Photo by li li on Unsplash
Hi, I'm Mark Nadal and I create useful tools that I give away for free. To a lot of people, 8M+ people have used my technology as a result of it becoming an invisible yet critical layer of infrastructure. But it is not the digital roads and bridges that I have built that I want to talk to you about, it is how and why we use them.
I have been doing a lot of thinking this last year about why we use technology. I have interviewed with psychologists at Stanford, consulted with ex-EFF attorneys on law & privacy, and have had lunch dates with billionaires. What is it, that makes up all this wealth, data, and fame on the internet?
It turns out you do not need to be a rocket scientist to find the answer. We all want to be in relation with the world and others. We yearn for something greater than ourselves, and we revel in being praised by others. Perhaps the trope of "all you need is love" is way too accurate.
Words are important, not for what they will say, but for the dumbness of saying something. There are two worlds of thought on this, that either we are squawking animals that have somehow become enlightened, or that humanity was crafted and born for greatness. Either way, both cultures agree on the same thing, that as a species we can go somewhere meaningful if we're willing to talk about it.
Unfortunately though, most of that language either looks like a monkey squawking nonsensically, or people killing over whose purpose is the "right" one. And so the torch of words is passed on by cult, tribe, clan and nation, over whose superhero said the thing, not the merit of the what the words are suppose to mean. But given enough time, these words spread, and even the dumbest and smartest of us all are infected with some meme. For better, or for worse.
Superheroes are important, they create the rallying tribes, the throngs of masses waiting for preachings and the communion of like-minded others they resonate with. For better, or for worse. Institutions and organizations are built around these huddlings, and civilizations are born. All indoctrinated in some cult-ahem, culture. Blinded by the brilliance of their success, they presume their supremacy, and lock down the platform, militarizing it for growth.
To grow, you must have distribution beyond the reach of your own platform, such that your words may come to infect the foreigner. And so humanity reached out, through war and trade, conflict and peace, and built roads and bridges over every thousand of years. We were invaded and invaded, your family was lost and won, your tribe victimized and victorious. Such fertile blood was cast over such feudal reasons.
And then humanity built the biggest pipe of all. The Internet. Memetic warfare at its finest, but no blood could be carried. The mills got brewing, and ideas spewing. A firehose of words to spray upon every soul and a torch of viral fever to emote into every mind. We came for the song and dance, but got burned by those who built the bonfire.
We exposed ourselves to the flame like a moth, our seeking of higher purpose and deeper relationships made us vulnerable to the hidden engineering of dubious masterminds. We feel naked and plundered, stripped of our dignity, ashamed of our curiosity. Stockholm syndrome, we love the tools we've been equipped with but hate the prying creeping eye of the demons and gods over us.
I have fought strongly for privacy, I have built tools to protect us, but I'm realizing now it is more transparency that I want, that levels the playing field of opportunity. Growing up, I rooted for "tech" because it gave me a voice to be heard where I previously had none. On the school grounds I had bullies, but online I could transcend my circumstance, overcome my mortal environment, and find friends who truly understood me. We were all the underdogs fighting for a better future.
But then they became the bastards of "Big Tech", bullies using informational power rather than physical power. If our thoughts do not conform to their agenda, they will lock our words outs into meaningless echo chambers, while they sit behind closed doors orchestrating puppet levers. But now that we know their misdeeds, it is up to us to build a better future.
The Personal Platform.
What if you had a tool that posted your words to every platform? Now if one platform censors you, it doesn't matter. It turns platforms into just another dumb pipe to amplify your voice to. Then you'd simply have a bigger platform, and more pipes. Rather than retreating from Big Tech, you'd become as powerful as Google and Facebook combined.
Think about that, all that power in your pocket. But this time, it is not the establishment manipulating you, it is you doing the manipulating yourself. Why do we have advertisements that berate us into buying something, instead of reminders of our upcoming appointments? Why do we have behavioral tracking instead of quantified self metrics that only we can see? Why do we have to login to a site when we already logged online? Why do they give us a newsfeed when we usually feed ourselves, are we babies not adults?
The Big Tech Platform is Patriarchy, Plutocracy by Programmers.
Empower the self, and you get the Egalitarians of the Everyone.
The Future is the Personal Platform, an operating system over your own destiny.
In 1989 computers were considered business machines, this is why IBM is called IBM. The idea that an ordinary person would ever operate a computer was a laughable construct. But Steve Jobs and Bill Gates saw things a little differently, in 1990 they saw that the future would be the PC, Personal Computers, and launched Windows 3.0 and NeXT. And they were right, billions of everyday people came to adopt computers. So many people had computers, that we decided to Web them together.
But then the platforms came and monopolized the web. Now, in 2019, the majority of our computers are dumb pipes for "Big Tech" to push their agenda to. Only a business would be able to operate a platform, no? It would be laughable if a layperson could run a platform that had billions of people in its reach. It is ridiculous to think that someone would actually want to own their own contact list. Surely, only Disney, Netflix, YouTube, CNN, and Fox need that many friends.
Then, in 2020, you and I saw things a little differently, and the Personal Platform was born. By the end of the decade, billions had joined.