The New World Of The Internet
The face of the Internet has changed drastically in the last 10 years, and now everyone is starting to come to terms with it. The recent scandals that have rocked the online world feel like only the beginning of the “privacy revolution”, and people are learning the hard way to keep their privacy online – or at least be informed about it!
And how about the ‘Internet of the People”, where things online are checked, sourced and to be trusted? Can we really trust anything that appears online anymore? The internet of the people would be a certainty everything you do on there is used with the utmost care, so you can log into your online casino to play online roulette without the fear your data may be used elsewhere or not.
So how do you feel about it? Are you conflicted about using Facebook when you know it’s harvesting your data and subverting democracy? Alexa is eavesdropping on our personal conversations and we immediately get served ads online for topics we just discussed verbally with our friends. Basically nothing is private anymore. Cyber surveillance is no longer a myth, not when we are always carrying a smartphone in our pockets, which listen to us, track our movements and upload our metadata to multiple servers.
Slacktivism and clicktivism
Much has been written about ‘slacktivism’ or hashtag activism; people supporting a cause by liking something on Facebook or signing an online petition, but not actually taking action. We all have friends like that on social media – people who get very excited about a cause and talk about it non-stop… for a day or two. And then they move on to another story, a cause, or pictures of LOL cats!
This obviously creates a problem for the real causes, where people or issues need consistent action or support. Just because people have signed one cool petition, which made them look really interested in cause, the problems don’t go away. But it creates a situation where the causes that are “not cool anymore” are ignored and discarded, only because of the short attention span of the social media.
Another potential problem is the difference in values between the corporations behind social media, and the protest movements themselves. Can you still believably use Facebook to reach people when you’re protesting against the excesses of capitalism, or in defence of online privacy? Even when you know the social network has leaked personal data from 87 million users to political advertising company Cambridge Analytica, which used the data to campaign for Brexit and Donald Trump? The scandals behind the Facebook, Google and other giants of the online world are getting hushed up and forgotten – but it doesn’t mean that these corporations are no longer pursuing the same goals for their own profit.
Internet of the People
Due to all this dishonesty and, often, blatant corruption, a new movement has been rising up online, dubbed ‘The Internet of the People”. The internet might be the best tool we have to connect and create a truly global community. What we need is a radically new system, an ‘Internet of the People’. This is a new paradigm, where humans and personal devices are not seen as just ‘end users’ of applications but become active participants in the Internet.
This is not a replacement for the current infrastructure. Instead, it uses the legacy Internet services as a reliable base to obtain end-to-end, safe and encrypted connectivity on truly global scale. This is not a new idea by far, but in this new world of ubiquitous internet and ever-present electronic devices, this dream can finally become the reality.
In a way, the internet of the people is a community network, a new way to connect. It is capable of delivering access to underserviced areas, with the existing infrastructure being used to connect people, groups, organisations and ideas.