The year is 2018. I have just left the home of my friends An and Yovko. While driving to Sofia, I am listening to "Digital Dystopia: taking back control" — a podcast by The Guardian, featuring Aral Balkan, Gus Hosein and Rachel Botsman. The reason is our long talk about the state of the Internet and the changes in the way we communicate.
Social networks easily let us take the stage in front of a large audience. They quickly reward us for every action. In return, they collect troves of sensitive data concerning our lives. And for the most part, we seem to be perfectly fine with it. In fact, this is how most of the Internet works. We don't mind seeing personalized ads. On the contrary — we are told we prefer them over random, irrelevant ads. Yet, we get amused each time LinkedIn shows us a recent post of an old contact we just met in the streets, even though we have not talked in years or engaged in any LinkedIn-related way.
The year is 2020. Aral has been pushing the Site.js project further with the goal to let everybody in the known world own their place on the Internet and have full control over what they share and whom they communicate with.
I have just installed the Manyverse app on my mobile phone to test the "off the grid", decentralised social network with friends. A few years ago, I read an article by Andre Staltz called "The Web began dying in 2014, here's how". Then, I enjoyed his thoughts about saving the Web from the Internet. Today, I am more than happy to see it working — over our home network, syncing content between devices and storing it in a local database. No algorithms, no collection of sensitive data and control over "what content gets through the noise".
And Mastodon has become an even more interesting place, albeit a bit crowded with technology nerds.
We all decide the fate of the Internet.