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By no means earlier than in human historical past has a single technological innovation so utterly disrupted the best way we talk, collaborate, and conduct enterprise than it has with the web. The invention of the World Vast Net in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee modified every little thing, connecting folks and organizations across the globe in ways in which have been as soon as inconceivable.
The net as we all know it at present is essentially based mostly on what has come to be generally known as “net 2.0” rules — a platform for collaboration and user-generated content material that has spawned among the hottest and influential websites on the web, similar to Fb, Google, and YouTube.
However whereas Web2 was a revolution in its personal proper, it’s now clear that it was solely step one towards a really related international neighborhood. On this article, we’ll discover the rise of Web2 and the components which have led to its discreditation.
The age of data
The early days of the web have been dominated by just a few massive companies, similar to AOL and Yahoo!, who managed the move of data and charged customers for entry to their platforms.
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This started to alter within the late Nineteen Nineties with the appearance of Web2, which ushered in a brand new period of user-generated content material and collaboration. Web2 websites like Wikipedia and YouTube allowed anybody with an web connection to share their ideas and concepts with the world.
This was a stark distinction to the earlier mannequin, the place solely a choose few may management what info was shared with the plenty. The rise of social media platforms like Fb and Twitter additional democratized the web, giving people a strong software for sharing their views with the world.
The facility of the person
The rise of Web2 marked a shift in energy from establishments to people. For the primary time, common folks had a platform for sharing their ideas and concepts with the world. This had a profound influence on society, because it gave rise to new actions and campaigns that might not have been potential with out the web.
The Arab Spring, for instance, was a sequence of pro-democracy protests that swept throughout the Center East and North Africa from 2010 to 2013. These protests wouldn’t have been potential with out the usage of social media to prepare and share info between protesters.
How Web2 went fallacious
Regardless of the constructive influence it has had on the world, Web2 has additionally led to some critical issues — issues related to this new skill to share info freely and with out consequence. The primary issues, after all, are the next:
Ethical and political arbitration
Whereas Web2 was a serious step ahead for the web, it’s now clear that it has reached its restrict. The centralized nature of at present’s platforms implies that they’re topic to the whims of their homeowners, who can select to censor or take away content material that they don’t agree with.
This was evident within the 2016 US presidential election when Fb was accused of intentionally suppressing conservative information tales.
The Fb-Cambridge Analytical knowledge scandal uncovered the issues with at present’s platforms, because it confirmed how consumer knowledge will be mishandled and used to govern public opinion. It additionally uncovered the centralized nature of those platforms, which provides the homeowners full management over what customers see and don’t see.
It’s clear that we’d like a new mannequin for the web — one that’s decentralized and based mostly on the precept of information possession. Beneath this mannequin, customers would have full management over their knowledge, and platform homeowners wouldn’t have the ability to promote or use it with out their consent.
This is able to create a extra degree taking part in discipline, as small startups would have the ability to compete with massive companies for customers’ consideration.
Combating within the shadows
One other issue that has led to the corruption of Web2 is the rise of the surveillance state. Within the wake of the 9/11 assaults, the U.S. authorities launched into a large program of home surveillance, gathering knowledge on hundreds of thousands of harmless People.
This program was uncovered by Edward Snowden in 2013, and it confirmed how the federal government was utilizing these platforms to spy on its residents. Since then, we’ve got seen a gradual erosion of privateness rights, as the federal government has continued to gather knowledge on our on-line actions.
On the opposite facet of the equation is reckless anonymity, which has given rise to a brand new breed of web troll. These trolls conceal behind nameless accounts and use the web to harass and threaten folks.
This drawback was highlighted in 2014 and 2015 when girls within the online game trade, together with Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn and others have been harassed and threatened by an nameless group of trolls utilizing the hashtag “#Gamergate.”
Elections in international locations just like the Philippines have suffered due to wide-scale disinformation campaigns that use social media to unfold false info to distort the picture of sure political candidates, whether or not in exaltation or shame.
What to anticipate
This op-ed is supposed to be an introduction to the components which have led to the downfall of the second iteration of the web. You’ll be able to clearly see that these issues are centered across the tenets of centralization, the commoditization of information, reckless anonymity and unmitigated human greed.
Within the subsequent few articles of this sequence, we’ll start to discover how a brand new model of the web — one which is decentralized and based mostly on the rules of information possession — can deal with these issues.
Partially 2, we’ll discover the idea of free speech, attitudes towards censoriousness and ethical arbitration by huge tech.
To conclude, Web2 has allowed customers the facility to create, to have the ability to take part within the ebbs and flows of the worldwide dialog, nevertheless it has gone too far in giving these with the most important megaphones essentially the most energy. Decentralization is essential to night out the taking part in discipline and giving everybody a voice.
Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode.
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