Breaking up with the Internet


By David Byrne

About a month ago, I was asked to join some serious writers (Colin Toibin, Zadie Smith, etc.) at a reading in support of a small-ish book review called Bookforum. (It is bundled in with Artforum, though it is sort of a stand alone periodical as well). The theme we were given was “The Night We Called It A Day,” and I applied that to something I’d been thinking about—what will the world be like AFTER the Internet? Not what would the world be like, what WILL the world be like, as all things eventually pass. There is some sci-fi speculation in the piece as well.

The piece was picked up (in edited and fact-checked form) by Creative Time Reports, who shared it with the Guardian—who are running it as well. Enjoy.

What will life be like after the Internet?

Thanks to the mass surveillance undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the general creepiness of companies like Google and Facebook, I’ve found myself considering this question. I mean, nothing lasts forever, right?

There’s a broad tech backlash going on right now; I wonder just how deep the disillusionment runs. I get the feeling that there are folks out there who would relish putting the Internet behind us sooner rather than later. Imagine that: even the Internet could be a thing of the past one day. What would that be like? No Facebook. No Google. No government nerds looking through your webcam.

But could we become more secure without abandoning the Internet? What if there’s a third way? One that doesn’t involve either passive resignation to being exploited or a Luddite smash-the-looms fantasy. What if we began to develop and encourage the adoption of machines and a network that are actually secure—through which neither thieves, corporations, nor the NSA could track us—and what if these could be configured by us, to really do what we want them to do? To stop the spying, stealing and monitoring, but to allow other things to continue.

What would that look like?

Read the full column on here.

[via Jan Fex]

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