No such thing as the internet

Six decades after the Advanced Research Projects Agency of America’s Defence Department (ARPA) began funding research on time-sharing between computers, which led eventually to the revolutionary technology we call the internet, the time has come to drop the definite article.

Just as the claim that politicians are merely following “the science” when it comes to the pandemic is an attempt to create the illusion of consensus, so talk of “the internet” now refers to a phantom.

Today there is no such thing as the internet. There are internets – plural – with different, indeed rival, systems erupting in many places, but two dominant kingdoms: an American (OK, Californian) internet, and a Chinese one. The latter, being the product of the Communist Party, has a plan to win the future. The former, being a collection of disparate and competing companies, does not.

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