The Internet: Dead and gone
Sometime in the near future...
The Internet used to be a nice, big, networked thing; nothing like the vent-less abyss that it is today. It used to be a place where people would have the closest realisation of freedom and would have opportunities to speak their mind out. People would gather, share and spread the joy of owning culture and knowledge - that which religions preached for millenia, the Internet had made it possible within its short stint. The world was knit closer; there was free access to knowledge; learning was no longer a costly affair restricted to the well off; Science was growing, so was rational thought; Superstitions were getting abolished and the world was tending towards the path of enlightenment facilitated by the unbound access to knowledge borne in the Internet. There were also substantial attempts towards abolishing the regressive concepts of “Intellectual Property” and in the process unleashing all the cumulative knowledge of humanity back to the source – Community. Computers were getting smaller and cheaper, software was freer and costing almost nothing, and information was not all that a commodity when the Internet was around, unlike today. The misrepresentation of the now called “Stallmanism”, or the “Moglenist” ideals, and other pro-people ideals were the backbone of the grand infrastructure that the Internet was. When the second wave of the McCarthyian propaganda began sometime in the second decade of 21st Century, the perception of these ideals to be something villainous, as we see it today has been perpetrated. The concept of community created free and open source software has been rendered with connotations which ironically imply them to be perilous to the world.
This transition transpired sometime in the early decades of the 21st Century. It was then believed that like the Mayans had supposedly predicted that the world was going to end by the year 2012 because of an apocalypse. While the world was speculating natural calamities to come and wipe out the world, and Hollywood was busy bringing life to that vision by making a whole bunch of apocalyptic movies, subtly, there were conspiracies going on – plots to annihilate humanity not by bombing or wars, although even that has continued even today, some laws, bills and policies were framed to once and for all undo all that the society had evolved into – this time by attacking the nervous system of the society in the early 21st century : The Internet.
The United States of America, today which still is crumbling under its own weight, having played an important role in creating the Internet in late 20th Century balanced it out by expending extra efforts in the early 21st Century to eradicate all the richness, vibrancy and purposes the Internet had acquired. The USA then used to have a Democratic Government run by representatives of people and were not in great deals dependent on the corporate monopolies. Today the reality is different, the USA is being run officially by the consortium of these monopolies - Corporatocracy, some call it, using all the money People's body (ex-Government) raises and offers to them. To attain this level of hegemony, the Corporatocracy had to pave its path using one of their most effective tools – lobbying. Although like a weapon discarded after the act, today lobbying is not all that prevalent. It used to be a shrewd way of getting one's anti-people, pro-profit agenda by enticing some of the representatives of the people in the Government to legalise extortion. A cumulative impact of this lobbying has today put the Government on the Corporatocracy's pay roll, and serves only as the treasurer raising people's tax money.
The first symptoms of the process of undoing the Internet was when 'sharing' was branded as 'piracy'. The act of sharing when was misnomered as piracy not many showed their dissent instead many groups endorsed the tag with pride. After elaborate smear campaigns by projecting sharing to be an act of evil and by making it illegal the first damage had been done. Psychologically the general population would for obvious reasons perceive sharing online as an act of 'piracy', or looting. After the psychological win, the final nails to coffin down the Internet were crafted in the form of a bunch of policies ACTA (Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).
The details of what each of these three and the plethora of others that followed are do not matter now. Although to give an essence these policies curbed the joy of sharing on the Internet, reduced the benefit of learning and wiped out the concept of freedom of expression in the Internet, in effect sending people back into darkness.
Now the mantra that ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, and other campaigns like 'Free Knowledge is not knowledge', 'Creative Commons kills Creativity', 'Eternal Copyrights', 'Patents lasting for centuries' have been projected to have saved the world from the clutches of impoverishment into prosperity. This notion is a myth even today, than it was then.
The words 'community' and 'collective' had received some connotations after the World War II, attributing as if some villainy to them. Today, the contemporary terms like 'collaborative contribution', 'open source' , 'free software', 'public domain' have also been drawn into such lexicon which imply conspiracy against the Corporatocracy. Anything that hampers the revenue flow or does not generate profits to the Corporatocracy is made illegal. For instance the recent taboo on contributing articles to the last surviving asset of the Internet Wikipedia. Contributing articles there is deemed as an act of treason.
Retrospecting some might blame the generations of people who compromised the Internet to bring it down to its current state of futility. While these regressive laws were being formulated not everyone was concerned. People other than in the US, for example in India had a delusion that the laws were for the USA and would not impact the Indian conditions. Little did they know that within an year those regressive laws were made more stringent with the Indian flavour and pushed down the throats. A domino effect of collapsing societies in the world, without the foundation of freedom of expression except for in some islands of freedom has what has led us to the current bleak reality.
When assessing the stand and opposition that was displayed by the older generations, their token means of small retaliations like website blackouts, shutting down servers, changing display pictures and other mnemonics were not adequate to stop the bulldozing of the Government in nexus with the Corporatocracy.
To have made their voice heard, an important idea was missed. An idea converging as:
Users of the Internet, unite!
If this had resounded then, the Internet would still flourish in a grand and fulfilling manner.
George Orwell's 1984 envisages a negative utopia, and while reading it one would wonder how a world he envisages could be possible; Today we can very well see the answers in the world where the Internet is dead and gone...