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The Internet Is About to Get Weird Again

2024 offers many of the promises of an online moment we haven’t seen in a quarter-century.


30 Dec 2023

Across today’s internet, the stores that deliver all the apps on our phones are cracking open, the walls between social media platforms are coming down as the old networks fail, the headlong rush towards AI is making our search engines and work apps weirder (and often worse!). But amidst it all, the human web, the one made by regular people, is resurgent. We are about to see the biggest reshuffling of power on the internet in 25 years, in a way that most of the internet’s current users have never seen before. And while some of the drivers of this change have been hyped up, or even over-hyped, a few of the most important changes haven’t gotten any discussion at all.

The first thing to understand about this new era of the internet is that power is, undoubtedly, shifting.

That’s not just good news for the billions of people who own smartphones. It’s part of a sea change for the coders and designers who build the apps, sites, and games we all use. For an entire generation, the imagination of people making the web has been hemmed in by the control of a handful of giant companies that have had enormous control over things like search results, or app stores, or ad platforms, or payment systems. Going back to the more free-for-all nature of the Nineties internet could mean we see a proliferation of unexpected, strange new products and services. 

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