Let's get one thing straight: The Internet is dominated by a handful of corporate* websites that are for-profit. Government websites and personal hosting space are almost nonexistent; can you name a site that you regularly frequent that isn't corporate-run? When was the last time that one of your friends decided to invest in a few servers and implement something like IIS or FTP for hosting sites or files? Was it practical? Did it prove useful?
On the Internet these days, ads and unskippable commercials abound; incentive and encouragement are given to those who help the corporations in question make money -- so long as such people aren't associated with ideas antithetical to the corporations' pursuits, that is. If you don't give a particular site a bad image or speak out against it, you're acceptable; if you have an interest in genuine goals and completion of finite, quantifiable tasks, however, you're in trouble.
This problem is compounded by the fact that, not only is the Internet run by corporations, it's more or less run by a number of them no larger than the amount of fingers on your two hands. So long as the incentive for providing a web service is profit, no resultant product site is going to be geared toward encouraging people to better themselves, or work. Work, in this society, is not something that consumers do; it's something that producers do, and while most people take on both roles at various points in their lives, they almost never take them on simultaneously.
People aren't interested in making society better unless the betterment of society is incidentally profitable on a personal level, so if they're not getting paid -- especially if they're expecting to be provided a service for purposes other than "work" by someone who is getting paid -- they're not going to be interested in doing anything that isn't for themselves. And, as the saying goes, the customer is always right.
Or is he?
When you really think about it, it does seem as though the primary cause of the monopolization of the Internet is the apathy and selfishness of the average e-consumer. "Here's a new technology that allows you to make videos of yourself and broadcast them to thousands of people; do whatever you want with it except take your clothes off or badmouth us. Oh, and since you can do whatever you want with this functionality, there's no need to go to any other sites with similar functionality ever, ever again!"
This line of thinking keeps the website's superficial, outward integrity in tact while simultaneously enabling the customer to fulfill his every most base desire, regardless of how much of a waste of time the desire is when put into the context of a finite existence continuously guided by decision variables affecting all of sentient life. In other words, the owners of the website get richer by encouraging its users to use the service for pretty much any reason they want, which usually turns out to be one that doesn't involve helping someone else; in simplest terms, the website has no goals.
Sure, there is a distinction to be made between continuous goals and finite goals, and profit is a continuous goal, but what about the latter type? To me, a goal in the truest sense of the word is any completable construct representing the need for an object that can be quantified. For example, "make money," as previously noted, isn't really a goal per se, but "make X amount of money" is, as it contains a quantity variable, and, once the quantity is obtained, the goal ceases to exist.
The problem with our current framework for the Internet is that, not only does it disregard attainable goals, it actively seeks to prevent them from emerging, as it treats the Internet as an end in itself (for the consumer) or a means to the end of profit (for the producer) -- rather than as a means to any other imaginable end, including real, quantitative goals.
Without intervention from an external body -- whether a government or something similarly authoritative -- the Internet, like much of our economic system, will continue to foster goalless profit-seeking, which, while superficially beneficial to the consumer for mere minutes at a time, is ultimately only materially beneficial to a fraction of the human population smaller than the population of the average city. Perhaps someone unaffiliated with a particular website has brilliant ideas, or is working on a project that would be of interest to you, but because the project isn't in the best interest of the two or three major websites capable of hosting it, you never learn that it exists. What a travesty this is if true.
Imagine a world where websites actually promote goal creation and completion. By this, I don't mean vapid social networking "gaming dynamics" (i.e. allowing users to set commenting goals, story writing goals, etc.), which only encourage further self-absorption in the same manner that the video games after which they're modeled do; I mean things like providing propositions for a community, convincing others that your ideas are reasonable, and finding new avenues for promotion and discussion.
A real-world example might be something like a YouTube, Blogger, or even Wikipedia specifically geared toward philosophy, science, and social welfare vlogs/blogs/articles as opposed to just about any non-"offensive" videos or articles that one could imagine. A mission statement or declaration of methodology and goals would be evident everywhere on the site, and all users would be subject to bans based not on how their content affected others emotionally, but on whether the content was logical and conducive to the goals proposed by the site. There would be no owners, and everyone would have access to all editable components and modules.
In this scenario, suddenly, the aforementioned sites are no longer doing everything [legal] that they can in order to get ahead of everyone else; instead, they're working toward seeing demonstrable, practical results of proposed solutions to the world's problems. Users are encouraged not to simply behave themselves, but to actually do work. The dichotomy of user and designer has collapsed; everyone fulfills both roles simultaneously, creating a positive feedback loop of suggestion input and implementation. Everyone involved consumes resources or uses services in order to make other resources and services better, with the latter resources and services doing the same, etc., all to the end of improving society.
So long as problems exist, it should be every major organizational entity's goal to solve them. This goal can be broken into a plethora of sub-goals, of course, but it should nevertheless lie at the foundation of every organization's agenda, no matter the circumstance. Until we stop treating everyone as a source of our own personal satisfaction, though, this will not happen.
So just imagine it for a second. Imagine being able to edit someone else's blog, because you've both agreed beforehand on the direction and goals of the blog. Imagine participating on (and owning) a YouTube channel owned by fifty other people, each capable of uploading and favoriting videos. Imagine being able to, as something like a site moderator or administrator, suggest whether someone should be removed from the group or have their videos deleted, but not being able to actually do those things on your own without the input of the entire group. Imagine being able to alert everyone involved to potential areas of expansion. Imagine a website that exists not to provide people a service, but to get something done. People "get things done" and set goals all the time in their own personal lives, so why shouldn't a website advertise itself for this same purpose? A simple "Calling all interested parties: We need someone to start writing material on X subject. So and so is already working on Y subject, but if you think you have a better way, let so and so know" would suffice.
It would certainly beat what we currently have.
The interesting thing is that most of the above is possible right now on a small scale, but the services provided by the sites that can be used in this manner don't exactly help in any significant way. While it's certainly possible for you to write a blog or book on a topic that is actually important, without promotion from a major organization tailored specifically toward promoting and regulating content like yours, it probably isn't going to matter much.
Oh well. Until progress in this area is made, the alternative should be group YouTube channels, group blogs, wikis, etc.
* Wikipedia is an interesting exception. I'm in support of its method, but not its goals. Modern people tend to conflate method with goals quite often, which is unfortunate, because the technology is fantastic, in this case, and could be used in a more stringent and socially beneficial manner. Instead, Wikipedia contributors are content to delete articles for interesting ideas unfamiliar to the general public, for example, but if something which promotes horrible values is incredibly popular, it's "relevant" to humanity in some skewed way, and thus worthy of an article according to the site.
I'm not against providing or caching information on every conceivable topic, because free information, no matter how trivial, could prove useful to someone in the future. However, even if one concedes this, Wikipedia's only "goal" is to let people learn more about things they've already heard of. Popularity is only one form of relevance; relying on it to demonstrate the benefit of your website to society at large is, like democracy, a form of argumentum ad populum.