In the Beginning
I am sure there are some folks like me who were around when the typewriter was invented… no wait, I was not around for that. Or was I? Gah, I forget. Anyway, I was here when a company called Apple came out with the IIe, when Microsoft came out with a graphical operating system supporting multiple applications running at once, and when this strange little thing called “the world wide web” started it’s mainstream adoption across the planet.
Have you ever been in an unhealthy relationship? Friendship, romantic, professional, it doesn’t matter what kind. Just one of those relationships where you feel like you are being honest and forthcoming, really just wearing your heart on your sleeve and somehow. . . years later, you wake up and realize everything your other friends have been telling you is correct: your relationship is toxic, damaging and needs to either change or end.
That’s how I feel about my relationship to the “information superhighway.” Over the past few years, I have had this growing sensation that the relationship has changed. Today, I stumbled into a graphic that provided me a laugh. A sad laugh, at the expense of our beloved internet. Here is the picture:
Obviously the article is about the metaverse, and we’ll get to that topic later,but for the moment, may I draw your attention to the little dotted yellow line which the legend calls “Information Superhighway.” That’s the line which got my attention. It was an early term used to describe the internet and it died out around 2008. When I saw that little yellow line, it was the first indication I witnessed whereby someone besides me was willing to say…
The Information Superhighway is Dead
I know. That little yellow dotted line doesn’t exactly speak to it. Just hear me out. What I mean by the death of the information superhighway is: I can no longer easily find honest, fact-driven information on the internet. Maybe it is still hiding out there, but for a bulk of my queries what I get back is SEO content driven by influencers. That is still “information”, technically, but I used to be able to surf this gritty little internet and find two things which I think are more difficult to find:
- Unsophisticated down-home style content where someone, “Craigslist/Web1 style”, has curated some information and when I searched for the terms I would get these sites that contained the esoteric stuff I was seeking in a matter of fact, hey here is what I personally found, kinda way. Now, all that has been supplanted by SEO and affiliate marketing.
- Data. Back in the latter 2010s, “Web3” was supposed to be about bringing openness and data out of the Web1 and Web2 internet. That didn’t happen, and now Web3 inertia seems more about decentralized token economies and metaverses.
I borrowed the Web 1/2/3 scoping in part from this post – which seems about how I remember it going down. This shift also seems to align with that dotted yellow line. When the internet got traction in the late 1990s, it was ramping up on information. Information in the form of HTML, tables, and files. Web2 was more interactive, and even though there were VRML worlds in the 90s (that was awesome, btw. Thank you to everyone who built one and built the browser capability to rendered them), the move to this Web2 interactivity caused the “information superhighy” trend to fall off as social media and virtual realities came to town. Finally, somewhere around 2008, just like the graph, was the first year I remember trying to do some research and starting to have a challenge finding “non-influenced” content. I still could, and I did. But these days the internet feels like television — it feels bought and paid for by whoever is advertising.
The Move to Metaverse
To me “meta” means something completely different (I have hinted at it on other posts), but here we are with this push to Web3, moving to metaverses. I think the blockchain is compelling but its implementation to me has been highly lacking. I’ve engaged in several transactions that ended in my fiat currency getting permanently lost to wallet routing or to nefarious actors who get away with it (the transactions are there on the decentralized chain, but nobody knows who owns those wallets and there’s no “decentralized law enforcement” entity, right?). Fascinating stuff. Kinda like my doing business with the crooks at Allegiant Air, AT&T, CapitalOne Bank, etc, but I digress. We are promulgating the novelty of the internet, while leaving all the social challenges intact (finding less biased and empirical information, holding corporations accountable for their stewardship and service ethic, fragmenting our already complicated lives across multiple universes).
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”– Albert Einstein
Apparently paraphrasing quotes is my new jam, because, I don’t know whats going to happen with Web3, but Web4 is going to be chiseled on stone tablets if we don’t get our priorities straight. I love tech, and I am a futurist – but the future for the sake of feeling futuristic is just as primitive and savage a landscape until we evolve whole other facets of our existence. I miss Web1 because I believe it is still the future and we let it slip through our fingers almost 15 years ago. We’ve let the information superhighway become the influencers highway, we’ve let the internet become mainstream media, we’ve enabled internet censorship and taxation, we’ve lost a lot of ground on net neutrality and pretty sure the list goes on. Many steps back while moving forward with the “shiny new things.”
“I don’t know whats going to happen with Web3, but Web4 is going to be chiseled on stone tablets if we don’t get our priorities straight.”– MindFuel Blog
Yup – shamelessly quoting myself. Must be Web3. I’m still going for the utopian future. The one that brings out abundance for everyone, enables freedom, democracy and makes it easier for us to pursue our dreams. I think the Web1 internet is a huge enabler for this kind of future. Web2, Web3, WebNext should be built on top of solid Web1 information. Then, as I have mentioned a little over here, we got a whole slew of systemic “human” things we need to sort out before Web7 SmartMetachainParallelism will become broadly useful. #bringbacktheinformationsuperhighway