could use a simple, documented format to do so, without requiring a business-development deal or contractual agreement between the sites."
I'll have to take Anil's word for this; this is the first time I've ever heard of oEmbed. That leads me to assume it was never widely adopted, but perhaps I am wrong. AFAICT, it's not a w3c standard, so I assume Anil's using some creative license with the "you could use" notion here. I think he may also be loosely applying the concept of "user experiences weren’t subject to the vagaries of the political battles between different companies," since nothing in the spec suggests to me that a content provider couldn't sniff the requester and respond with "LOL, no", but perhaps I'm missing something in the details.
"they’ve now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don’t realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be"
I think Anil may be committing the sin of assuming users are like him, the web developer. Users aren't. It's entirely possible and extremely likely that what we're pointing to here as errors in the development of the web were features that enabled a hundred million new users to come online.
Most of my relatives were not going to configure their own website to host their profile or skin their own Myspace page. Most of them don't know HTML. Most of them have a Facebook account because FB doesn't require any of that from its end users; it just works.
Now, a much larger portion of the general population is online and, whaddya know?, the internet is dominated by a few big players great at exploiting a large market who have catered their offerings towards that very large non-technical majority. The web has been ruined only in the sense that everything is ultimately ruined by over-popularity.
It's certainly a shame, but is it really a surprise?
What I am quite enjoying nowadays is the resurgence of a more creative side to the web amongst people beginning to react against the dominance of social media sites. The pendulum always swings the other way eventually.
So glad to see some hope here. Would you have any good examples of this trend you describe? I'd like to be more familiar with the space, like Mastodon, numerous libraries of decentralized, distributed, privacy-conscious, user-centered, self-hosted approaches..
Seemed to work well enough there.