The one recurring theme throughout the module has been the focus on empowering individuals. The network is now changing from centralized, with control from a central node and instead shifting into a decentralized network, where users voices are heard and valued as equals. There is a greater focus on the collective, developing an online persona that is separate from their real life persona,s and creating a barrier of privacy. Online chat forums such as Reddit and 4Chan are examples of online cities, where people communicate, discuss relevant issues and work together to achieve goals. The developing technologies also breaks systems, as Bitcoin changes how monetary transactions work and how people view money. There is also the matter of intellectual property, and the ownership of online content, and how groups of online people can iterate and create when given permission and content is created in a way where user engagement is actively encouraged. The networks that are currently being created in the online world are creating voices and changing systems and will continue to do so in the future.

The networks that are being created online have a focus on creating an online persona, empowering that persona to share information and contribute to a group, and to also stand up for what they believe in. The online world is organized into groups of people, where people can fell like they a collective voice and make real change. Meme warfare has been used by both sides, as well as fake accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter, to sway public perception on current politician, public and significant events, such as the 2016 US election. Major social media platforms, such as Reddit and 4chan were used by Trump supporters to spread meta-politics. Meta-politics are defined as “spreading certain themes and ideas among the general public by focusing on the cultural and ideological issues rather than on actual politics” (Dafaure, 2020). Memes allowed for his message to spread in a simple, easy to understand way, and could move rapidly from platform to platform, as supporters were able to use the internet to spread their message and influence the outcome of the election. Some memes that became popular included the rapefugees, which “creates an association between refugees (believed to be almost exclusively Muslim) and sexual violence, became widely used online from 2016 on, when the European Refugee crisis began to unfold” (Dafaure, 2020). The meme itself was a subversion of a pro-refugee slogan: Refugees are Welcome, and instead was turned into Rapefugees Not Welcome: Stay Away. The Meme War of the 2016 election was determined to be hugely influential in the outcome, with Trump elected President, highlighting the impact that groups of people in an online community can have on real world decisions, with memes being a major driving factor behind the spreading of ideas that led Trump to victory in the Election. Considering how the online world is becoming larger and larger, and the tensions between people who sit politically on the left and right, the amount of influence that groups of like-minded people over politics through the sharing of memes will become more influential in the real world, potentially impacting the passing of certain laws, political scandals, and other issues for debate.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has changed the way people view and value money in the modern day environment. While most monetary transactions are done with the use of credit and/or debit cards, paper money is still used to pay employee’s and paying for goods and services. Money is controlled often by big banks, such as Greater Bank and NAB in Australia, but Bitcoin changed the entire system of money and who controls the money. Bitcoin is “the first ever decentralized global digital currency… entirely computerized and doesn’t have a physical form” (Bitcoin for Beginners, 2021). The “price is determined by the free market… an open-source project, many developers had contributed and continue to develop the code of Bitcoin on a daily basis” (Bitcoin for Beginners, 2021). The value of one Bitcoin is around 81,000 Australian dollars. All transactions are done over the internet, where the addresses of Bitcoin are spread across, encased in a coin, which itself is based around encrypted technology itself, known as blockchains. The bitcoin blockchain “derives its strength from the nodes which are scattered throughout the world. Anyone can create a node and help preserve the blockchain… no single entity, be it a bank, a company, or a government, can co-opt the network” (Bitcoin for Beginners, 2021). Bitcoin therefore is not controlled by a singular authority, but instead a mass grouping of people, where status such as wealth, social standings and information are rendered meaningless to the creation and upstanding of bitcoin and it’s preservation. Such as shift in monetary systems, where paper money and big banks controlled transactions for food, general goods and services, has shifted to online forms of payment, with no overarching authority to regulate it, has changed the way the government and businesses have approached it. Steam, a major publisher and store for PC games have recently banned games that include cryptocurrency exchanges. The Microsoft store doesn’t allow for Cryptocurrency for payment on the products, the same for Nintendo and PlayStation. On the other side, Epic Games store are open to blockchain payments. How Microsoft, PlayStation and Nintendo approach payment methods from a large majority of its user-base will depend on how games are bought. If people prefer to bug games online, cryptocurrency may be favored, but if people prefer to buy games over the counter, paper money and credit cards may be the method the bigger companies focus on.

The networks that are being developed now and in the future have a considerable impact on many aspects of the modern world. Political groups on platforms such as Reddit and 4Chan use memes as a way of spreading their ideologies and concepts to all places in the internet, as information can be easily spread and anyone can make content. Bitcoin highlights how future networks and developing technology can change the nature of money, ownership and the economy, by storing information on the internet and allowing for modifications made to the blockchain. The gaming industry is split when it comes to cryptocurrency, as some companies allow for transactions, whereas others do not. Other industries also include accepting and rejecting the cryptocurrency model of payment, but as bitcoin continues to grow or deplete in value, it is growing in popularity and in the mainstream. These two examples highlight a trend of influence in the mainstream and traditional media in the emerging future networks, where status and wealth do not influence the ability to control and share information, their views and work for change. individuals control their own money, and can change systems like the economy and how it interacts with society. How the internet and other future networks interact and change modern society, will be intriguing to watch, as the internet grows and more people use it each day.

References: Dafaure, Maxime 2020, ‘The “Great Meme War: the Alt-Right and its multifarious enemies’, Creating the Enemy, viewed 23 of October, 2021, https://journals.openedition.org/angles/369.

Bitcoin for Beginners, CryptoPotato, 2021, viewed 23 October 2021, https://cryptopotato.com/bitcoin-for-beginners/.