Six decades after the Advanced Research Projects Agency of America’s Defence Department (ARPA) began funding research on time-sharing between computers, which led eventually to the revolutionary technology we call the internet, the time has come to drop the definite article.
Just as the claim that politicians are merely following “the science” when it comes to the pandemic is an attempt to create the illusion of consensus, so talk of “the internet” now refers to a phantom.
Today there is no such thing as the internet. There are internets – plural – with different, indeed rival, systems erupting in many places, but two dominant kingdoms: an American (OK, Californian) internet, and a Chinese one. The latter, being the product of the Communist Party, has a plan to win the future. The former, being a collection of disparate and competing companies, does not.
After the splinternet
Over the past year, I have been thinking and writing about the fact that one of the great questions societies need to ask themselves today is: What kind of internet do you want?
As I mentioned in that earlier blog, the idea of a splinternet has emerged, and with it the claim that there are two other main