Freedom of Choice

A movement starts with a word. A network, with two computers and some common medium. The “Internet” has been usurped by mega-giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others.

What are “we” left to do? Form alternatives. We’ve been doing this for centuries, no doubt. Don’t wanna hang out at the hut where the cool kids hang out? Find your own “cooler” place, and convince your friends to hangout. Been done before. Now it’s just digital.

My generation grew up with NO Internet, then in our 20s, it was slow modems. Speeds grew, modems and cpus, and disks, and bus’s. Nobody could predict what would speed up next. Then Bill Clinton and Al Gore freed the internet to be a commercial product, an “information service” that anyone who can afford the bill can obtain. What really drove the greater population’s adoption of the Internet, was the World Wide Web.

In the beginning of the web, there were open standards, so any site could host any data, and any browser could view it as intended. Most things worked as intended, and for the rest, workarounds were found, and sometimes paid for.

The “the web” somehow quickly turned into “the facebook”, et al “the 800 lb gorilla in the room”. Blogs died, forums died, everything replaced by people’s facebook timeline or group chats. Some of our friends were too afraid of facebook to even try it. Turns out they were the smart ones. The rest of us hurried along peacefully, feeding the Zuck with all our personal thoughts, locations, how we think, who we purchase things from, who our friends are.

Today’s kids have moved on from Facebook. Some got stuck in another popular property of Zuck’s, Instagram. It’s much the same, different skin, different approach in attracking clients and moderating content.

Social media has jumped the shark. Twitter is just another method for big media companies to advertise their content to the masses. So, people move on.

Yes, People move on. From ancient, trackable, hackable, networks like IRC, skype, Slack.

One destination, one which i am currently testing, is Matrix, an open source solution to the text/voice/video chat problem. Anyone can run their own server and clients which only speak to their own server. Or they can add matrix federation, after which, they can create private chats with members of any other online Matrix server. They can join public chatrooms advertised on matrix.org, or be invited to end-to-end encrypted private chat rooms, hosted anywhere you like. This is how rebels do it. This is how people who care about privacy deal with it.

I can just see it now. In about 2 years, it’ll become common knowledge that another “evil darknet” appeared, called Matrix. They’ll deamonize it just like they did bittorrent. Automatically assume Matrix is used for illegal purposes, because it can’t easily be spied upon, by the powers that be. In China, these kinds of private networks are forbidden, because Chinese citizens do not have true freedom of speech. I’m not talking about yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre kind of freedom, I’m talking about the ability to publiccally discuss any topics the men in power consider harmful or radical.

China has already segmented their own network from the greater Internet. The popular news would have us think Russia is about to the same thing, isolate all outbound connections at a few (hundreds? thousands?) of access points across the country. Just like we have to do with China.

If Trump wins 2020, as some are quick to predict, I worry the US will be next. It’ll be just like a bad Simpsons gag line “Save The Children!” or “Save us from hackers” or some other stupid line, and we’ll get stuck behind the great firewall of ‘Murica!” I worry about this world’s future, but I have enough physical ailments, I can be assured of not having to worry about it too much longer, I think.