How to Internet

What do you really want out of the internet? What does it mean to you? Jenny Odell takes us through a history of the web in this wild earnest ride. She explores what the promis was and what we’ve lost and maybe what’s left to be found.

It still seems like all anyone has ever wanted from the internet was the same thing they’ve wanted all along: a connection to other people. Crucially, “people” here means actual people, acting and expressing themselves according to their own volition — not an actor, not Lonelygirl15, not a spokesperson, not an aspiring internet celebrity. What I’m trying to describe is some kind of ur-human urge, outside of follower count or personal branding, to throw a “hello” out into the void and maybe hear one back. This is the promise of the internet that I remember as a ‘90s kid sitting in my parents’ computer room, peering into the portal that led to unexpected encounters with other people (“regular people like you and me”). It’s harder to find randomness or surprise online these days — but not impossible.





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