The freedoms of the Internet are being seriously eroded right now. Totalitarian states are doing everything they can to restrict the opportunities for dissenting voices to be heard. North Korea allows access to only 28 websites. But more democratic nations have also begun to tire of the tone, for instance, on social media. Germany is threatening to drag Facebook before the courts if it fails to get a grip on cyber bullying.

Even the online titans themselves, including Google and Facebook, have now begun taking action to suppress fake news and “alternative facts”.

There is also a question of how long politicians can allow the enormous gathering of data at an individual level (Big Data), which on the one hand facilitates creative business and smart marketing, but which also raises major issues with regard to personal privacy and political indoctrination.

Another cloud in the once clear Internet sky is the rise in cyber crime, which is prompting a keen interest in various types of restrictions and greater controls.

We may well look back on the period 1995–2015 as the Internet’s Wild West, where freedom-loving information cowboys explored new territories and created new business models and innovations.

The question is what the future will look like. If the World Wide Web becomes a controlled and regulated arena that is generally hard to navigate, this could encourage an interest in local variations instead. A regional Internet, a city Internet or a network-based Internet built around clusters of collaborating organizations.

Or perhaps we’ll see a return to good old technologies that weren’t encumbered by the problems outlined above? IRL? The telephone? Physical meetings?

We’ll be following developments with interest.



This article is a trendspotting piece from guest writer Kjell Lindström – author and lecturer on SSE Executive Education’s Executive Leadership Program and Executive Management Program. Kjell has a passion for HR and organizational theory. And for trendspotting. 

Kjell Lindström has a background as a lecturer and researcher at Uppsala University. He is editor of the trendspotting newsletter “noden trender” and is the author of books such as “Bortom tankefällan” (2013), “Äkta organisation”(2014) and “Den nakna ledningsgruppen” (2016).

In 2013, Kjell was awarded the Magnus Söderström Prize by Linnaeus University and the Union for Professionals for his contribution to Swedish HR.