In the beginning the Internet was full of promise. With the advent of the Internet, Humanity began connecting and communicating in ways that were never available before. Individuals from across the globe with various backgrounds and casts, were able to meet each other, share ideas, and get exposed to things that inspired us to reach for the stars.
Innovation exploded. Open Source projects that allowed practically anonymous contributions from millions around the world and accepted based on quality, escalated our technology to levels only dreamed about in science fiction novels.
A new frontier was discovered and every generation that followed jumped head first into the future.
Over time, it became apparent that the greatest value this new technology provided was communication and the ability to share ideas and content. Developers built platforms that enabled them to communicate quickly and efficiently in order to make changes to their source code as fast as possible. However, the rest of the world was still operating outside of these systems and needed to communicate more subjectively.
There was no formula yet for how the average person would communicate with the rest of the world, and many platforms were created to solve this problem. MySpace started out as a place for musicians to share their music. VampireFreaks began as a place for alternative culture to connect and share interests specific to them. Forums for everything from body-building, to photography popped up on the internet. Still, it took a while for a platform to be created that could be a place for people from the entire spectrum of personalities and interests to be created. Even in its beginning, Facebook targeted university students.
Eventually Twitter allowed people to connect with each other using keywords known as hashtags. This became the first place where individuals could show up en-mass and self-organize and communicate about what was important to them. The end result was a demonstration of it’s power and the world witnessed its catalytic powers during the Arab Spring.
Following Twitter, Facebook allowed the use of hashtags as well, and create user-groups that could promote and speak for themselves.
This newfound technology, now known as Social Media, became so popular that it is now the primary method of human communication for everything from news, to business, to keeping in touch with family and friends.
To deliver this technology to the people all over the world, these technologies needed corporate sponsorship.
Companies were created that could satisfy humanities demand for the instant, global social network that would catapult social issues and injustices into the forefront of business, politics, and local & federal governments globally.
These companies still operated within a traditional economy and were required to generate a profit. Even the most benevolent of organizations can’t operate with their books in the red forever.
To corporations the caveat was that the market was already used to the experimental nature of internet engineers, and the Open Source philosophy. Even though users never stopped to think why they could access these platforms for free, while every other service in the traditional economy had charged a minimum, they never questioned what they were signing up for. Corporations couldn’t begin to ask for payment for using their platforms, and instead asked for ownership of the data users generated on their platforms.
Often these demands were buried in long, complicated, and cryptic legal Terms of Service & Privacy Policies. The details are the subject of a complex, evolving debate in current times. However, to the general public it’s assumed that essentially every piece of information created on these platforms, unless explicitly stated, are property of the platform owner and they can do with it whatever they please.
This gave the corporations owning these platforms a business model. They could now essentially sell either the data itself, or access and insights into what the data says about their users. With ownership of the data, platforms began adjusting strategies to compete for users by providing them the most personalized and addicting experience possible.
Users were no longer aware of how their data was being used as they became more and more intimate with their choice of platforms.
The insights gleaned from hundreds of millions of individuals and their intimate lives were powerful. Demand for these insights grew exponentially outside the realm of the basic goods & services economy. Over time other stakeholders became interested in the power of these insights. Governments and stock markets readily paid for access to individuals in their most intimate moments.
The individual was powerless and had absolutely no rights to say how their data was used once it was created on the platform. This created a situation where a digital form of feudalism became the norm. Serfs (the lowest class of a feudal society) had no way of operating outside these platforms and had no rights to the value they generated. That value (information) was now the most coveted commodity on the planet.
While the economy and supply chains were going digital, innovation was now being funded by large corporations and financial institutions. The most desired commodity on the planet shifted from food and energy, to information and the users that create it.
The new market demanded for individuals to contribute globally, by generating information as value instead of goods and services. Ultimately, this created a social and economic rift between the resourceful and the general public who’s only method of sustenance was a traditional economy.
Job creation slowed as automation creeped into every part of the human supply chain. Investments shifted from traditional businesses to technology first businesses. Very few new jobs replaced the old ones. Platforms that were supposed to distribute global audiences, instead funneled them to a few particular platforms where content was created and shared.
Diversity slowly gave way to algorithms that suggested what the majority of people would consume, instead of letting the individual explore on their own. These algorithms were created using the data generated by the users they fed suggestions to. The end result was a feedback loop that resembled an exponential echo chamber.
The individuals who felt the most pain and suffering were the ones prevented from interacting in this new world. Instead their rhetoric devolved into extremist ideals that were nurtured by organizations that depended on the sensationalism to further their own agendas.
The rise of populism began prior to 2016, but was cemented with social shifts in governments around the world.
Out of fear, the individuals and corporations that controlled the platforms began to censor their users. This reaction resulted in ostracizing half or more of humanity against itself. Both sides refused to allow any healing to be accomplished on unselfish terms.
The ideals of democracy, free speech, and other civil liberties gave way to the desire to absolutely destroy anything that didn’t resemble one’s self, experienced and expressed within that exponential echo chamber.
Ideas like Privacy, which were once discussed as a common knowledge, have become all but synonymous with heresy. Fundamental truths about nature and how the world works are targets for identifying one’s enemy and providing all the excuse needed to continue to enforce global ostracization.
Without access to the platforms needed to continue to progress as a species, essential organs of the larger body are completely incapable of functioning.
With the platforms controlled by a central authority, it’s impossible to make the right decision for the whole.
The greatest gift of communication humanity has ever been given, has become the source of it’s most critical illness. A new balance must be discovered if it is to survive.
Even though the political and societal issues of the day are daunting and infect everything an individual does, the communities that began this innovative wildfire still exist today and continue to produce valuable, quality products that augment and improve upon the solutions in production.
Today, technologies exist that allow platforms humanity depend on to be decentralized. Democracies can be re-established in the digital landscape, with new borders that enable users to be heard louder and clearer than ever before.
We don’t need to submit indefinitely to the kings of the current platforms. We can build our own, or shift the architectures of the current to allow for individuals to own their data and take back their rights. Also, users can dictate how, where, and when their data is used on the platform.
A decentralized platform can serve the people better than any centralized one ever could. Resources to produce and provide the platform can easily be generated by the users simply using it.
These new decentralized platforms could not only become self-governing, member-owned organizations, but complete digital sovereignties that can serve the larger body of humanity by informing and acting on the behalf of its members.
To start, the first member-owned, decentralized platforms will provide its users with everything they need to communicate as normal. This will include the privacy, security, and stability of their corporate, centralized counterparts.
These platforms will evolve over time to provide the fundamental framework for others to create their own platforms and groups to connect and establish identities that align with the desires of the whole.
They will govern themselves, and exist as long as they are relevant. Empowered individuals will come and go as they please, generating value where they see fit, to satisfy their own demands and therefore the demands of others.
These platforms will become the modern form of human organization and governance, superseding states and corporations in the long run.