From the editor: ON_Discourse co-founder Toby Daniels opens our next Living Issue with a reflection on the state of discourse about the next internet. We all know it’s coming. We all know AI is going to be one of many major parts of it. What we can’t know yet is if this change is a threat or an opportunity. This Living Issue is a real-time exploration of this very question.

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I love the internet. I love how it works and what it can do. The social-algorithmic version of the web has been the canvas for my entrepreneurial career; I’ve launched and sold successful businesses off the ad-based economic model, where viral reach drove advertiser value. It’s a flawed system, but it makes sense (and money). Nevertheless, after a full year of engaging our members in facilitated discourse on this and many other topics, I am sensing a change in sentiment. A storm is coming.

The internet as we know it is mutating. The superstructure of networked sites bonded together by search indexes is coalescing into a singular, personalized feed. Search queries are being replaced by prompts, and search results are turning into direct information. The web has always been perceived as an interconnected network of websites; each of those sites represents an entrepreneur’s vision for a viable business. A chance for a good brand to find a loyal audience of buyers. That web is a galaxy of planets and stars, and Google is warp drive. The new internet, on the other hand, threatens to turn Google into the Borg. Resistance is futile.

“Chase not just the storm, but the thrill of embracing nature’s untamed power and finding the fearless stillness within its chaos.” – Random AI Chatbot

Are you a seeker, a forecaster or looking for shelter?

Toby Daniels

Toby Daniels

Founder, ON_Discourse, former Chief Innovation Officer, Adweek, Founder and Chair, Social Media Week

A perpetual cycle of innovation is rapidly making the internet unrecognizable. How should business leaders navigate this ongoing transition? We are launching this issue to unpack all of the risks, opportunities, and requirements that are emerging from this chaos. Our project begins at the very beginning, asking fundamental questions with no clear answers (yet).

We will address three key pillars of this phase, focusing always on the changes that really will be happening by the year 2025:

Don’t get too philosophical about the new internet – it’s time to move

Why this matters: A combination of technological, cultural, and economic forces are coalescing into a generational economic disruption. Generative AI, blockchain, and Spatial computing are emerging and converging into new modes of work, consumption, and authentication. The next internet will not operate like the present-day one. And the change is coming much sooner than it seems.

This is not a philosophical discussion; if you are operating a business on the internet today, you have to be making investments in future-proofed technology and services right now. The internet in 2025 will already start to begin showing signs of the incoming change. The companies that act now will be in a better position to capitalize on this moment.

Nobody can beat the platforms, so… give up?

Why this matters: Which industries, brands, consumer behaviors, expectations, and roles are vulnerable to the destructive forces of this storm. Is the recent demise of major digital media brands a harbinger of doom? Is Vice.com the canary in the coal mine for other business verticals?

In recent weeks, we’ve held events that explore the various moats that vulnerable industries can lean into to shore up their defenses against this storm. The value of proprietary data, no matter how small, can help a business withstand the weight of the major platforms. The value of a strong brand, existing customer base, and point of view. All of these elements can help, but on their own, is this enough?

There is always an opportunity on the internet.

Why this matters: In this great storm analogy, we want to serve the storm chasers. These are the entrepreneurs who are seeking out the whitespaces that emerge out of economic disruption. New industries, roles, requirements, and behaviors will drive a lot of market value in the new Internet.

We have already covered the release of the Apple Vision Pro with a wide-eyed perspective on the potential of spatial video. The spatial app store has only recently reached 1000 apps which means there is a tremendous opportunity to mark territory in a field that will only grow. Our exploration will identify the industries that have been waiting to leverage the combination of generative AI with blockchain authentication to unlock new value.

We do not look at this incoming storm with fear, but with wide-eyed curiosity, and we are preparing to facilitate a wide range of discussions and explorations that will help you prepare for the new internet. Follow and subscribe for updates, get in touch with us if you have a perspective to share, join the community and become a member if you want to participate in the discourse, attend an event and connect to our network of leading experts in tech, business and innovation.