The Death of the Internet
This is another case of Facebook providing me with material.
“Lol! Your rebuttal to everyone’s opinion that his speech was amazing is a blog written by YOU? I can’t get off the floor, I’m laughing so hard! . . .” Mary Ganis on Facebook in response to one of my posts, a response to the President’s SOTU, which was simply a link to a post of mine on another site, A Dangerous Speech.
How dare I offer up a blog written by me.
The internet came into existence in the mid-nineties, and no doubt it thrives today, but a piece of the internet is gone. It is done.
Originally the internet was a small group of academics that used it for file sharing. It was simply a way to share their research, data and various papers among themselves. that was the original intent of the internet, at least the abridged story. Enter the Netscape Browser, and soon after the arrival of commercial enterprises. Shortly after that you had Amazon arrive. Back then it was Amazon and E-Bay. Google arrived a few years later. Jump ahead to 2007, and we had the advent of smart phones and social media.
So the internet and likewise the World wide Web is far from dead. Today, we have the beginnings of the Internet of Things. And soon enough we have the coming of 5G, the next generation of mobile connectivity. These standards define how data is transmitted, transferred. Wireless phone networks and the internet are merging. What were two different beasts are becoming or basically are one today. All of that innovation in one’s hands, in one’s pocket or purse!
So it is far from dead.
Yet a piece of it is. I point back to the quote I offer up top. “Your rebuttal to everyone’s opinion that his speech was amazing is a blog written by YOU?”
How dare I offer up a response, and to expect it to be considered. How silly of me! Yet when the Internet and the web first arrived that was the hope. It was seen as a tool of democracy. A platform for all to express their opinions, hopes and dreams. Of course, the question becomes how do you manage all of those opinions, all those pages, posts and blogs? It quickly becomes an ocean of crap. So perhaps the dream was not realistic from the beginning.
Regardless, there was something there. There was the idea, the hope that all can offer up interesting ideas and positions, regardless of one’s place, and the web would be a platform for such. It was seen as a way to express one’s self. This hope appealed to our ideals regarding freedom of expression and the value of diversity. It becomes another marketplace of ideas, another meritocracy, a place where the better ideas, the more useful and interesting ideas can rise to the top as opposed to being lost in an ocean of crap. Of course, some value a compost pile.
That is different from what we have today. Few folks offer up their lone blog and posts today. They are out there, but have to be searched for. What we have today are major news sites and various writers and commentators associated with each. Smaller sites today imitate larger sites in their look and feel. You will find the graphics and arrangement of content almost identical. Making it impossible at times to differentiate sites.
And these sites are commercial ventures today. The New York Times recently acknowledged their goal of 10 million digital subscribers by 2025 and $800 Million in digital sales by 2020. The idea of a private individual expressing their opinion has nothing to do with this. This is pure commerce.
Further, those subscribing to the New York Times can be defined pretty quickly. Most live on the two coastlines of the United States. Again the type of information we get, where we get it, and what we do with that information is so tied to who we are, what we believe, what we value. This is not surprising, but the consequences of such had not been thought out when we moved our lives online. And for those who think this is unique to the New York Times, just think Breitbart or Infowars.
This idea of expression versus commerce can especially be seen in music. Rockers were fascinated with the potential of the web in the mid to late 90’s. Musicians and artists saw it as a way to have direct access to their fans. (Hmmm. That does remind me of a current political phenom, No doubt!) The hope was that they would no longer need their record labels. They could just focus on their music and share it with their fans courtesy of the World Wide Web. And today we do have Sound Cloud and other sites such as Pledge Music. Reverb Nation was another I use to go to. So there are some cool sites out there, but the idea of just maintaining a simple website for all to come to never happened. No.
So when I say the internet died, I am pointing to the hope of individuals being able to simply express themselves and more importantly being heard on it. The reason for that not happening are many. It is in part because it was a pipe dream to begin with. In the end it comes down to that the web is not all that different from the rest of the world. It offers some hope, some opportunity, but a lot of shit too. And like the rest of the world, when one is mocked and told that their opinion does not matter, the common and appropriate response is the middle finger.