services like Facebook and Twitter are emerging as critical pieces of social infrastructure. It may be worth thinking of them as public goods. We know a lot of different ways to provision public goods – states maintain them using taxation, private entities build them and charge access fees, communities build them and rely on user support, NGOs provide services and use a hybrid of user fees, donations and foundation support. I don’t think it’s crazy to think that this might be how we choose to build social networks in the future… or perhaps if any of the tools we rely on becomes less reliable.
Fascinating concept. Back in the day, the postal service was a “critical piece of social infrastructure” also. So, are social networks the 21st century equivalent of the postal service? A public good that requires government attention. I’m obviously not saying that they should be run as an agency of government the way that the post office is. But government could underwrite social networks to ensure their ubiquity or availability?