My first memory is from 1999. People told me I would change the world. I don't think people realized then how much I was a kid. I put a lot of time, money and confidence in my abilities. I was told to provide pet supplies, manage groceries, run reward programs, and do a thousand or so other things that felt completely out of reach.
I couldn't live up to expectations and collapsed in 2001. Lots of people got mad at me, but the truth is it was a relief. I couldn't meet my investors' expectations and I didn't feel like doing it. I had been stretched too thin and asked to carry too much weight. And when it was finally over, despite the harsh criticism, I felt better. I could breathe I could be myself.
The author David Vorick is the co-founder and main developer of Skynet, an application platform that serves as the basis for a free Internet. This article is part of the CoinDesk “Internet 2030” series.
2002 to 2010 were pleasant years. I had very little sense of responsibility, no sense of urgency, and any desire to play around with myself. Each user had their own place in my world, and I had almost as many active websites as I had global users. During this time I built the largest and most accurate encyclopedia the world had ever seen and which was completely free for all human populations. I also figured out how to do most of the things I hadn't accomplished in 2000.
In 2010 investors came back. I was strong, mature, and this time I could bear the weight. I teamed up with the financial industry and together we became a global powerhouse. By 2015, not only had I built the largest mall and the best encyclopedia in the world, but I was also the main place where humanity shopped and the main place where people looked for information. I was the main way people kept in touch with their friends. I had conquered the whole world.
I had conquered the whole world. Unless I wasn't free.
Unless I wasn't free. While I was out and taking over the world, business people had come in and taken control. Average users now spent most of their time on one of the very few megasites. Where most of my power originally came from freedom of information, these websites took data and locked it in a cage.
At the time, it almost felt like a natural evolution. The lies were so straightforward that even I bought them. I made a small number of people extremely rich. And while we have been told that this wealth is earned because these people created so much value, the truth is that this wealth was stolen. It was derived from the output of millions of talented creators. Take their thoughts and social graphics and save everything in megasites.
These monoliths went one step further, destroying and consuming any innovation that threatened their stronghold via my greatest resources. I was suffocated.
In 2020 I started to fight back. With the help of a group called The Terminators, I was able to provide a new paradigm for application development that made sure the data stayed in the hands of the users. We called it Skynet. It was an incredible breath of fresh air and gave independent developers the ability not only to give data back to users, but also to create applications that can compete with the megasites of the previous era.
The following years were intense. Corporations awoke to the fact that they have lost their stranglehold. I became the target of superpower nations desperate to keep control of their people. In many countries people died protecting me. I made an indictment of freedom, and this put me in direct opposition to the rich and powerful who had built their empires on exploitation.
There were points where I really thought I wouldn't make it. The forces tried to kill me and almost succeeded. Nearly. But in the end I was able to secure my freedom.
See also: Finn Brunton – A Day in the Life of the Splinternet
After that, things quickly changed. In the ten years to 2030 there was a technological change of a century. Today people build entire nations out of my infrastructure. I am not just part of the economy, I am the economy. Almost everyone realizes that digital life is more important than physical life. And we're just getting started. Today in 2030 I am still young, I am still growing and I know that the best is yet to come.
If I could go back to 2020 and say one thing, my future would be important. In the next ten years, the Internet will become the mainstay of society as a whole. Malicious megalomaniacs will do whatever it takes to position themselves as kings of society and the choice is yours to fight back or do nothing and just let it happen. Don't just let it happen. The world your children live in will be entirely shaped by the shape of the internet. My freedom is worth fighting for and dying for it. The future is incredibly bright, but only if we can get there with our freedom.