The internet is no longer young. It has matured, and has grown up into a beautiful adult.
But that adult is not as beautiful its founders have dreamt of. And this time, the Internet Archive, which has been preserving much of the web through its 'Wayback Machine' initiative, is introducing people to the possible future of the web, through what it calls the 'Wayforward Machine.'
The https://wayforward.archive.org/ website that has been made available at Internet Archive's website, predicts what the web may look like a quarter of a century from now.
The non-profit organization takes the opportunity to voice it thoughts by showing how dark, dull and grim the future of the internet can be, during its 25th birthday.
"On the 25th anniversary of the Internet Archive, we’re looking forward to the year 2046. Will we have access to trustworthy information online? Will knowledge be free and open?" asked the Internet Archive.
When visiting the Wayforward Machine, what users have to do, is enter an URL of a site.
When using the Wayback Machine will uncover the past looks of websites, the Wayforward Machine on the other hand, will show a version of websites filled with pop-ups.
As shown below, pages are covered with banners of notifications, inaccessible content and more.
At times, there can be messages that say "the website you are trying to access features information that the owner(s) have opted to restrict to users that have not shared their personal information."
Another reads "This site contains information that is currently classified as Thought Crime in your region."
While there is no way for anything to predict what will happen in the future with a 100% accuracy, the Internet Archive is making a point here.
If the internet is decentralized, if things went according to its founders, information should be freely available and accessible by anyone without limitations. However, the modern internet is controlled by only a few, and many of those few are business titans that somehow managed to centralize the flow on information.
The commercial entities control the web's economy, by showing what it wants to show, and to whom, and monetize the engagements of people in way that they want.
If things are progressing the way things are right now, the Internet Archive suggests that in the future, free and open access to knowledge on the web may become far more limited.
Activists, and sources of free and uncontrolled information may be forced underground, where resistance is going to happen
The Wayforward Machine even compiled a series of possible future events in a timeline to better explain these things.
"The future depends on us," the Internet Archive said. "Access to good information is not a given. If you value it, you have to protect it."