With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web. Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google. If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.
The silos did help mainstream users form communities. This is still useful—carriers of rare diseases can organize on Facebook, stuff like the ‘TomNod’ group that coordinates to scan satellite photos. On Twitter, humor and art (pixel art, for instance) communities formed that can be casually observed by other Twitter users—bolstering their exposure.
But even all this traffic has become a bad thing! For instance, there is no ‘surfing’ any more (in the mainstream). For the most part, traffic just shows up. You don’t have to look for blogs because Facebook and Twitter stuff you with whatever they please all day.
My relationship is a lot healthier with blogs that I visit when I please. This is another criticism I have with RSS as well—I don’t want my favorite music blog sending me updates every day, always in my face. I just want to go there when I am ready to listen to something new. (I also hope readers to my blog just stop by when they feel like obsessing over the Web with me.)
Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0. Facebook and Twitter were not even around. It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun.
This isn’t completely true—mailing lists and forums were a big source of real blog readers. Like Usenet before them. Google was a source of poor, transient traffic. In those days, you could share your writings/findings with fans of a certain band or movie director (if that was your topic) by posting on their forum, just as you would with Reddit. (And links were shared on forums and mailing lists.) However, now you can get algorithmed to death. Your link can get lost in the feed before anyone sees it.
I think the best thing the silos brought was simply the ability to be notified of a reply without needing to check your server logs.
But I appreciate your perspective, Brad. I wish I agreed more on this one! Maybe in time.