The Future of Blogging: Stranger than Science Fiction?


By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m currently writing a somewhat sarcastic sci-fi novel about bloggers in the future. It thrills me and makes my spine tingle.

The story is about the influence bloggers exert over their society, and the dangers that come with it. It also shows a power shift: when bloggers become one-(wo)man-media empires who can shape the opinions of masses, how long will it take until they clash with the government or corporate interests?

It seems like an outlandish premise, and most of the people I talked to seemed to agree.

When I told the story to a friend of mine, she cracked up and claimed it was over-the-top. She said bloggers would never gain that much power and would never find themselves in the crosshairs of the government or other powerful institutions.

Mr. Putin and the blogger crack-down

Unfortunately, the future may be bleaker than this sci-fi story. I recently met with a Russian blogger friend of mine who’s been living in my hometown of Berlin for most of his life. He’s considering going back to his motherland, but Putin’s recent moves against the web scare him to his geeky core.

Putin claims the Internet is a CIA project created by America to control the world. He’s also introduced a law that requires every Russian blogger with more than 3,000 daily visitors to register with the government, enabling authorities to shut it down in case of a “misunderstanding.”

The government’s reasoning? To ensure the “correctness” of the posted information. Obviously, you don’t have to be a detective to decipher these clues: this “blogger law” is blatant censorship, forcing every blogger with power to play by Putin’s rules or risk being shut down. I have to admit, this prospect is almost scarier than my sci-fi premise.

So what?

Now, you and I could say, “So what? It’s Russia, we’re living a fabulous, free life in the western world.” No worries, right? Well, with net neutrality in the States saying its goodbyes, Internet freedom doesn’t look much better in the West, either.

(In case you don’t know – net neutrality means internet service providers must treat all online content the same, without favoring or blocking particular websites or applications)

The internet providers in power can throttle and boost online speeds to sites at will, meaning your site loading speed can be slower or faster depending on how much you pay the provider. Blackmail, anyone?
Netflix, for example, has experienced low internet speeds and has had to pay Comcast to stop the traffic jam. Once the payment had been made, speeds to the Netflix website increased by a whopping 65%.

Granted, Netflix is a corporation and not a single, influential blogger, but once the floodgates are open for corporations to favorite sites–or worse, block them entirely–what will prevent a corporation or government from going after you?

In a future where more and more careers depend on the web,  a site shutdown could destroy one’s financial destiny. It would certainly destroy mine.

I’m finishing up my sci-fi blogger novel and working with an editor as we speak. In the end, one blogger pays with his life for his influence, while the others learn life lessons that will haunt them for the rest of their (digital) lives. Sure, it’s fiction and exaggerated in that regard, but pondering the examples I mentioned above shows we’re not that far from a dystopian online future.

What about you? Do you fear the web’s freewheeling days are over? Or is this my wild imagination creating a paranoid vision for the future of blogging?

Mars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at Original illustration by the author.

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