Imagining a better internet
“O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
I was a voracious reader and super-curious kid all through school: I would have been over the moon if I had woken up one morning as a 12-year-old to discover a magic typewriter on my desk that could help me find the answer to almost any question imaginable, show me photos and moving pictures of distant lands and planets, let me listen to spoken languages from anywhere in the world and almost instantly learn about news events anywhere on the globe.
That vision was the promise of the internet at its best. While we do have all those good things today, we have more besides… much of it vile or cynical, manipulative or vicious, intrusive or inflammatory, wicked or deceitful. In a way, it’s a digital near-simulacrum of the physical-world human condition… as if every person, corporation and other institution on the planet had a three-dub doppelganger.
But it’s not, really. The Web remains a playground, library, town commons or battlefield for only a select portion of humanity… many still have no voice on it — not yet, at least — and even most of those who do hold little sway or command much interest.