The idea for this article evolved during one of my busy essay-writing periods, imprisoned by piles of good books on Hull campus. Do we need another Internet? An Internet where only free programs, academia and social networking exist? Or let me put it the other way around: One Internet for commercial issues and one Internet for what it was developed for?
*I do not want to talk about infrastructural layer of a second Internet.
When I first discovered the Internet it was different to now. It was around 1993 and even though commercial offers existed already there was no flood of ads, scam and spam which exists today. Only a few games existed which could be played via Internet and companies which based their whole business on the Internet were rare. People knew how to use the address bar and 56k dial up connection was state of the art and pretty expensive. During this times, the most vital part of the Internet was already working: information and communication. Emails and messengers could be used by everyone and information was available on various websites. Forums created a place for communities and discussions. What has changed?
Basically, the Internet evolved not really much when it comes down to the content layer. Even though forums (or social networking sites how they are called today), websites and messenger differ in their functionality and their appearance (and the bandwidth you need to display them) from the applications in the 1990s they are basically the same. Everything is just more colorful and easier to use than before. Plus, IP telephony and video streaming which have enriched our private life. Consequently, the Internet became more multimedia but is basically the same as before.
When it comes down to the connection of commerce on the Internet quite a big evolution happened. It is hard to escape advertisements, tracking-cookies, fake and scam sites. If there is a program for free which does the same as a commercial product it takes sometimes quite a while to find the free solution because the commercial one is advertised everywhere. Twelve years ago, I was happy, having received an email. Nowadays I am not happy anymore. Not because I do not receive emails but because I receive loads of emails promising me a fast marriage or and increase of my malehood. Flooded with commercial scam. When I tried to find a companies or organizations website I just typed the name in with www and a possible ccTLD. Adding some characters most of the time I found the actual website. Today? Error404 does not occur because some people bought similar sounding URLs in order to sell their scam.
Do not get me wrong, I also order books at amazon or use a search engine to buy birthday presents from companies I have never heard of before. But it takes longer than it should take to find useful stuff, buried under piles of commercial entropy.
Due to the fact that the artificial nature of the Internet is unregulated content and kind of chaotic evolution I would not recommend a however designed split of the Internet. It is just a though which came to my mind. Something like a login screen which says:
chose a to enter fancy Internet (colorful with loads of pictures! You can buy everything! Digital billboards facilitate your way through it!)
chose b to enter ancient Internet (plain text, information, basic applications)
The latter one would only contain private websites and websites of non-commercial institutions and government related websites. Furthermore, universities and knowledge-management would take place here. Everything which is for free would find its place on this Internet. I would not call it Internet2 like the guys from Internet2.edu because it was the first, the pure Internet.
I would definitely go for b, even though that would mean that I have to go to the bookstores again and buy my books there…