We demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places…
…the increasing centralization of the Web has ended up producing — with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform — a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human
When the creator of the modern web is telling you that it is failing, it’s a good idea to listen.
The world wide web is fractured.
Anyone and everyone in the know knows this.
In fact, it’s better to describe, the Internet, as being in a cold-war-like state right now.
There’s a bunch of powerful folks on opposing sides that are struggling against one another to control the Internet right now and they have the resources to fight this thing out for decades to come.
The sad part for us is, no matter who wins, we lose.
And understand this. They don’t want you to read this article. Articles like these are red pills in a sea of unconsciousness producing blue ones.
Watch this, laugh at that, #happy
There is a silver lining.
Berners-Lee and others like him are working on practical solutions. Newer, and more natural versions of the web we know.
The foundation for this new Internet is already laid, and it's just now starting to take form.
Let me take you back to where this story all started for me because it’s important.
I remember when the Internet was being released to the world.
There was a buzz in the air. It was being discussed on the telly, in the papers and in magazines. I remember my dad telling me about it, he was saying how it was going to revolutionize everything. I didn’t really understand what he was saying but I could tell he was excited and that excitement rubbed off on me.
Even my fifth-grade teacher Mr. Rolf, a retired Australian Army officer was randomly interjecting “The Internet” into every possible discussion he had with the students. Now that I think about it he was probably some kind of sneaky early investor in eBay or something.
And then eventually, I remember getting it.
My dad and my older brother sat there hooking it up one summer afternoon. I was sitting there watching from over their shoulders. I was eager to use it but didn’t really know what it was about. Kind of like that feeling you get as a kid when you are old enough to stay up and celebrate New Year’s but you have no idea why the adults are slamming champagne and getting all hysterical about a new date, and yet you feel the excitement - it’s special somehow.
I couldn’t wait for my turn.
Eventually, a few days went by and my older brother left his room which is where the Internet was connected and I jumped into the chair. I remember this next part so vividly I can still feel it, the chair that is, to this day, as cliche as it sounds, it was just like yesterday.
I remember sitting in the chair, it was a weird mauve-colored thing wrapped in this old type of fabric, it had proper armrests and a futuristic leaned-back function which was uncommon at the time (pretty sure my dad stole it from the fiber optic cable company he worked at before he was made redundant). It may as well have been a friggin time machine!
Staring at the screen that was propped up on yellow pages (sign on the times?) on the rear end of the desk, I turned it on, waiting for it to do its thing, then connected the modem, listening to that well-known sound, opening up Internet Explorer and then navigating to one of the early web search engines, I can’t quite remember if it was Ask Jeeves or Web Crawler but then pausing for a moment…
…what was I doing? What was I going to search for? Wow, this was something new.
Searching, prior to this was done with the Encyclopedia Britannica or a library Microfilm reader.
I’m getting tingles right now just thinking about it.
For the first time, all around the world 10-year-old kids just like me were given a tool that would give them the answers to the Universe.
Enlightenment was ahead. Or at least that’s how it was described.
There are no words to describe how it felt. It's as if the adults had screwed up big time and were giving us kids their car keys, credit cards, and a set of matches all at once. Heh, Idiots.
My brain was void of words.
I was an empty vessel ready for the Internet…but still…what to look for? What to search for? It’s hard for me to pin down how long I sat there, just staring at the screen absently. It felt like an eternity but was probably more like 3 minutes.
The first things I searched for were; The Universe, how to meditate, and boobs.
As the months and years went by the web started to reveal itself to me and man was it cool; video games like Command & Conquer, Doom, Duke Nukem, and my older brother Leisure Suit Larry which I wasn’t allowed to play (God forbid I saw a horribly pixelated image of a woman in a bikini), websites like Internet Explorer is EVIL!, SpaceJam and AltaVista and then, of course, the new unreal tools we had like IRC chat. Chat, friggin chat! We could talk to one another, scheme adventures, and talk to cute girls, it was unfathomable coming from a suburban house where the method for talking to friends was a landline phone just weeks prior! And then, of course, Napster and computer-based MP3 players arrived!
Back then the Internet felt like being inside a crazy 1980’s video arcade carnival with music, girls, and skateboarding videos, and where you could pretty much do almost anything! It was a digital wild west for a kid my age.
Every vampire needs an invitation.
The likes of Yahoo, MSN, eBay, and Google soon came along. More and more of us connected to the web which meant more information was being uploaded and shared. The websites got bigger and more tools came along to make our lives just that little bit easier.
Essentially, we are to blame somewhat, we let them in.
With information and eyeballs came online advertising and these companies ballooned.
Only the strongest survived — Out of the dot-com crash that followed we were left with PayPal, MySpace, Google, and then eventually Facebook to name a few.
As they grew their power grew and as their power grew their control grew.
To give you an idea of what I am talking about, It’s estimated that 70% of the world's total web traffic flows through one small server farm county in Virginia! Google alone controls about 40% of the total web traffic at any one time. You add Facebook, Twitter, and the other handful of giants and you’re looking at what is most of the world's web traffic flowing through their hands all the time. That’s what control means.
Anything that has ever amassed power has been given a certain level of responsibility, but rarely is the power respected and the responsibility almost always mutates into authoritarian control.
In the beginning, they seemed to behave responsibly with this power, they gave us information, answers, knowledge, and the ability to communicate and share with the click of a button. Who doesn’t like FREE STUFF?!
We got emails, news, videos, fun, and laughter, we even made relationships, got married, and had kids all with the help of free stuff on the Internet. Sheesh. Could you blame us?
The more we used their so-called free services the bigger and more powerful they grew. By this stage, the organism was self-perpetuating.
But free is never free.
The billion-dollar warning and the fine print we never read was the deal that sealed our fate.
Bedroom-dwelling, video game-playing, comic book-reading nerds were now billionaires and it wasn’t just one or two of them, this was happening everywhere.
Google 23 Billion, PayPal 800 Million, Amazon 300 Million, eBay 1 Billion, YouTube 1.6 Billion…
Hell, you didn’t even need to be directly offering a web service at that time. You just needed to be in anything semi-Internet and computer related.
At the same time as the Internet was taking off so was Microsoft. When they went public, instantly overnight 4 billionaires were created and somewhere in the area of 12,000 millionaires!
That is insane. That level of money breeds the very power and control described.
It was a big fat fucking warning we didn’t recognize.
Two to tango.
Free news, free videos, free email, free match-making…we were obsessed.
It was a cornucopia of free! We’d become addicts, heads glued to our screens and all of that free shit began to remove our very freedom. Intellectually, financially, socially, mentally, and emotionally.
That’s when the real warnings began to be publicized. Hacks and leaks started to be reported but we didn’t care. It was too late.
By this time we were friends.
Not even the likes of Julian Assange or Edward Snowden could break the spell. They risked their lives to tell us the truth. They told us explicitly that not only are we the product of these machines but that we were literally being treated as enemies of the state and spied on, recorded, bugged, followed, and traced, every conversation monitored, every movement recorded like a literal prisoner. Or worse, like cattle.
“Why should I care if they’re listening to me, I’ve done nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide”
If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard from friends or family members…
This is the mentality of someone who is sick and doesn’t know it. Blinded only by the need to get their fix.
And this isn’t even the worst of it on a global scale.
At least our governments and private sectors care just that little bit to pretend to have some kind of morality and ethics codes.
People in mainland China, on the other hand, are having their movements tracked, their faces scanned, voices recorded, and possessions monitored and their government controllers are deciding on a minute-by-minute basis via social digital frameworks whether they can travel on a plane, get a loan or even go on a date! The suppression of life is evil.
Every reaction has an opposite and equal reaction.
Back to that silver lining, I mentioned earlier. I told you there was a cold-war playing out.
In war, there’s always a good and bad side. And sometimes it is hard to tell friends from foe.
We’re lucky in a way though, because they’re all bad!
All of the bad guys are fighting each other at the moment for control over us.
It’s us V them. But what can we do?
The Miracle of Open Source
Linus Torvalds and his Linux creation was the reaction to Microsoft in a similar digital war that played out some years ago.
That war evolved and so have the sides. Some say it never ended. But the important thing was that for the first time ever, on a large scale anyway, we showed the world and proved to ourselves that we could come together from near and far to work on projects that benefited all of us.
It was called Open Source.
Where there was once a few big Open Source projects there are now thousands being created and worked on as we speak. In November of this year, GitHub took the time to thank coders when they reached a milestone of over 100 Million Repositories.
Not to get all melodramatic on you but these Open Source projects are the reaction to the dark side of technology, to the dark side of the Internet. These projects, these community projects are the light that pierces the dark.
But even that, GitHub itself, the modern-day home of Open Source and the most popular version control code repository on the planet is threatened by the recent takeover by Microsoft.
The only way to secure our Internet is to take it back. The problem is that these large corporate war mongrels control the field of play. They control the servers, they control the flow of traffic, and they control the network.
A New Strategy: The Genesis Application
If you’ve paid any attention at all to any of my previous articles you’ll know I am referring to the SAFE Network.
The SAFE Network is the NEW Internet!
A fully autonomous and decentralized private network with safety and anonymity coded into its very core. Built by humans, for humans, and with zero centralized control.
Do yourself a favor and go read up on what SAFE is doing if you haven't already your future self will thank you for it later, trust me.
The SAFE Network, however, can only do so much. You see, SAFE provides the foundation and the access doors so to speak. It’s like a giant building made of concrete with all of the plumbing and electrical plumbed and wired in, the lights work, the toilets flush, and there are doors, windows and even working elevators but it needs to be filled.
This Genesis application that I speak of is being designed to do just that.
Introducing SAFE Drive.
SAFE Drive is an easy concept to understand. It’s like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Instead of being on the world wide web where it risks being attacked, pillaged or purchased (or having those things happen to its users), Its home will be on the secure and decentralized SAFE Network.
The longer version is that it’s a virtual decentralized file storage and retrieval tool built using NodeJs. SAFE Drive will enable you to access global network data as if it were on your local drive, read and write access, it’ll allow you to create public names (domain names), upload websites and content, modify permission access, secure access to truly private information, safe storage… the list goes on and on.
You’ll notice I refer to SAFE Drive as a Genesis Application. It really is that important. I’ve chosen my words carefully.
The ability to easily upload, download or amend your photos, intellectual property, legal documentation, music and audio files, film and video, websites, code, databases, and applications is of immense importance when we consider a new Internet.
That building needs filling and SAFE Drive will allow regular people like you and I from all over the planet to do just that.
When the World Wide Web took off it didn’t just go off like a rocket. All of those games, early websites, and adventures I went on as a kid were possible because someone uploaded that stuff to the web! And so it is the same with SAFE.
Here’s what David Irvine the creator and founder of the SAFE Network had to say about SAFE Drive recently in a forum post:
SAFE Drive will not only attract users to the network but it’ll also give rise to new applications, tools, websites, and other creations.
Because here is the thing, SAFE Drive is being designed with Git compatibility in mind.
Once that part of SAFE Drive is complete, it’s game over for the elitist technocrats because you can’t control what is on the SAFE Network and when the network attracts other developers who start their own projects, who then invite others, it’s destined to go viral (son of a flip, I hate that word)!
The power of both the Open Source and SAFE community as a whole is staggering and it still surprises me to this day.
To give you a little clue as to how well our community functions, one of my friends contacted me and told me that Mark a.k.a @happybeing was working on this cool new thing that would help take SAFE Network to the masses (SAFE Drive) and that he was looking for folks to help him out.
From that little message we now have a small team of collaborators working to help push it along. None of us are being paid and yet none of us are being forced to do it, we do it because we believe in it and because we want it to succeed.
The SAFE community is strong and dependable. But we can’t do it alone.
People like you are what make these things work. People, in general, are what makes anything work. Without people, the Internet would just be empty.
There are different ways you can help build the new Internet. And you don’t even need to be a programmer.
Are you a coder? DIVE straight in — Here is a link to SAFE Drive on Git!
Technically inclined but not a coder? Go here to help with testing! It’s easy.
Want to learn more? Start here by going to the SAFE Network Community Forum.
What are you waiting for?
The future is depending on you.
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