Dreams are a funny thing rendered all the more surreal when they become true. When I was a high school student, back in 1998, I wanted to be Steve Jobs. The thing that made me want to emulate Steve Jobs was the bondi blue iMac, which was perched upon my desk. This was the first time I felt that technology could become art.
It was the first time it ever occurred to me that I could make something functional and glamorous, and get stinking rich in the process.
Eventually, I did enter the tech industry. While I have not become a billionaire, I must admit that all my material needs are met. What's more, I'm in the enviable position of being my own boss and doing whatever project I like on my time.
But I also admit something's been lost in the process, and that is my sense of wonder.
When I first got my bondi blue iMac, it filled me with joy. I loved its translucent colour, the bubble shape, the "it works" philosophy of design. It opened a door to a new world: Usenet, IRC, Geocities. Every new site was a fresh discovery. Sometimes the contents would be bizarre and odd, other times a new perspective previously not considered.
I'm not going to to say the Internet was perfect back then because we all know that wasn't the case. Yet the Internet, as it is today, doesn't fill me with wonder – and I can't say it's entirely because I'm old, bitter, and jaded. If that were true, I'd be bitter and jaded about everything.
New books, movies, and music? I'm still amazed at the fresh creativity out there. It's fantastic what cameras can do today. And I'm impressed with new innovations in the automotive industry.
Don't get me wrong, there's fresh new Internet innovations every day. But it's hard to feel excited when Facebook is getting rich off owning our personal data. Or when we can't operate a new TV without connecting it to the Internet. Or when a grandma believes John F. Kennedy will appear in Dallas because she saw a meme that made her go down a rabbit hole.
That's not the Internet that I dream about.
While I'm tempted to turn off all my devices and go frolick in a beautiful green meadow, that would be irresponsible. Like it or not, the Internet is now "real life," and everything that happens outside of the Internet is inevitably processed by the Internet.
So it's time to consider what will give me back that sense of wonder and joy about this thing that has given me a living. And that's to build a better Internet.
Is this an impossible dream? All dreams are impossible until they become real.