It’s time to redo the internet. (More)

When the internet first made a huge splash in the early nineties, it was a wild west of universities and a few businesses. Soon AOL joined, and the Web took off. Since that time, the internet and the Web have grown to vast proportions, and it serves our needs for news, shopping, banking and entertainment.

The model of the internet, that of a collection of computing nodes connected by slow networks has little changed since then. The network speeds have improved, yes, certainly we are better off from the days of 2400 Baud dialup connections. But the new connections are still slow at times, plagued by disruption, and barely adequate at times for how we wish to use it. And the content is inane, frequently false, and driven by the prattle of the ignoranti.

This model is no longer correct, and the continued acceptance of this model denies a fundamental truth: the internet has become something quite different from its original conception. I believe that the internet has become, in reality, a massively integrated supercomputer, comprised of personal devices, Internet Service Providers, and content providers.

This supercomputer, a planet scale collective mind for all humanity, is crippled by the old vision of what it once was.

It is crippled by a design conceived as a university experiment and which could never have foreseen its eventual manifestation. It is crippled by personal computing devices that waste computing power running software no one needs. It is crippled by networks that are inexcusably unreliable, and even in the age of fibre optic is absurdly slow. It is crippled by the clumsiness of HTML, the sluggishness of Java, competing standards written by corporations that refused to cooperate, open software written by barely competent volunteers, encryption software that doesn’t work, and viruses, worms, and spyware.

In short, the internet is crapware.

Had anyone proposed a supercomputer that would, at the outset operate like this, it would have been refused by any government or corporation which might have pockets deep enough to buy it. Now that we have this supercomputer, I think it’s time we reexamine how we design devices to interact with it, how our networks are constructed, how services are provided, and even the underlying technologies that enable it.

Until we do so, this lumbering behemoth will continue to lurch forward like a zombie that refuses to die, and we are helpless to look away while it comes to eat our data.

Please, can we start over?
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