In January, Ben Thompson wrote a prescient article about how the Internet was now maturing from a pure economic scale machine leveraging network effects (Internet 2.0) to politics, or more accurately, geopolitics (Internet 3.0).
It turns out that when it comes to Information Technology, very little is settled; after decades of developing the Internet and realizing its economic potential, the entire world is waking up to the reality that the Internet is not simply a new medium, but a new maker of reality.
This idea has also been forming in my brain for a long time. I wrote even before the beginning of the pandemic on how the Internet would be geofenced in at least three relatively independent economic and socio-cultural zones, and I doubled down recently.
I love that Ben formulates it in so many details. You should also appreciate that is using the term Internet 3.0 to pretty much describe the opposite of the weak-sauce web 3.0 idea we've been fed lately by a few tech companies. No, the web is certainly not going back to a free-flowing utopia.
We painstakingly understood how we went from a Fordist economy to the Internet 2.0 platform economy. But now we have hit what I would call a Metcalfe ceiling: there's no more room for the social graph to grow and network effects of propagating. Not only that, but frontiers are reappearing worldwide because of states' will to seize back sovereignty and politics away of Facebook or Alibaba, because of Covid disinformation, because of Russia propaganda against democracies, and now Ukraine.
I don't see many tech platforms walking away from this unscathed on the business side of things. The illusion of just being a neutral operator is gone.
What it means for the future of our economies will be quite fascinating to follow up ...