We tend to overestimate the impact of technologies in the short term and underestimate them in the long term. The Internet visionaries overestimated how rapidly the Internet would change the status quo. Instead the status quo came and colonized the Internet. The night is young though, and we have generations coming up right now that don’t know what one-way broadcast media even is. The printing press took a long time to totally transform society, but transform it it did. Society changes much more slowly than technology.
I personally think we are living through the “Empire Strikes Back” period—a period where the conventional powers (political think tanks, advertisers, ideological and state propagandists, etc.) have learned to attack the Internet using its own systems (social media, forums, memes, etc.) and the Internet hasn’t yet learned how to defend itself. This is probably peaking now with “peak social” and the explosion of hip and effective social media based state and political propaganda. I don’t know what “Return of the Jedi” will look like, but I think it’s likely coming. Some of the problems that need to be solved are technical but many are just a matter of people learning how to mentally filter BS in the new Internet era.
Somewhat agree. I’ve been getting back into blogs and personal websites—some of this is categorized under ‘indieweb’. There is a lot of good work being done out there, great conversations going on, strange and wonderful new hobbyists.
But I don’t know if the Web—or the digital rights movement or Occupy or meme culture or whatever your personal fancy is—will ever be retaken. There’s space for an underground now—which is good enough for me. Perhaps better than trying to fit all of mainstream society in. And maybe social networks can stay—as a kind of fly paper.