The base protocol of the Internet is HTTP.
By itself, it is nothing special, it is the hidden lingua franca of all those bits and bytes flowing between you and your favorite app or website.
HTTP allows anyone or any business to become digital, and make themselves accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Software is Eating the World.
Ideas are abstract, no one can guess what a brand is supposed to stand for, without concrete verbalization. Today, if something is not in the form of digital media, does it exist? How do you know? How does an AI know? How does an influencer know?
So all businesses are digital media companies. All digital media companies need to be compatible with HTTP, so that everyone can access them.
When the World Wide Web was invented 30 years ago, it was meant to be a uniting force in the world, a call to a global village where all netizens were equal, and to enable a truly democratic and egalitarian world.
It is still a noble idea, but insufficient.
Over the past 15 years, the ideal map of the world as we would like to see it has not changed – we continue to desire an open and equal Internet. This is absolutely critical, as the Internet is the modern medium, the place where conversations are had, and commerce is done. This is a very important aspect of society and economics. Why is this so? Here are a selected few descriptions of “medium” from the Merriam-Webster:
: something in a middle position
: a substance regarded as the means of transmission of a force or effect
: a surrounding or enveloping substance
plural usually media
: a channel or system of communication, information, or entertainment
: a publication or broadcast that carries advertising
Something that is in such a position has the power to make or break an economy, whether of a small community, or of a country. The Internet as a medium is like nuclear power for electricity. It has incredible potency, but can be drastically misused.
Still, when it started, everything was benign.
Unfortunately, as history has repeatedly shown, the nobility of an idea has very little to do with things. As is the case with a system of incentives (or disincentives), so is the case with a world without built-in checks and balances. The system ends up becoming unbalanced, and invariably overloads.
Such is the situation this critical medium, the modern Internet, is now facing.
A virus of sorts has spread throughout the nodes of this modern Internet, constructed just as much by ideology and economics as much by technology. You will understand the nature of this virus more as we discuss the symptoms of the disease it is causing.
In the mean time, the Internet has gone from the ideal panacea of a happy world where everyone benefits to reinforcing the oldest pillars of aristocracy, that money makes money.
Any cure to this virus must also be virus-like, quite similar in how antibiotics work.
Our virus will also allow money to be made, for the creation of money is quite simple, if not easy. It is the other properties of markets that one has to redress in order to return the Internet to full power.
The limitations on the egalitarian use of the Internet today is not a property of the Internet, but only of the current structures of digital economics built on top of it. And given that Software is Eating the World, it is indeed simple, if not easy, to create a new world order, powered by new software.
The problem wasn’t that no one spoke HTTP, or that no one understood each other on the Internet. No, the medium was fine. It was just that no one knew where the other was! The need for maps is fairly fundamental.
It is the reason we didn’t see Facebook coming. Although perhaps it was mainly because Google came first, and dulled us a bit. We needed maps to find each other, and Google was originally meant to be a map of every one and every thing living on the Internet. As was Yahoo and several others. That was then.
Today, the ideal map is nowhere to be experienced. What we do experience is a set of corporate forts and moats, and an oligarchy where markets are only for those willing to pay to play.
The seekers that were meant to be guided by the map keepers have become the unwitting product that drives their economics, and the keepers have become toll gates that extract rent, nay vig, from everyone they can, while pretending to offer the guidance for free.
Meanwhile their platform AI decides who sees what, and they claim their real customers have no say in this part of their business, the part for which they’re getting paid. What do the Laws of Intelligence (artificial or otherwise) have to say about such a conflict of interest? Who wins?
The Map is Not the Territory
Any business is really a marketplace.
It is a place where sellers and buyers congregate to exchange information, and goods and services, as well as to finance each others’ ventures.
Today the logical map is seemingly illogical, and indeed we had to call it the ideal map, as though it were only possible in some unreasonable and fantastic place, where things don’t work like they do in the “real” world.
The real world today, of course, proves the opposite point. The Internet has calcified over the past 20 years, and particularly over the past decade, into a fragmented landscape of Big Tech. These are not different from the old corporate monopolies from the past decades, but this time assisted by the smartest engineers and AI programmers around he world. Shit.
And here’s the thing: many people in many parts of the world believe, for instance, that Facebook is the Internet, having only experienced certain basic apps on their fairly basic but still smart enough phones. They don’t even know of the underlying layers, much less the lingua franca of the humble HTTP that underlies it all. And some times, just to show how smart they actually are, they say they prefer WhatsApp, you know, because Facebook.
So this is the territory that we must navigate. The reality of the
The Internet is not an internet.
The Internet is Facebook and Google and Tencent and Baidu and Alibaba and Amazon and Yelp and Weedmaps and Door Dash everyone in between and around, each trying to dominate and be the biggest chest-thumping gorilla.
So we have to deal not with how things ought to be logically, but where they are. We deal not with a map at all, but with the more concrete reality of the territory itself.
The Territory is not the Map
The most successful businesses are ones in which one makes profits most times a trade happens. Very nice for already successful Goliaths.
So how does one start or run a business in the face of this type of non-internet? How does one play the game of Monopoly if the game rules are rigged in favor of the big banks? What use is a map if the highways are blocked by toll gates that charge more than most can afford?
How does one undo more than two decades of gluttony-and-greed-fueled platformization? How does one reverse the effects of centralization and aggregation? How does one counter the platforms?
How do you begin to solve the problem that Tim Berners Lee himself has not solved?
Why 2020 won’t be like 1984.
How does revolution happen?
At what point do we say, we don’t like the territory, and it ain’t the map we wanted?
At what point do we the people just take a giant right turn, and just start to take action?
At what point do we all just build a new world, so we can navigate brand new territories, and use brand new maps?
1984 was not desirable, no one likes Big Brother. We are human beings, and we rebel against authority and conformity. We are unique individuals, capable of creation and we can not imagine spending our lives in slavery to corporate or ideological overlords.
How to turn Facebook back into Facebook?
Facebook and Google and all the other aggregators – why are they in the position they are in today? Why are brands paying them so much money? Why are they charging brands so much?
Could there ever be a world where Facebook is again only a place to share family pics, and Twitter is again only a place to share brunch pics? A world where Google once again does no evil? A world where these platforms are not extracting from us simply because we met on their digital airwaves.
Imagine if we met at the ice-cream shop and ended up doing a deal together, and Mr. Ben & Jerry came by to ask for their 30% share for all the work we did! When the ice-cream shop is the ice-cream shop and does not claim their pound of flesh, why does Facebook? And why do we let them? What will it take to turn Facebook back into Facebook?
Information is Power
Facebook and all other platforms do not share data with each other. This is a simple and effective way to fragment the internet, and ensure each platform retains the power to do whatever they feel like with how their toll booths work.
A New Internet
To Tim Berners Lee and other Internet forefathers, we offer our thanks.
And we also offer the first new platform from AwakeVC.
We call it Shoptype.
Shoptype is connective tissue that reconnects the fragmented internet back into the internet.
Shoptype enables peer-to-peer referral tracking and settlement, across the entire Internet, for a price that is 100X lower than Facebook, and 10X lower than even the payment companies.
Shoptype makes it possible for any brand to power their selling with affiliates and influencers, tracking their exact performance in real time, across Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and all the other platforms that have splintered the Internet so far.
Shoptype fundamentally heals the digital divide between platforms, making it possible to actually see the connections between people directly, unmediated by the aggregators.
Shoptype awakens the Internet, and creates Digital Settlement Networks that can power any brand.
Shoptype transforms the Internet into a single Awake Market, a marketplace of marketplaces, powered by a network of networks. Shoptype makes it possible for anyone to create a new market by powering up a network of customers and evangelists, influencers and resellers, a network that functions like a seamless whole, contributing to the art of social selling, each node getting paid their dues in real time.
Shoptype simply disaggregates the aggregators, and creates a new Internet. We call this reaggregation.
Shoptype powers a new Internet built for Social Commerce, which has little to do with Facebook, but everything to do with people working together to create and share value. Shoptype enables the True Shared Economy.
Shoptype is the Settlement infrastructure for modern Internet commerce.
More at Shoptype.