The old, good internet deserves a new, good internet

Cory Doctorow
5 min readAug 13


A trio of public toilet stalls, each fitted with a pay toilet coin-op lock. The middle lock’s mechanism has been replaced with the menacing, staring red eye of HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ The space around and beneath the stalls is filled with a ‘Code Rain’ effect from the credit sequences of the Wachowksis’ ‘The Matrix.’
Cryteria/CC BY 3.0 (modified)

I’m kickstarting the audiobook for “The Internet Con: How To Seize the Means of Computation,” a Big Tech disassembly manual to disenshittify the web and make a new, good internet that picks up where the old, good internet left off. It’s a DRM-free book, which means Audible won’t carry it, so this crowdfunder is essential. Back now to get the audio, Verso hardcover and ebook:


The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. -Socrates

Nostalgia is a toxic impulse. -Judge John Hodgman

I’m an official Old Person (I turned 52 last month). According to the AARP, that means that I am now officially entitled to complain that back in my day, things used to be better.

I am suspicious of this impulse! When I started dialing BBSes in the early 1980s, the Old Hands there told me that it was all downhill after acoustic couplers and that modems were degrading the noosphere into a fallen paradise.

When I got on Usenet a couple years later, every disagreement would feature some Unix Greybeard telling us that the Fidonet gateway had opened the floodgates for dumbass kids like me who were stinking up the joint and adding nothing of value.

By the time I joined The WELL in the late 1980s, it was too late: the rarified Athenian agora had been overrun by barbarians and the Age of Reason was over.

Then there was the Eternal September, the moral degeneracy of menuing systems and the wicked temptations of a GUI.

I even got in on the act, explaining “Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either).”

Here’s the thing: all those other Cranky Olds complaining that we were on a greased slide to Hell were wrong.

I was right.



Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr