Yesterday was my first day as a Berkman Fellow. The day was full of excited, passionate conversation about all the things we care about, finding potential points of intersection and collaboration, and making fast friends. But throughout my conversations yesterday, I sensed some underlying anxiety, some tension. We are all coming together because we love the internet, and we love what it enables in our society. But the internet as we know it is changing.
All of the sudden, we can no longer take for granted everything we thought we knew about the internet. The fundamental trust mechanisms that helped the internet run have been called into question. What can we possibly do to fix this? How can we repair and rebuild trust? News that blows apart what we thought encryption promised to protect could be met with cyncicism, or even defeatism. But I didn’t sense that from my fellow fellows.
As much as I feel anxious, I also feel hopeful. It’s the right time to be at Berkman, surrounded by people who care so passionately about the internet and all that it enables. Maybe there’s never been a better time to be here.
We’re all a little anxious and hopeful. That’s what we share in common as fellows. We are worried because we care. We want to work to guide things in the right direction. Our anxiety activates our hope. The internet as we know it is changing, but we’ll figure it out together.