Jul 242008

In the early 2000s, there had been a great vision for the Internet. People could seek out important medical information, learn new skills, and even find soulmates online. It was thought that this trend would continue until will were all continually connected to everything. However, in 2013, everyone left the Internet.

In 2011, a consortium of corporations and private interest groups won a decisive victory over Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who were “packet shaping” to limit the speeds of peer-to-peer data. The main argument that the ISPs job was simply to deliver data to the consumer from the source, not to act as a filter. While the Internet cheered and proclaimed the saving of free speech, trouble was brewing under the surface of this victory, and its name was the Electronic Ad Network.

Often derrided as being a front for spammers, the Electronic Ad Network used the same argument against email programs, claiming that email programs must simply deliver the mail to the client, as with regular mail, and allow the client to sort through it. An overzealous octogenerian judge who would later be revealed to be a technophone and who had, in fact, never been on the Internet, ruled in favour of the spammers and this openned the floodgates. Because of the very high signal-to-noise ratio in email, people tried to find very obscure email addresses such as a234Aw5D@gmail.com, however the automated spamming programs were relentless in finding all working addresses and spamming them. People tried to move into using the private messaging feature popular on forums, but the spammers claimed that any filtering there was also an infringement of the first ruling and were again successful with the same judge and asynchronous communication between people fell to nearly nill. This is how E-mail, a staple of the Internet since its inception as the ARPAnet fell.

Realizing there was an opportunity, a number of Internet ad providers for websites realized that the same argument could be used against ad-blockers, including the pop-up blocking function in the world’s most popular webbrowser, Mozilla Firefox, as well as its most popular extension, Adblock Plus. The main force behind this push to ban ad-blockers surprised everyone at the time: Google, the fourth largest company in the world. Their motto, “Do No Evil” was modified soon after to, “Do what’s best for us”. To this day, “Do Not Evil” is still used sarcastically in conversation.

As the number of ads increased on the Internet, surfers fled to the few safe places which did not use ads. However, the additional traffic caused a dilemma for the website owners: covering costs. Some decided to introduce ads, but since they could not control the amount of ads on their site (at least pop-up/under ads), their sites soon lost the majority of their traffic. Other sites decided to charge for membership, which, while helping them cover their costs, destroyed the open and free nature of the Internet.

That is how the Internet, a triumph of modern civilization, fell. As surfer experience on the Internet deterioated, and the costs of having a good experience increased, the number of people on the Internet dropped by nine-tenth’s almost overnight. Last year, in 2020, less than three million people claim to use the Internet on a regular basis, a major drop from the peak of 4 billion in 2014. The Internet, which had become a major politicaly, cultural and sociological force, is a hollow husk of what it used to be. The Internet, which many had believed could not be destroyed, was eventually taken down by ads and overzealous lawmaking.

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