The Internet Used to be Smaller and Nicer. Let’s Get It Back.

MY FIRST exposure to the internet was in two novels I read as a teenager: “Snowcrash” (1992) and “Neuromancer” (1984). They are set in dystopian visions of the future, where the power of technology has been co-opted to mostly control the population. But both feature independent, compelling protagonists who use their talents as hackers, digital natives, to save themselves, and a select group of those they care about.

It was not hard to see myself as one of these cypherpunks, someone who cared about the privacy of everyone that wanted to use the internet. Someone who worried that corporations, if left unchecked, would turn us into digital serfs, just as authors Neal Stephenson and William Gibson had described.

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