Where is the Internet going?

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

28 November 2006

The Internet has morphed from a mere cyber-store window for the well paid executive to a far more manageable and egalitarian form of communication. The Internet is destined to go where we, the everyday users, want and need it.

What really is the Internet?

The Internet is a self-regulating organic body with its own life force--a homeostatic form of nature whose future opportunities and challenges are impossible to foretell. The Internet has always been something of a rebel, and even those executives presumptuous enough to believe their experience in the business world ensures their success on the Internet have failed miserably.

How has it evolved over the last decade?

Today the Internet is a far cry from what it was in the late 1990s. Its dimensions, physiognomy and composition bear little resemblance to what many of the so-called "network pioneers" would have imagined. Back then, the Internet was little more than a cyber-shop window-- a carousel of commercial trademarks, corporate websites, indecipherable mysteries and cost barriers that had to be mastered before someone could “join the club” and earn the right to speak. More money meant better designers and the proliferation of rotating, sparkling logos on the network. It was image-making at its best. A website was something to be seen; it portrayed an image of modernity and top design and was made to sell. It embodied the old idea of image, but with the modern concept of no-tie needed.

How can we all benefit equally from the Internet?

The root cause of the crisis--or the bursting of the cyber bubble--can be traced to this idea of image. It arose from executives who, after reading a handful of books, thought they had "taken the toy apart" and understood "the rules of the Internet". Today, the Internet is the most powerful tool for enabling individuals, clients and people in general to express themselves, give their opinions, create content and relate to each other. And the powerful magnates of the Internet are not those who maintain the idea of "more of the same", but rather those who understand and exalt the capacity for personal expression. The masters of the Internet today are those executives who have moved away from the illusory vision of "controlling the Internet" and who have understood that, at best, they will ride the wave of the times without ever really knowing how it works or how to dominate it.

Today´s Internet has less and less to do with large companies and superstar executives. Rather, today´s Internet will go where we, as users, take it.

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