Is it over yet?
The internet as we know it (or want it), is probably on the way out.
It might be a good thing.
I didn't realise I missed the early 90's internet until recently. All those GeoCities and personal web pages, wow they were ugly :) but at the same time, exciting and full of passion.
Back then it was "ours", it felt like something we were building for ourselves. The idea that we'd create this, big, open, wild and carefree place that anyone could join and would allow for all sorts of freedom and expression.
Somehow that got lost along the way.
Those eager small startups became huge giants, that ended up doing everything they were supposed to be against.
Money of course, and power and influence, those things always turn up to ruin everything.
So what next? Well things like Gemini are cool, and there's a healthy community of Foss and alt-tech, but that can still all be taken over. Where will things end up when it becomes "online everything, everywhere, every second of every day." What will that mean for privacy?
For me, it's a great opportunity. I've started buying physical things again, books, CD's, DVD's. I bought a film camera (OK a Polaroid but its good enough) and started printing actual photos again.
I sometimes get troubled when older family members show me their old music and photo collections. All I've got is stuff on a phone or a hard drive somewhere, all of which could disappear if someone decides to kill off some service or other.
It's great having 4000 albums stored in some music app, until you realise you could lose them all in an instant.
We've lost a lot. Physical shops keep closing down as more and more goes online. Sure, its easier and maybe cheaper, but there is something comforting, even relaxing, about browsing through things in a store. Being able to touch and see and pick things up. Sometimes you might even talk to people.
Libraries. I used to love digging around in libraries, discovering old books like some hidden knowledge, the actual smell of old paper, the dusty covers and the weird joy of seeing that no one else has loaned it out for 20 years before you. Now, most of the ones near me have gone.
There are of course a lot of great things about the modern internet. However, maybe we needed to put the brakes on somewhere.
As with most things in life, I think this one too is about perspective.
Sure, physical shops are becoming scarce and slowly replaced with digital alternatives due to the reasons already mentioned, they are cheaper, easily accessible and probably more environmental friendly.
Yet, I don't think they would die out completely. They still fulfill a purpose and offer a service for which there is still a market, as people like you (and me too to a certain extent) would still find pleasure in frequenting an actual, physical place to skim through the records and talk to people. It has become a luxury in modern times, not a necessity due to lack of alternatives. It all comes down to demand and supply in the end.
Same with the internet of the early days. The spirit isn't gone, pages like this one here are proof of a still existing demand for simple, reponsive java script free environments for anonymous discussion.Yet, it has also become accessible to those who are less tech-savvy, a finger tip away. I don't mind places like Discord, Instagram and alike being around, I just don't like to participate in those environments and would rather choose an imageboard, a Matrix server etc.
We haven't lost anything but live in wonderful times in which the internet and everything else is becoming richer, more diverse and colorful and there's a niche for each everyone.
All the spirit of the old 90s internet is still here! You just have to look a little harder to find it. I used to muse that in the early 90s only nerdier types were online or doing things with computers, then in the 2000s it all became very mainstream, then by the late 2010s it was a nerdier activity again (because the overwhelming majority of users just access a few social media services via smartphones.) Getting into anti-corporate and underground things (like the fediverse, or even here) is super nostalgic and definitely makes me feel like I'm engaging in something hidden, something nice, something profoundly nerdy again.
In addition, there are mechanisms that keep things like the Fediverse from being taken over by corporate entities who would have it all well-lit, sterilized and centralized. The way a lot of free software is licensed is designed to keep this from happening.
Totally agree, that's how I feel as well :)
And things like matrix and decentralized stuff are great.
Matrix is great and I whole-heartedly recommend it in lieu of surveillance engines like Discord.
It was over for me until pandemic hit and I found reason to go online.
I feel kinda dumb for ragging on social media for twenty years and then suddenly desperately hopping on them (not the worst of the megacorps but I went on IRC, Fedi, and CAPCOM/Spacewalk. And here of course) because I couldn't do normal stuff like go to shows, hang out with people or go outside.
True, when you're forced inside then options seem limited.
However, that's what made me do other things, like get into photography, pick up guitar again and mess about with the things you mentioned :)