Could the internet stand the test of time?

In a dreary corner in Leslie Carl’s living room sits a dusty desktop computer. To his wife, Charlotte, it’s a simple tool for neatly filing her notes, but to Leslie, its potential is endless. His nights and weekends are consumed by the warm glow of the monitor as he endlessly types enigmatic words and calculations.

Leslie isn’t an amateur cryptologist, nor is he inventing new ways to write “BOOBS” on a calculator. He’s an explorer of what may end up being Earth’s final frontier: the internet.

It’s a term you may have heard back in the 90s when US President Bill Clinton and then-Senator Al Gore began forwarding their idea for an information superhighway – and interconnected network of computers around your town, country, and, perhaps one day, world, sharing information freely.

An ambitious scheme, no doubt, but is it something the average person could get behind? Is it a fad today and forgotten tomorrow? These are the questions Leslie may very well answer with his pet project – something he calls a “website”.

It’s something you’re unlikely to be familiar with, so we’ll attempt to explain it to the best of our own understanding: a website is an abstract location within the internet that can be accessed from any computer and contains information in various formats. Leslie’s hope is that his website and other websites – assuming others are made – will make the internet easier for computer owners to comprehend and navigate.

It’s a bold plan, and not one without risks. The process of “building” a website is both costly and time-consuming, and to help ensure the project sees completion, Leslie has to quit his job, leaving Charlotte wholly responsible for keeping the lights on.

Even more zealous, the website is only the first step of Leslie’s pioneering dream. He believes that the internet may one day provide a niche alternative to mass media, where thoughtful commentary from only the most intellectual are voiced, free of vulgarity and sensationalism. And unlike many of today’s publications, images of scantily clad women won’t be the driver for readership.

But as with all ambitious plans, the potential dividends are sizeable. Leslie hopes that his website concept will appeal to forward-thinking consumers, who may even be willing to pay to access the contents of his website – something he believes is highly likely.

Still, for as radical as his plans may be, its success rests on the shoulders of the masses and how open-minded they are to exploring the virtual realm. Will it be logistically viable? How long will it take a person to drive from one website to another? Will nan be there?

These are questions that only time can answer.

First published on The Quarterly Daily.