Big things die slow. The internet has been dying now for about 10-15 years. In reality, it started dying on April 13, 2000. The day Metallica sued Napster. This isn’t a defense of file sharing on the internet, it’s just a statement of fact. That was the day shit started getting real online, when the digital and virtual world of the internet had real repercussions from the real world.
Hacking had kind of always been illegal, but that was a reaction in the real world to people crossing the boundary from the internet, or from cyberspace, to affect the real world, so it’s understandable.
But the internet is dying for other reasons.
Passwords are shitty security
Passwords were always a bad idea. But they were convenient, they made it easier to key access to systems and identify users. But they suck. They can be hacked, rather easily. There’s no real solution online. Most websites, like Amazon, or Digital Ocean elect to use two-factor authentication. That’s where you sign in, then twiddle your thumbs while you wait for an email or an SMS with a code, then you enter the code and you’re in.
What happens when you lose the password to your email account? Phone. Or lose your phone entirely?
The Public Forum that never was
The internet, as conceived by the angel headed hipsters writing the underlying tech, was a kind of digital Areopagitica. A public forum where the free exchange of information and ideas could exist. And if you’re really, really tech savvy, and you’re ideas aren’t “beyond the pale” it might could be that for you. But imagine if the Areopagitica was Mount Everest. It’s just too difficult to reach in order to be useful, in order to be public.
It doesn’t matter that you can say anything you want, so long as you are at the top of mount everest, because you can’t fucking get to the top of mount everest so it might as well not exist for 99.99% of the population.
The internet is like this. Most people couldn’t even use the internet if it weren’t for browsers, hosting companies, and ISPs. But those companies are private, that makes the internet private. Not in the sense of security, or anonymity, but in the sense of property. It means, in the end, what the “owners” of the pieces of the internet says goes. It means you don’t own anything you produce on or through the network.
If you write a book on Google Docs, it’s not really your book. It is in a copyright sense, but not in a real ownership sense. If Google decides it doesn’t like you, or your book’s content, it can simply close your account. Is has no obligation to return your files. Or your emails. Who owns them? If you use Gmail, google does. Google can save them, read them, or delete them as it pleases.
Our naive understanding of the internet is that it is a public forum, but it is not. It is private property, anything you say, do or make there, is constantly at risk. It’s a small risk, and so long as you toe the line in society, it is a risk you’ll probably never run afoul of.
The creator of Freenet understood this. Unfortunately, the only people he could get to use his network were the rejects of the wider internet, drug dealers, wannabe contract killers, and kiddie porn producers. Tor is much the same, except everyone on Tor is an epic moron. Question: How do you hide from the government? Answer: Use an abandonware network created by the Office of Naval Intelligence? Take that NSA.
Encryption is effectively illegal
Crypto nerds always do my head in. They’re so stupid it hurts sometimes. Every major country in the world has incredibly broad laws about encryption. If the police show up at your door, you are legally obliged to turn over all passwords and encryption keys if asked. Refusal to do so is an automatic jail sentence. You can effectively be imprisoned for life, because you won’t be released until the police are satisfied you’ve given them everything. Even in the USA. Especially there.
The thing no one seems to want to admit is that the point of encryption has always been hiding shit from the government, not hackers. The truth is, everyone is a little bit criminal. Everyone cheats, lies, and occasionally steals: something. Ever downloaded a pdf of an ebook from a shady Russian website? Ever watched a movie online on one of those websites in Barbados? Yeah, fuckin’ thieves, the lot of you.
Piracy: No hardware was raped, no databases pillaged
The basic problem is there is a fundamental difference between the pays réel and the pays légal. In the real world, everyone knows that “piracy” (god, that word used to mean something) is a victimless crime. At least, that’s how most internet denizens act. But legally, it’s not. So don’t do it. But you still do, everyone does. And the truth is, software/music/video piracy is NOT a victimless crime. At least not when everyone is doing it. The price of books has collapsed, along with the quality, in part due to vanity publishing, but in another part due to the ubiquity of Chinese and Russian ebook download sites.
The quality of movies, and the costs associated with consuming them, have been thrown into chaos. That’s partly due to a dying industry, and technological disruption. The rise of youtube and The Left(TM) have had significant negative impacts on visual media as well. But part of this chaos and degradation is the ubiquity of digital illegal distribution. The thing is, movies should be making a lot more money than they make. It might seem like they’re doing good, breaking box office records, but today it’s a global market. A decent movie could make a billion opening week, easily.
We’re all the collective victims of a victimless crime (and admittedly many other factors). But we’re also the perpetrators.
Full Stack Development
That’s because I have tons of tabs open, taking up gigabytes of memory. (The idea, the very fucking idea, of websites taking up GIGABYTES of memory is…so…fucked). We’re getting less and less efficient, and more and more bogged down by kitchen sink frameworks, and shit code they encourage.
This is all made worse by the domination of OOP and MVC within server side frameworks.
Mobile First, Retardation Second
Added onto the shitshow that is full stack development is the unadulterated bullshit of mobile devices. As if the already crudded up and mostly useless solipsistic internet needed to also be deliverable by a pocket sized mirror into the mediocrity of your own soul. I can’t think of anything stupider than reading your twitter feed on the most advanced piece of computer hardware ever designed for mass consumption.
I hate the internet, and I hope it dies
It really already has. What we have today is not the internet of my youth. Today there is no internet. There’s just Google, and Amazon, and Wikipedia. It’s all just ideologically sanctioned LCARS. It’s useful, and I use it. But we should stop calling it the internet, and start calling it the Cortex, or something like that.
There’s no such thing as web development, or web programming, it’s all fullstack this, and cloud that. We all just sit around and spool up kubernetes to serve microservices that sell people shit, or force feed them newspeak and goodfacts.
I feel like Tom Wilson.