WhatsApp, Web3 and Wordle: Evolving a Digital Society

We live in a networked world. Between our laptops, our phones, and the smart gadgets in our kitchen, many of us are online 24/7. We work and play, communicate and collaborate, across digital networks powered by open protocols - the standards and specifications that form the backbone of the modern internet.

But within the last decade, we’ve seen many online interactions move away from open protocols and onto closed platforms. We’ve abandoned SMS for Signal and WhatsApp, we’ve abandoned email in favour of Slack, Teams, and Discord; restaurants use Instagram and Facebook instead of running their own websites. And, most of the time, it works – but as more and more of our digital experiences are mediated by corporations and the platforms they control, what does this mean for the future of the internet? Amidst all the hype about “web 3” and the “metaverse”, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves how we got here, and remember what’s at stake. We’ll look back at the promise of “web 2.0” and what it actually delivered, we’ll talk about digital identity and net neutrality - and we’ll learn what the Apollo/Soyuz space missions have to do with the digital protocols that underlie our connected society.

Other talks by Dylan Beattie