Faced with the desire for absolute transparency within certain large digital companies, starting with the Meta universe, a form of self-retraction is developing in the network. In fact, it is becoming mandatory to remain anonymous, to circulate without being identifiable, without leaving traces that could provide information about one’s own identity and actions. Undoubtedly, the age of cookies has gone too far, which is increasingly pushing the average Internet user to want to browse, communicate and share in a completely invisible way.
The disenchantment of the InternetRomain Badouard
Many experts have studied the evolution of the network and the behaviors generated by this space. Thus, Romain Badouard published The disenchantment of the Internet in 2017. Through this book (180 pages, € 17), the academic researcher in information science shows the investment that has taken place in a few years. We have gone from a universe perceived as one that can embody a new form of democracy. Everyone then cultivated a new taste for public expression, made possible for all. Therefore, downloading a VPN to gain invisibility and security was not at all on the agenda in the early 2000’s.
Free expression, exchange, sharing, these are all values that the Internet seemed to help renew. And then, all of a sudden, we realized that, on the contrary, the Internet could be dangerous, precisely for democratic thinking. It opened the door to virtual crowd movements, from gossip and harassment to new forms of propaganda and the facilitation of widespread surveillance. Like any tool, everything always depends on the users and the uses that are put in place, the rules that are imposed.
The fallen utopia: a counter-history of the Internet (15th-21st centuries), Félix Tréguer
We are moving further and further away from the utopian beginnings of the Internet. Researcher associated with the CNRS Internet and Society Center, Félix Tréguer announces the color based on the title of his essay published in 2019 (350 pages, € 22). The web is getting scarier and scarier. Fear of wasting time there, of our children wasting their time, but also of their naivete, with the discovery of porn and violence. To leave a trail. Fear of scams. The list would be almost endless.
But Félix Tréguer proposes to go back a little in history, analyzing the shocks induced by each revolution in the media used, thus returning to the birth of the printing press. States then implemented important policies of oversight and censorship to maintain control of what embodied a new power made available to a large number of people. Undoubtedly, the web is today in a struggle between actors seeking total freedom and states that want to fully control the uses of this technology to control the population.
Everything remains to be invented and the story is not written. When we look at the current development of VPNs to get out of the field of vision of existing control systems in countries with dictatorial tendencies, we tell ourselves that nothing is over, that freedom still has its place.
Wikipedia – Backstage from the world’s largest encyclopediaRemi Mathis
Between anonymity, anarchy, uncontrollable crowds and absolute transparency, incessant tracking and restriction of uses, there is a free and peaceful world to build. Access to knowledge for all is one of the great challenges of the Internet of the future. This richness must be preserved while reliable, fast and efficient information validation systems are developed.
Wikipedia certainly embodies a path to follow, a success we can only admire. On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of this international encyclopedia, Rémi Mathis, chairman of the scientific board of Wikimedia France from 2014 to 2017, had published Wikipedia – Backstage from the world’s largest encyclopedia (224 pages, € 14.95). If the criticism of this collective work continues to be numerous, it is clear that it is also an exceptional success for the community enterprise.
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