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The future of the Internet isn't AI. It's human

Covering culture, tech, luxury, travel, and media, twice a week


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Kate Moss by Corinne Day (2006) © Estate of Corinne Day / Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London / trunkarchive.com 

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The future of the Internet is human

All we want. All we need.


In case you haven’t noticed, Reddit (took their unpaid forum moderators for granted), Spotify (unprofitable podcast division), Snapchat (loses a billion dollars every year), BeReal (boring) and Twitter (where to begin?) are all struggling with some significant challenges these days.

Some of those challenges —like, super uncertain economic conditions, higher expectations from investors, and the rise of AI— are universal.

Other challenges —like the self-imposed problems brought forth by the moody and unpredictable folks in charge of Twitter and Reddit— are a bit more specific.


Behind all this drama: increasing pressure to generate increasing profits. That is also why every app you use seems to be copying TikTok.

See, today’s social media platforms are scrambling to introduce new features —and actively pivoting towards data monetization in the background— while also closing their walls to prevent their data from being freely scraped by generative AI providers at the same time.

That’s a lot. And while these chaotic moves are in response to a wide range of forces, humming along in the background is a pretty massive transition that’s been unfolding in real time for a minute, now: The Internet is transforming.

It’s morphing from:

(a) an open, public social space, provided by firms focused on growing their user base by connecting users to one another, to

(b) more of a personal space, created by firms focused on entertaining users —while also generating max revenue.


Here’s the thing, though: Despite the focus on entertainment, people still want to connect with one another.

And if they’re not getting it on TikTok and Instagram, they’ll seek it out elsewhere.

That’s changing the dynamics of the social web today, as consumers gravitate towards group chats, private messaging, and forums.


This is all actually kind of quaint, and reminiscent of the earlier stages of the Internet, when chat rooms and forums reigned supreme.

But this mass migration to group chats and private forums has actually left a void in the regular Internet.

As The Verge recently put it, no platform today provides the feel of a collective, communal hangout, one where diverse interests and conversations co-exist.

Platforms that once felt like a unified space are segmenting, much like how the rest of media is segmenting into individualized entertainment streams.

But, believe it or not, users really do long for a space where other folks congregate.


Ever heard of it?

Funny name, but an intriguing concept. As Wikipedia puts it, the fediverse (a portmanteau of "federation" and "universe") is a collection of interconnected (ie., “federated”) servers used for web publishing like microblogging, social networking and file hosting.

Some vaguely resemble Twitter (ie., Mastodon, Bluesky), while others feel more like Facebook. The servers these products run on are independently hosted, but can communicate with each other.

Enthusiasts are excited about fediverse software platforms because they are an example of a more decentralized, more open social web —and are usually free/open-source.

BUT. These platforms are still in their infancy. They have usability issues, like accessibility, as well as finding relevant content.


Then there’s chat apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal. These have innovated over the years as well.

Today, users are able to broadcast messages to thousands of others, and connect with any other user on these apps. But, at the end of the day, these chat apps were set up for 1 to 1 communications. They were never built to support large, diverse communities from scratch.

(Group platforms, like Slack and Discord, do exist, and they could potentially fill this human connection gap. But, neither has really caught mainstream fire on their own. The quest for a holistic, inclusive, and efficient social networking platform continues.)


The landscape of the Internet is changing beneath all of our feet.

And the seismic shifts we're witnessing in the social landscape, just might be the first pre tremors of a more profound transformation.

We could be on the cusp of the quote-unquote “neo-analog” era of the internet.

This is a world where smaller, more personal digital enclaves replace our sprawling social networks.


This newsletter believes that the advent of generative AI —which will allow more and more people to produce more and more content, at scale— will paradoxically increase the value of the human written word.

We believe a significant subset of Internet users are actually seeking a future where the digital social space is far more private, personal, and human than anything we've seen before.

Look for a renaissance in communication and content consumption, stripping away the excesses of the social media era and reclaiming the Internet as a hub for genuine, focused, and meaningful human interaction.

(This already exists, by the way: I’m essentially describing Reddit and Quora. But prepare for a boost in all sorts of similar platforms.)


OK, so what’s this mean for me?

In our view, both individuals and companies can capitalize on this seismic shift towards a more personal Internet.

Here are the two main strategies Fate v Future and our clients are considering right now. Could one or both be right for your business?

  1. Go on, build a private community. You know you want to! Fate v Future believes that businesses are sitting on an historic opportunity to create and monetize private communities around hyper specific interests or niches.

Brands should facilitate their own private communities, via subscription based community, premium content, or access to exclusive events and other resources.

  1. The benefits of a digital product based business (ie., online courses, newsletters) are well known. But the rise of the new personal web may increase the appetite and demand for more personalized services and consultations. This type of offering is not scalable, of course, but that’s exactly the point.

As interactions become more and more personal, look for businesses that offer personalized services or consultations, such as personalized digital marketing strategies or one-on-one coaching, to thrive. (This could also extend to creating AI-driven personal assistance or consulting services, or creating high-quality, niche content tailored for specific micro-communities.)

Bottom line: the future of the Internet may be far more person and 1 to 1 than any of us anticipate. Is your business thinking about that?


So where are we all supposed to go now? »»

TikTok Clones: How Spotify, Instagram, Twitter and more are copying features like the ‘For You’ page »»

Written by Jon Kallus. Any feedback? Simply reply. Like this? Share it!

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