On The Future Of The Internet

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Here’s another one I’ve been meaning to write for a while…but was afraid I’d sound too “negative”…but why not?

First of all: do not consider any blogging/social media/video platform you use for free as being set up for your express benefit. Yes, in many (most?) cases, your info is being harvested one way or another…and that’s the sorta “handshake” you make with the platform, per its Terms Of Service, in order to use the site.

But beyond that—all the content you have on there could be jeopardized at any moment unless you have a backup. These platforms reserve the right to block your content at their whim or at the pressure of outside forces.

In the future of the Internet, a LOT of people are gonna get kicked off these platforms for various reasons. One will be copyright violations; disputing the user’s “fair use” claim. That’s gonna end up gutting quit a bit of YouTube; especially reviewers, fan video makers, and etc.

Then you’re going to have an expanded definition of content not allowed on the platform. And that’s going to encompass everything from sexual topics, politics, basic dank memes, weird opinions, and etc.

I give the full roll-out of this “purge” well within 3 years. And you’re going to see this impact most greatly on YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, and whatever the new Facebook is going to be, among others. Free blog platforms, too.

And speaking of free blog platforms…there’s also going to be a purge of “old” websites. I think in the “old days” of the Internet, you could count on some Blogger or other type free website that some person did to stay up indefinitely. Even after the person dies…that site is up for years and years and years. That’s largely going to be cleaned out. These free platforms are going to be very strict as to make sure the users are currently engaged with the platform. So you gotta, basically…use it or lose it.

Mind you, all I’ve written so far—I’m not giving a value judgement on it. I’m just “forecasting” what is most likely to happen.

As the years go on, there will be more and more options in place to completely wall yourself away from trolls, abusive persons, dissenting opinions, and generally anybody you no longer want to interact with. What you’re going to have are more and more “walled gardens.” The idea of the Internet as this big “melting pot” of ideas and people is going to go away.

And part of this is because…we’re going to be operating within a multitude of “mini-societies” that are increasingly fragmented and walled-off from each other. And these “mini-societies” are going to be more and more strict about what you can and cannot think or say in order to be allowed to stay. This covers the entire ideological gamut, from Left to Right.

Now, in terms to a number of sites we almost think of as “public utilities”…they are going to get bought up by corporations, or, if they have already been bought (see: Reddit) the corporate/monetizing element is going to be far more blatant. And some will “die” under this control, and some will flourish (albeit not for the reasons the site was first built for).

There are going to be less “legit” news media sites…but the ones that remain are going to absolutely have pay walls (and probably a “subscription card” for multiple related sites). You are either going to pay for this quality content…or use bottom-of-the-barrel sites that are just a horror of multiple intrusive ads, data-mining, and political bias.

This will all squeeze the independent producers of media content—the indie bloggers, if you will. In order for them to survive, they are going to get more “grass roots” via the use of newsletters (including possibly even old-school paper ones), message boards, and basically the cultivation of Community.

Certainly, net neutrality, in one way or another, is going away. So a lot of that culture of like “unlimited” downloading, streaming, etc. will be going away too—unless you got the money for it.

There is going to be a push to have all media—books, music, games, video, etc.—streamed & “saved” to a cloud rather than you “owning” any type of copy of it. And this is media that can, and will, be periodically “updated” by the entity who “sold” it to you. Which means: it can be altered.

Sites/platforms where people can discuss sexual issues and do meetups and stuff are like…largely going away. The ones that remain will feel more and more open to privacy violations. A lot of this will go deep underground, though I think more “old school” means of meeting up with likeminded people will make a big comeback.

Basically: any type of method of exchanging ideas/meeting up/building a community that is more “old school” will make a comeback. And this is because it will feel abundantly clear by that point that nothing you have digitally—no file, nothing on the cloud, texts, stuff on your phone, “private” messages, etc.—is guaranteed to really be “private.” Any of it can be accessed at any time, if someone powerful or “hacky” enough chooses to do so.

The letter you hand-write and mail will be more secure than your PM. That is what I’m telling you.

As for me…you know, I pay a little under $150 a year for both this site and Fantasy Merchant (donation button to your right if you’re reading this on a computer screen) , including urls and space. Because I pay $, I expect from the platform I use a certain level of “security.” And even then—I also archive my content separately. And I’m also considering a separate archive for the content like Archive.org.

There was a “golden age” of the Internet…a “wild west,” if you will. That is sort of waning now. But I think the need for good content, access to content, and privacy will never “die.”