[ExI] Is the old internet dying?
anders at aleph.se
Sat Jul 18 12:41:45 UTC 2015
In a sense the old internet has always been dying: we have changed the way we interact with it for 40 years. How many of the younger members of the list remember the excitement of manual FTP ("Wow, I am inside a computer in *Australia*!") or Gopher? How many truly miss those things?
Mailing lists are in many ways a somewhat obsolete and old-fashioned technology, but they are also robust and have affordances that are hard to beat. Same things for blogs. My prediction is that many of these protocols will remain essentially forever, even if the bulk exchange in society happens through the latest stream through somebody's cloud.
But the concern in the essay is of course that it matters where a society does its mainstream discourse. If it happens in a forum that can easily be censored or biased, it becomes very different from if it is a hard-to-censor diverse environment. And if important digital identities are tied to your participation, then people become extra loath to speak up (if Google decided to delete my googlemail account for some arbitrary crime against usage policies, I would lose access to my calendar and numerous important services). The problem here is not technology, but simply that most people do not care deeply about these things (as well as privacy, accountability and other important but abstract things).
Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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