I Answer Questions: Internet Making the World Better or Worse?

What's the role of the Internet in making the world better? What's the role of Gemini in making the world better? If none, why care about Gemini?

In the last couple of years I've mostly seen talk about how the Internet hasn't fulfilled its promise of making the world better. Centralised social media, algorithmic amplification, the control of military drones or state surveillance, proof or work cryptocurrencies. A lot of bad things are enabled by the Internet, and the Internet itself has grown to a size where it's responsible for a disproportional part of greenhouse gas emissions.

That said good things are enabled by the very same technology. Holding conferences online can often reduce the carbon footprint by replacing unnecessary flying. Remote controlled robots can enable expert surgeons to perform operations far away without travelling there, which can sometimes be hard or even impossible. The Internet allows us to be informed of what happens in combat zones and authoritarian states which would otherwise be a black box to us outside of them. Likewise it allows citizens in said states to reach information that would otherwise be withheld from them.

The Internet is made for sharing of information, and it's excellent at doing that. Thanks to the Internet the scientific community is making progress at an unprecedented pace. The amount of data generated by CERN alone wouldn't be possible to analyse without the distributed computing environments used.

Is Gemini, specifically, making the world better, though? I don't know. Strictly speaking Gemini doesn't really do anything new. Its role was to some extent already fulfilled by Gopher or the web. But small things can also make the world better. Through Gemini I've found a community open to experimentation and have been introduced to ideas like permacomputing and sustainable computing. I have tried to dive into Gopher, where much of that is available as well, but have found it clunky and hard to like.

Maybe Gemini doesn't make the world better, on the other hand. Does it matter? I don't think it makes the world worse off in any way. We who use it are entertained and find personal value in it. To me that's very much enough.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal