Enough Good To Go Around: A New Internet Currency
We’re facing serious challenges as a planet and a society as we head into the third decade of the 21st Century. My wife and I have three amazing grown children and one grandchild, and the generational view continues to broaden and lengthen as we consider the future. While some may believe that we can try and solve problems through politics and government, as an Internet entrepreneur and investor for over thirty years, I’m more inclined to believe that innovators will save the world.
Allow me to explain.
The Internet has changed the very nature of our existence and what it means to be human. In almost everything we do we connect over the Internet. We make calls, we send texts, we share photos, we buy things, order food, and follow the news – whether it’s real or fake. We find parking spots, we find good deals, we do almost all our professional work, we receive healthcare, we date, we travel, we donate, and a million other things – with one or more taps or swipes.
In the 1980s and 1990s, when I began investing in and inventing companies based on the Internet and IP networking (IXnet and IPC built the world’s first financial extranet in the late 1990s), the Internet broadened in scope to support distributed IT for universities and research centers, then public entities, institutions, and private enterprises from around the world.
The Internet went from being a government-funded project to the largest computer network in the world, comprising over 50,000 sub-networks, 4 million systems, and 70 million users in a few short years.
The emergence of web 2.0 in 2000 made possible the rise of social media and other interactive, crowd-based communication tools – one to one – one to many – many to many.
The Internet became a sophisticated multidisciplinary tool enabling individuals to create content, communicate with one another, and more and more – escape reality.
Changes in social communication continue to transform how we communicate, create, collaborate and commercialize ideas. The Internet has removed barriers and reduced the cost of “marketing” those ideas dramatically including down to zero, depending on how large a following one creates. I use Facebook to stay in touch with thousands of friends, as well as my immediate family, and LinkedIn to connect instantly with business associates, investors, colleagues, and thousands of companies.
Mobility changed everything when mobile web became faster and more intuitive, with better smart phones and tablets, better applications, better broadband and now even BETTER broadband with the advent of 5G wireless networking (and on its heels, 6G).
The Internet has the potential to make everything better: smarter cities, safer transportation, more efficient and effective healthcare, educational access for all.
The Internet has the potential to improve cultural understanding, to build global ecosystems for business, to connect communities with purpose-driven ideas (curing cancer, addressing poverty, eliminating hunger, reversing carbon emissions, providing support for those with mental illnesses, matching kids with adoptive families, matching pets with the same).
The Internet is one of the key factors driving the economy, and we have an opportunity to ensure no one who wishes to learn and work hard is left behind. Even in a tough economy, the Internet can foster growth, coupled with enhanced productivity and competitiveness.
ENOUGH GOOD TO GO AROUND
The best the Internet is yet to come. The key is finding ways to create value out of all this connectedness, and that value can be measured in traditional currencies (money), alternative currencies (crypto/digital) and what I like to call the New Currency (the good energy that forms and naturally leads to positive outcomes at a huge scale).
The future is brimming with opportunities, and the future of the Internet has only just begun; watch for huge leaps in 2020!
Of course, we are seeing many negative impacts arising from Internet-based applications. We’re seeing social media being hijacked by foreign adversaries attempting to attack democracy. We’re seeing our rights to free and fair elections being diluted and possibly destroyed. We’re seeing criminal activity, identity theft, fraudulent schemes, darknet communities harming children and supporting human trafficking. We’re struggling to balance governance and protections of innocent people and the right to freedom of speech. All this, and more, causes us to stop and wonder if the Internet was “worth it.”
I assure you, there is more good than harm possible, but in order for us to drive positive outcomes, we need to find new ways, build new mechanisms to ensure the “new currency” – that of the exchange of positive energy and limitless opportunities – thrives over the next ten years and beyond. Future generations depend on it.