> Maybe part of the solution is regulatory, no technological
Hampering interoperability might be interpreted as abuse of dominance as defined by Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (▻http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:12008E102)... But you’ll have a hard time building a convincing case when the “product market” (as defined by same article) arguably encompasses all equivalent services between which users switch easily (see Signal’s signup spike when Whatsapp became temporarily banned in Brazil). POTS was heavily regulated because no such market diversity existed, so the dominance and abuse thereof were obvious.
Email is driven by standards-based interoperability because it grew up at a time where no one was seeing value in owning users... That era is past, even though we enjoy its legacy.
Service/standard adoption are investment driven:
– Investment in development
– Investment in usage (yes, for a user, setting up a system and learning its use is an investment)
Now, think about why the developer (in the business sense, not the technical one) and the user would invest ?
For the user, it is all about innovation: given acceptable levels of service, the user will switch to where the exciting new functionality is (see Simon Wardley’s works for this line of argumentation). Decentralized loses because innovation requires consensus - working with standards body is a long tedious slog... So time to market will be unacceptable or at least it will be to late for any competitive advantage. So it follows that businesses will only standardize if they have no choice but delivering an interoperable solution because they don’t have a strong market position - otherwise, fuck standards: either the customers will eat whatever the dominant provider feeds them or the provider better deliver exciting functionality before anyone else if they want to keep growing.
Even merely opening an API to third-party clients is a threat to that model: it freezes the service in its current form, thus slowing functional change... Businesses don’t want that - except when the customers put interoperability before other functionality, which seldom happens.
As for some hope for the free world ? As I said - and as David Cridland explains, it lies in a revolution in contact discovery. Who knows if a cryptographic protocol could let users expose chosen bits to chosen interlocutors in a distributed way (did anyone say “blockchain” ?)... I have no idea and it is a hard problem - seen Moxie’s take on this (notably the mention of encrypted bloom filters): ►https://whispersystems.org/blog/contact-discovery - posted by @stephane a couple of years ago. David Cridland offers the less utopian idea of a centralized directory for the open world... It could surely work and it might even be sufficiently cheap to be fundable - but what a SPOF in every dimension !