The hypothetical “what-if” of one different person creating one event is really hard to see the rippled changes in the future. But let’s have some fun. If you’ve watched Hot Tub Time Machine, it illustrates that one person can change the future if they knew how to change the future for their benefit. This story is a bit lengthy but I really hope you enjoy the wild journey and ending, I had fun making it up.
Would Zuckerberg have seen the birth of the World Wide Web as something that he would have had the drive to build? In hindsight of course but without the knowledge of the future, I just don’t see Mark being “that guy”. The concept of creating hypertext data and using TCP with the help of DNS for addressing to transmit to rendering tools for viewing systems is not something I’d see him coming up with. But let’s suppose he did and let’s suppose he worked for CERN.
Zuckerberg would most likely have designed a core centralized system that all data from TCP would have gone through with nodes (think Twitter with 3rd Party Clients being Nodes). Those nodes would expand all around the world but there would always have been a core that acts as an intermediary for requests to go through. That core would have acted as a HTTP proxy to allow two nodes (the server and the browser/server) to transport the hypertext data. This core would have had the ability to collect, categorize and store transactions and the hypertext data stream. He even created a way to encrypt the stream to ease the concern called Domain Front-end Security (DFS) which acted as a Public-Private key type system. Essentially it had full control of the World Wide Web.
He decides that he needs to monetize HTML/HTTP somehow. By this time, Search Engines have become major start pages. He comes up with a plan and decides to create his own search engine and firewall these other Search Engine nodes claiming that they are scrapping information and datamining is no longer allowed unless they pay WWW Credits.
Sites which connect people Socially begin to form and they begin to really become the new Internet. Zuckerberg’s Search Engine is becoming less relevant but he still collecting incredible amounts of metadata within the hypertext between the various nodes, he starts to build an Identity Store which also creates relationships. Zuckerberg goes further to add the need for WWW Credits to any nodes that are making money through the HTML/HTTP services. The centralized design allows him without much alternative to collect 30% of money following on the Net.
Zuckerberg is challenged do something new to transform his amazing revenue-generating creation. So he decides to embed new information within the hypertext being transmitted without giving much notice. In the newly embedded information contains information about the author and the viewer’s past and the two nodes that exposes lots of good information to add value to all parties because it is assumed that it is what everybody wants. People begin to notice a very different World Wide Web, their interests and information throughout all of the years suddenly become merged between all sites and others can see it. People freak out but have little control, the data has already been stored and seen. Some decide to live an off-line life.
Some college students come up with their own idea to replace Mark Zuckerberg’s World Wide Web. The word gets out about this concept and many people love the concept. They donate a lot more money than the students are looking for. The concept turns into reality and becomes the World Direct Nodes (WDN) which skips the centralized core proxy and allows Nodes to connect directly. A new smaller Web is born, some people use it but Zuckerberg’s momentum of size and tight control of existing nodes makes it very difficult for this WDN to go mainstream. It’s simply too late because we all allowed this form of the future to happen.
Over time the concerns quiet down but human behavior has changed. People become much more Open in some respects but become much more reserved with items only a handful of people should know about. People resort to other somewhat more private protocols such as SMTP and WDN to communicate to close friends. Now when someone watches a movie on Netflix, Pandora and iTunes will know that and will suggest the Soundtrack while the “actor” (bot) will pretend to want to be your friend. When someone goes to a restaurant, their cell phone notifies a waiter that they are their and that they have complained about the service in the past and Blippy tells him that they usually spend a very low amount at this location. The waiter doesn’t bother to give them great service and spits in their food. That customer doesn’t really know transpired except they had gotten bad service again. People are relatively happy with how information is shared.
More profits were needed to be made for the Shareholders of Zuck’s Internet. The Internet is “free” now with a Global Wireless WiFi system. Mark Zuckerberg decides that people have adapted to an “open web” so well that he decides to expand the idea. He decides to release data that was secured in transactions using his DFS encrypted system (you see, his private key system that everyone is using has a backdoor in the Centralized Proxy Farm and yes DFS stands for something else he said years back in an IM). Now any individual item you buy, any bank transaction, any move you make with your cell phone, your Net Worth, anything “securely transmitted” is exposed to public consumption. Through Augmented Reality, we know everything about everyone by just pointing our phones at each other. A reputation management system determines if a company should hire people, no interviews required. Your date on Friday already knows all the names and activities you have had with past relationships. Cameras are everywhere and anyone can access the public ones and for a fee, the private ones. The government and companies will be watching us, but we’ll also be watching them. Nobody can hide their true selves. Our Digital Life and every action make up our historic DNA. Is this good or bad, you decide…
Back to Real Life:
We’re almost already here and if it wasn’t Facebook’s recent changes, someone else would have taken the bold next step. Video cameras track you in stores and are also cropping up in many public places. Point of Sale systems and Credit cards already record of what you buy, credit-rating agencies know if payments are late. Web sites record your browsing preferences. Insurance companies store your medical data on computers, which can be hacked. Wiretapping phones, legal and otherwise, is on the rise. Many people find this trend alarming, and they should. But privacy between people only gives us a false sense of privacy, someone has your information and a lot more than you think. Why not just make it public and not give companies or government any advantage of power. The next step may force them to be less private (though doubtful).
Science-fiction writer David Brin, argues that in a more perfect world, privacy might matter less than we think. Many others assert exactly the opposite: that privacy is critical to our way of life. I can’t tell you if this is a good thing, society and companies will do that for you if you have no opinion of your own. But each of us carry a critical role of trying to error-correct cyberspace.