Moving Back To The Internet

Yes, I know that it seems the Internet has swallowed the world, but that isn’t quite true. What actually happened was more or less the opposite: The world has captured the Internet.

If that still sounds backwards to you, please stay with me. I’ll begin making sense of it by explaining how this post came together for me:

Last week I published an article that I knew would not be appreciated in certain circles. But for me, their approval or disapproval didn’t really matter, because I posted it directly to the Internet, not to some intermediate service.

Right away, I got a comment from someone who reported that, “I got banned on Reddit for saying this.” I had no doubt that the report was true (I’ve heard many of that type), but when I thought of something to say in reply, all that lept to mind were things like, “Sorry to hear” and “Glad you spoke the truth anyway.” I felt that there was more to be said, but I wasn’t sure what.

And then I remembered the old days, as the Internet was first spreading across the world, to the horror of entrenched interests like the New York Times. It was an intoxicating time. There were no gatekeepers and interesting people were popping up on every side. Anyone could say whatever was on their mind. Not all of it was great, but it was free, open, unrestricted speech and thought. The overlords had no levers to grab, and the future opened up wide.

In those days, getting onto the Internet was almost like walking out of a prison, and we all felt an odd, almost subversive aspect to it.

Those of you who were too young to experience this, please try to ask someone who was there.

Since then, the Internet has been overtaken by hucksters, techno-sociopaths, and mercenaries who saw it only as a something to exploit.

Rather than going through details on the process, I’ll simply say that intel agencies built mass surveillance systems, until Ferengi types with addictive services (think cyber cigs) started feeding them deep surveillance on billions of people at once.

Over the past fifteen years, the vast majority of Internet traffic has been herded into Google, Facebook and Twitter, where people were very carefully monitored and controlled.

And so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen massive censorship and banning over the past few years: That was possible only because these holding pens aren’t actually the Internet: they are merely attached to the Internet.

That, of course, is what I ended up responding: Reddit is not the Internet; it’s a holding pen attached to the Internet.

The Internet was a wide-open, decentralized and free place, with no gatekeepers and no punishers; nor did it have almost any type of hierarchy: everyone was on the same level.

The Internet, in those early days, was the embodiment of actual freedom. It was a realm of the mind, not the realm of “free stuff.”

This chart may help you to understand the difference:

The Internet

NOT The Internet

Web sites




Comment sections


What I saw”


Alta Vista




It’s Still Here

The Internet is still here. On it, you can say whatever you want, or nearly so. It still has a Fed problem, but shutting people down with court orders is a lot harder than running an algorithm to obliterate thousands of people at once.

And so, I think it’s time for a migration back to the Internet. It’s not perfect, but it is massively less bad than shiny holding pens masquerading as the Internet.

I’ll bring this to a close with a prescient passage from Ray Bradbury:

We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking.

The Internet was where we thought, fought, learned, discovered and developed.

The holding pens are where flashing images, explosions, distractions and endless outrages hammer minds into submission, thereby enthroning purposely- and repetitively-triggered reflexes.

May all who are able escape.


Paul Rosenberg

5 thoughts on “Moving Back To The Internet”

  1. I’ve been asked to post a bit more on the old systems that people are now unfamiliar with. So, briefly:

    Usenet, or more properly Usenet Newsgroups, were used almost like email. You’d get all the messages for your group, as they posted. (You could often get a digest version instead, once per week). There were thousands of available groups. And again, there were few gatekeepers, as most groups were unmoderated. Newsgroups still exist, but are far less used. You can get the basic info here:

    AltaVista was the best search engine for several important years. It was subsequently purchased by Yahoo, then abandoned. I’d pay to get AltaVista back. Some info here:

  2. Paul,

    Very nice piece, especially for the inspirational potential and to show us a way of/for what is possible. The title of the blog itself was a brilliant choice and made me wonder what the contents were about but also because it shows how large of an entity the internet is, and how much more diverse and how much larger it could be, even though much of it is curated and censored by a few players.

    I find the RSS (Really Simple Syndication/ Rich Site Summary) technology carries similar themes to the ones covered in this blog post and shows the power of certain technologies and how we can empower ourselves when there are less layers between what we want to do, the technologies we choose/use and ourselves. I never got very favourable responses when I have posted James Corbett’s “Really Simple Syndication – #SolutionsWatch” video. It seemed either too difficult or not convenient enough for people compared to the mindless, behind the scenes puppet manipulation of feeds appearing on a given social media or other tech platform.

    I remember the older days of the internet, and although it might have been slow, less slick and not so filled with gadgetry, there was a freeing, empowering feel to it. It seemed powerful and empowering at the time. Why was that not good enough? How could we learn from that time and do things differently—especially so that it is reverse compatible—in the sense that we do not loose the simplicity, privacy, freedom, integrity and empowerement which seemed to be more common and attainable then.

    I also liked one of (which I have listened to so far) your podcasts on the theme of cryptography. It is very powerful and true what you bring up about the power of cryptography and how those using it do not have to be ultra smart or the designers of such cryptographic systems. I couldn’t agree more about people that people have to “populate” these systems and technologies. Given how tyrannical, censoring, uncaring and all encompasing the controlling “obsoletes” (instead of elites) and their caging systems have become, this is the way to go.

    Thanks for all of this and for providing a different, refreshing view.


    1. I echo Louis’ thanks for providing a refreshing and encouraging view, thank you FMP!

      Louis, check out Podcasting 2.0 & the Value 4 Value movement. I think might find that the simplicity, privacy, freedom, integrity and empowerment you miss from the early internet era are not only alive and thriving, but on the cusp of a new golden age!

  3. Luckily, as you say here, free speech on the Internet is still available. Your site is a perfect example: no one pores over your columns with a red pencil, unless you ask them to. You rightly lament that relatively few people today avail themselves of the free side of the Internet, and I agree that everyone should be encouraged to do so.

    If the government were to take legal steps against people like you, to “clean up” what you post, we’d be in real trouble. As things stand, the core of people who explore outside the world of Facebook et al cannot be extinguished, and can only grow.

  4. Having a dad that worked in IT in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s (although he called it “data processing” back then), I was exposed to computing and the internet early. I think I first used dial-up “bulletin boards” as a pre-teen in the mid-80s and then I was on the internet by 1993 or so. I agree that it was a revolution and a much more free time, where everyone sensed the possibilities for free thought and sharing of all kinds of ideas. It really is too bad most of us didn’t foresee the inevitable capture of large swaths of the internet by corporate-state oligarchs who wished to monitor our speech, opinions, and thoughts – when they weren’t actively weaponizing psychology to manipulate and “nudge” them, that is. Since 2020, I’ve made a concerted effort to shun or shut down my accounts on deep-state technocrat propaganda dissemination sites like FB, Twitter, Fark, BBC, CNN, Google, etc as a form of protest. I value independent sites like this one and places where voices have free reign to attempt to sway opinion. Substack and Rumble might not be perfect, but they’re light-years better than 90% of the rest of the internet swamp.

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