I have been in the tech scene since about 2017. Since then I have had the pleasure of learning programming, using social media, dabbling in crypto and AI, and all the other aspects of the internet that we all love and cherish. But what really is the internet? And why has it consumed our lives on such a massive level?
It is easy to get consumed by the internet and forget what it really is. When I asked myself what is the internet on the first principles level, it came down to 'information'.
There is a reason why, afterall, it is called Information Technology (IT). At the end of the day, the internet is simply a way for information to travel from one person to another.
Well it means that the underlying purpose of the this thing we call the internet is to get and send (exchange) information.
For example, you want to buy a toothbrush from a company. What are you options to communicate with them?
Walk to their store for an in-person purchase.
Call them on the telephone to place your order.
Send them a letter with your order.
So what is 'Going Online'? Well, it's kind of like a really advanced newspaper. Like the one from Harry Potter with the moving images. Or as we call them on the internet, GIFs. Except it doesn't just contain GIFs, but all kinds of content. AND we can interact with the content.
The internet is simply a way for us to communicate information in a convenient way to make our physical lives easier and better for each other.
Internet 1.0 was exactly that. It was a newspaper ONLINE. Companies were using the internet to replicate what they were already doing in the physical world onto the internet and allow for their information to be more easily distributed. Because the main purpose of the newspaper was to convey information. There is no other purpose for the newspaper. No, not even to start your backyard fire.
I am not sure about the exact version definitions but the next version of the internet was something like Amazon. Where the next phase of the information entered the internet. This was the purchase phase. None of this factually correct, by the way.
The purchase phase contained much more complicated information that needed to be conveyed from our person to another and involved additional technological advancements. Things like security, complicated databases, and payment processing entered the scene.
Companies started to hire more talent to be able to facilitate all of this information. And the convenience of buying books and other things online started to draw in more people.
Let's take the example of buying a book online. This simple process involved multiple exchanges of information from multiple people.
Amazon creates a website that is able to host information and process payments.
Businesses list the information about their books on Amazon.
Person logs onto Amazon and inputs their information and sends their order details to Amazon.
Amazon then digests that information and sends the relevant details to the book merchant.
All of this information exchange would be nearly impossible to facilitate within seconds without the use of the internet.
That. That is the value proposition of the internet.
Social. More and more information started to migrate online. People started spending more time online and consuming more information. There goes that word again, 'information'.
Now the structure of the information is incredibly complex. Hundreds of layers of technology is lubricating the exchange of information. Dozens of new industries are born and billions of lives are impacted by this new way of sending and receiving information.
As we look towards the future of the internet, we can expect a continued evolution of the ways in which we exchange information. The next phase, often referred to as Internet 4.0, will likely be characterized by the integration of advanced technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain, among others. These technologies have the potential to further revolutionize the ways we interact, both with each other and with the devices that surround us.
Furthermore, AI will become increasingly integrated into the fabric of the internet, offering personalized experiences and streamlining our interactions with technology. While virtual assistants will become more advanced and capable of handling a wider range of tasks.
The way we use the internet might change into something we don't recognize at all. Will we need search engines if AI can answer any question we have? Or teach us anything that we might want to learn?
How will social media change if the majority of the content is AI generated?
Will the transfer of data be so seamless that it will require less of our input?
Will all of this allow us to spend more time of our days doing what we enjoy most? Or will we all be even more caught up in the pursuit of money, productivity, and happiness?