I experienced the Internet in 2046 ahead of time and it felt terrible

As Internet citizens, we are consuming content every day while also producing content. Do you know how much data the Internet generates every day?

According to the statistics of cloud data processing company Domo, the amount of data generated every day in 2020 will reach approximately 1.145 trillion MB. If all these data are stored with hard disks, more than one million 1TB hard disks can be filled every day.

The Internet is like an unfathomable ocean, with new "tides" pouring in every day, but what few people notice is that the speed of Internet data disappearing is not much slower than this.

The closure of a blog site, the failure of a server provider, or a malicious intrusion by a hacker can cause some Internet data to disappear completely in the world, which may include photos of precious memories and key historical documents. , With the disappearance of the original data, these will be forgotten by mankind forever.

In order to preserve this civilization composed of characters as much as possible, a non-profit digital library called the Internet Archive in the United States has collected a large number of web pages, videos, audios, software and e-books.

Since 1996, the Internet Archive has used web crawlers to crawl and archive a large number of web pages. So far, there have been more than 351 billion web pages, which is called the "Time Machine" (Wayback Machine) project.

The page of "Time Machine" is very simple, with only one input field and search button, a bit like search engines such as Google. Enter the website you want to "go back to the past" in the input field, select the date you want to go through, and you can view the screenshots of the webpage that was saved that day.

▲ Fanfuku on November 2, 2007

Even for some websites that have long ceased to exist due to poor management and other reasons, you are very likely to find a historical backup in the "time machine". This is also one of the ideas of the Internet Archive: to protect the fragile Internet information.

2021 is exactly the 25th anniversary of the birth of the Internet Archive. It has recorded nearly a quarter of a century of Internet history. In order to commemorate this special node, the Internet Archive has made some "renovations" to their time machines. This time They not only want to record history, but also take you "back to the future."

Will the Internet still be good in 2046?

The new project of the Internet Archive is called Wayforward Machine, which is also a time machine, but its role is to take you through the future, the time is 2046.

The page of "Future Time Machine" retains the concise style of "Time Machine", and the black and green color scheme of the Matrix adds a little futuristic sense of technology geeks to it.

Enter the URL in the middle address bar, and you can see what it looks like in 2046 in advance. With a little nervous and excited mood, I typed www.Apple.com to see if the iPhone 38 uses 65W. Fast Charge.

After waiting patiently, this 25-year jump was finally completed. However, the first thing I saw was not the familiar black and white Logo, but a serious "warning" that required me to submit personal information before browsing.

After following the guide and filling in a series of personal information such as name, address, mobile phone number, age, gender, etc., I still can’t enter the website to view iPhone 38, and things have become weird: the information requested by the website is getting more and more private, coded from the zip code. To my weight, height and other physiological information, and I can't fill it out.

I tried to browse Nintendo's official website in 2046 to see if the 4K mini LED screen was used in the new Switch, but I was also blocked.

The website reminds me that I need to complete biometric authentication, and "humanized" it provides both retina and fingerprint authentication.

What's more "excessive" is that if I agree to the authentication, I will default to accepting advertisers to push personalized advertisements based on my biological data.

Of course, none of this actually happened. The "Future Time Machine" will not scan your biological information, nor will it record your private data, nor will it really simulate a webpage in 2046. This is all the Internet. A performance art-like prank planned by the archives.

No matter what URL you enter in the "Future Time Machine", it will block you with various pop-up windows, and these "network obstacles" are actually the future of the Internet that the Internet Archive considers.

When in 2046 you want to go to a music website to find "Cultivation of Love" that you listened to in your childhood, you may find that the website was closed as early as 2029, and hundreds of thousands of sentimental commentary stories that have been recorded late at night will follow. Disappear together.

Or when you go to some blog sites and want to view information, you may encounter the site owner blocking public browsing and extending the copyright protection of its content for 200 years.

The Internet Archive's imagination of the Internet in 2046 is full of dystopian colors. Some of its speculations are unavoidably bold and radical. However, it is an indisputable fact that the Internet is slowly moving from its original advertised "free" and "open" to closed.

▲ Picture from: The Atlantic

The problem of bad links is an important cause of information closure. In June of this year, the Atlantic Monthly published an article titled "The Internet is rotting". The author Jonathan Zittrain and his colleagues have done a series of research on the issue of web link failure since 2014.

Take the authoritative academic journal "Harvard Law Review" as an example, 75% of its citation links have long been invalid, which means that if the problem of bad links continues to develop, people will encounter de facto chain of custody in the near future The dilemma of total collapse-no one can tell the truth from the truth, because no one knows the truth.

In addition, more and more personal data censorship and the issuance of regulatory regulations have also made the Internet Archive feel pessimistic about the future of the Internet.

For this reason, it predicts the timeline of major events that may occur on the Internet in the next 25 years. For example, a severe digital copyright law will be passed in 2024 to crack down on free knowledge, the world’s three largest publishers will merge to monopolize digital media in 2034, and the Internet archives in 2046. The museum will be forced to move into underground activities.

And its "Time Machine" project will be forced to terminate as early as 2025. In fact, the Internet Archive has already received lawsuits from four publishers.

To meticulously record history and share knowledge is to fight the future

Through the "time machine", you can find many interesting and meaningful things.

For example, you can witness how Apple's official website has changed from "ugly duckling" to "white swan" step by step.

It not only records the design changes of the website, but also the changes of an era. However, due to its free opening of digital content to people, the Internet Archive is being opposed by more and more publishers.

The Internet Archive is not alone on the road to open knowledge. Another controversial knowledge website, Sci-Hub, also celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Sci-Hub is almost a well-known but unspeakable secret in the scientific research circle: you can bypass the paywall and download almost all scientific papers you want to read for free, without registration or subscription.

Its purpose is to promote the openness and dissemination of knowledge, but from a commercial point of view, this kind of behavior is infringing.

▲ Picture from: Futurism

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakin was sued by academic publisher giant Elsevier in 2017, demanding damages of US$15 million, but this behavior was not supported by researchers.

Some people say that the Internet Archives, Sci-Hub, EEF and other websites are rebels in the copyright age and an alien in the capital-ridden Internet world. Others comment that they are the last guardians of the Internet spark.

▲ Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive Picture from: The New York Times

No one knows when they will stop confronting the legal red line, but their founders have released the same signal in different interviews: they will stick to it until no one supports it.

In the end, some friends may wonder why the "Future Time Machine" chose the year 2046. Is it influenced by the director Wong Kar Wai?

In fact, this is only because by 2046, the Internet Archive has just recorded the history of the Internet for half a century-if the Internet still exists at that time.

Higher, higher.

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