Capitalism makes it increasingly difficult to escape the tentacles of the larger of the software companies these days. I have to be honest, I belong to the crowd shouting fire whenever it comes to Microsoft, and all of Bill Gates charitable giving can't help me get over ongoing frustrations about truly inferior products that he dumps on customers buying a new PC. I like Apple, but only because their machines are more stable and their software is plain more elegant. I am not a great fan of Mr Jobs and his company's unpleasant copyright hurdles either, when it comes to i-tunes, for instance, or the nonsense of the i-phone tied to an inferior service provider.
I like google a lot, because at least they offer free access to their services (well, not entirely free, as everyone concerned about privacy and data-mining knows). I've also since discovered open source replacements for MS Office, and truth be told, they work just fine (except... bummer ... they are free). Just search for StarOffice 8, download it free of charge and you'll see see what I mean. Equally, googles online word processing software and what it offers for collaborations is pretty cool. Still, I am concerned that pretty much all of my professional life (email, documents) sits on google servers, and is continuously analysed by the company's software. Fair enough, there is nothing there that I would be concerned about if it ever ended up by some accident or other in the public domain, but still, to entrust one company all of that content is a worry to me.
So, I was quite happy that instead of having to use google's Picasa's web albums to store my images there was an alternative, independent operator out there, not beholden to any kind of quasi-Orwellian outfit like google. I was delighted with the services Flickr provided. I am still delighted about Flickr. Sadly, a year or two ago Flickr was bought by another Silicon Valley internet behemoth, Yahoo. It bothered me a bit, but I didn't mind, at least it wasn't Microsoft, or so I thought.
Well, I'm sure you will have heard that Microsoft is now on the verge of gobbling up Yahoo, and with it Flickr and with it my photos (some 4000 or so, and counting). Try as hard as you may, it seems somehow that it's all just a matter of time until the small fish are either killed or incorporated into some larger company, until only few players will be left that pretty much own facilities most people use to store their content, edit documents etc.
Wasn't it an old bearded guy by the name Karl Marx who predicted that such is the nature of capitalism that invariably this would be the outcome? I am not a Marxist, not by a long stretch, yet he seems to have got it right on this one.