If you really want to make the internet great again, you’re suggesting there’s a moment of greatness. And I’m old enough to remember what that moment was. It was the early ’90s, when the internet was a place where people brought out their best. They wanted others to be seen as upfront and with good ideas, with the primary goal being to build better approaches to everything. We were having discussions, trying to figure out how to do the government better, how to improve the economy, how to understand physics and space travel and everything.
To use the Internet, you had to sign a digital agreement stating that you would use it for research and non-commercial purposes only, and that this was a public park. Because of that, it has generated a positive, collaborative and collaborative intellectual spirit. But when the internet opened up for commercial interests, the goal was to use these platforms to make as much money as possible.
Unlike most Internet applications, which were all about communication and sharing, the Web looked more like television. And the way TV understands how to make money is to get people’s attention and sell them things. You have companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo! And Amazon is taking something like a turbo-charged TV as they saw it. So people compulsively click and buy more things and reveal more about themselves.
This is not good, because when the goal of technology is to extract as much data, money and fear as possible, it makes people less happy and productive than if you were improving technology to enhance our ability to communicate, collaborate, and collaborate with each other. Big platforms make more money by alienating people. This is because if people are spending time with each other making love or playing cards or something like that, the giants lose engagement and money.
I always thought it was stupid to put a business on the Internet. The Internet was like a playground – a bit like a fantasy RPG or a rave game. All of the sudden banks and companies come to play fictional roles.
The story of GameStop and AMC is really interesting: it shows one of the ways we are bringing the Internet back to online play. The kids made short presses on AMC or GameStop, with no intention of really making money – most of them just wanted to take down the bad guys. So one possibility is that we all go in as activists and comically hack people and start destroying massive groups.
Another possibility is that we only allow them [the megacorps] You have the Internet. Now everyone is online, maybe we can get the real world back.
Another possibility is that we make another network. It will be built on the original network principles, but will probably have a bidirectional link so it will have a different dynamic. If everyone with links gets hooked up again, it becomes more of a real peer-to-peer thing than just extracting and linking all of your values. To prevent megacorps from misbehaving or dominating, it would require rules, so you can kick someone out if they don’t act.
The current network is almost killed anyway because of all the streaming media out there – the network isn’t a good place to do Netflix and Disney+. It’s too much bandwidth for the network to handle, which is why it’s struggling in the COVID era. Imagine how fast a new network would be if you didn’t have these giant TV companies trying to use it!
We can easily treat the entire Internet as an open, peer-to-peer web, rather than using these proprietary cloud services. We could be the cloud: Everyone’s computers joined as a giant torrent network. This will distribute all the files, so that all of the internet’s content ends up on all of our devices – not out in the desert on the massive air-conditioned server farms of Amazon, Google or Facebook. The only reason you need those farms and it’s all because of the highly inefficient way this data is presented to us.
The giant corporations have planted the seeds of their own destruction. There is karma. It will come back and hit you, which is what the big hedge funds are seeing now. They’re like, “Oh my God, for all the super-fast trades, some kid on Reddit could actually cost us $5 billion. That’s not true!” But that’s the internet f**king. What did you expect? This is a play space. This is not a force space.
Interview by Alice Lipscombe-Southwell
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