2021: Year of the Alternative Internet

In a Post-Insurrectionist Pandemic, does the customer need software, two-day shipping, or followers? Maybe. Or perhaps they need humanity most.

Written by Jory Des Jardins, CMO at The @ Company.

Black and white person sitting at computer with colorful streams bursting out of it
Black and white person sitting at computer with colorful streams bursting out of it
Illustration by Clark William Miller
A comparison shot of the two Olivias.
A comparison shot of the two Olivias.
IMAGE: pbs.com

In light of recent events, as we are literally grappling with conflicts arising from different socio-political realities colliding, I’ve been feeling disorientation, anger, and the odd glimmer of Optimism amidst the bleakness. The Pandemic has not so much been the cause of my disorientation as the instigator of awareness; a point of Singularity that has forced open a hole into another world that has been operating alongside the one I thought I was living in, operating under very different intentions, surreptitiously calling the shots.

The Internet has, in many ways, been our savior during a rough time, and yet there are pockets of overreach disguised as technological progress. Being a marketer I’m told implicitly and explicitly that the root cause of failure comes from not knowing enough about your customer-not having enough data, not leveraging the data you do have to meet demand at the point of optimal need. But in a Pandemic does the customer need software, two-day shipping, or followers? Maybe. Or perhaps they need humanity most. But I’m told not to trust my human instincts until I have proof points that can only be derived from the data: my likes, my bored meanderings on a Website with interesting light fixtures I’m not going to buy but that will now follow me around in Internet perpetuity.

Man in suit and black hat looks distrustfully at several men in front of him.
Man in suit and black hat looks distrustfully at several men in front of him.

So then, what’s my relationship status with the Internet today? It’s complicated.

I love it still, just as I love two-day Amazon delivery. But I find small ways to wean myself off of the unchallenged use of my data and inconveniences I endure, thinking these are the price of progress.

The Alternative Internet

So then, why the Optimism? Because I’m not alone. There’s a Fringe unit making its way in the world. It’s not part of the Alternate World of the Internet; it’s shedding light on an Alternative online world, where we get to keep the parts we love about the Internet, but the pasty Observers can’t get in. Intelligence isn’t hoarded by any one side. It’s owned by all of us, and shared at our discretion when we’re asked.

The only “rule” is “Ecto gammat” which fans of the film The Fifth Element may recall means “Not without my permission.” The underlying value is trust.

Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element points a gun at a man while snarling, “Ecto gammat.”
Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element points a gun at a man while snarling, “Ecto gammat.”

A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR: The @ Company:

Cartoon of blue-haired woman holding an @sign in her hand and posing in front of a camera.

Now for some Internet Optimism

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