Consumption: The Future of Customized Internet

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There are now countless Apps that acquire information about their users to customize Ads or push content, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

While the goals of the Internet have undergone some controversial shifts in recent years, providing global access to information is still one of the most crucial. Since its establishment, internet companies have initiated searches for optimizing matches between search engines and results, but there is another direction in which Internet information gathering can be optimized. In response to the tendency of information fragmentation, an Internet plug-in program named “Customized Internet” that would customize a most readable information display interface on an individual basis was proposed by an internet company.

As a child, you may have heard your parents say that you are an “auditory” or a “visual” learner. On the Internet, this is a little more complicated, as we use different formats to present information and engage users. For example, web pages now typically display information in the form of text, occasionally interspersed with images and videos (think about Wikipedia). Customized Internet simply means that information/search result is presented to a specific audience in a specific format accordingly by analyzing the user’s preference from data of other Apps/websites. For example, if you are a visual learner like me, when you search electron, in addition to its definition in text form, the customized web page will also display its 3D animated images in a floating window, and the proportion of presentation in the image form will increase. The overall concept map can be referred to as a customized version of the poster with various elements (see Figure 1). In the future development of virtual screens or immersive vision, we can effectively combine sound effects to achieve a better display with the development of virtual screens.

Customized Internet also contains particular context options that allow users to choose the style of results. For example, if the user searches for “physics”, then the default will display the search that matches the highest probability, namely, the subject “physics”. If you prefer videos, then maybe there will be a few videos embedded about “what is physics?” and some formulas. But if you choose the “relax” category, then Customized Internet will show content with a bias towards forums, memes, and short videos. These specific features will be detachable and allow users to compile themselves. For instance, if a media worker wants to analyze hot terms on a news site, he will be able to define his Customized Internet’s analytics model to get analytics results such as a pie chart. The functionality of Customized Internet is embedded in the web page compared to existing analysis tools, which makes it more convenient, fast, and shareable.

In short, Customized Internet attempts to further target users’ searches by presenting information in a more fragmented format to save users’ reading costs and enhance their online experience. It does not involve any identity identification component and does not produce any in-group paradigms. The product has a huge consumer audience. Although it is intended for anyone who has a heavy need for information gathering, it can help every Internet user, especially those who are not satisfied with the current display of search results. As producers, Internet companies themselves also have huge demands and they will also buy the product. Customized Internet does not abandon any user, but rather, it is meant to make internet surfing more enjoyable for everyone. If this feature is implemented, then everyone will have access to information in the most readable form.

The expected cost of the program mainly comes from its model development phase. The cost and time to build this self-learning neural network model are hard to predict due to the complexity of its input data. As the technology matures, the model will be able to learn and analyze itself, furthering its analysis and display feature. Yet there is no doubt that more powerful analysis models and new algorithms need to be introduced in order to achieve such functionality. The project will be directly invested by the government when it has a prototype and initial results. It is anticipated that the functionality will be available to the general public at a very low cost, and it will be charged on a monthly basis. If the test model works well, it is possible that Customized Internet will be available to the general public for free, supported by the government. A new file format is expected to be created for direct storage of elements containing images, videos, audio, web pages, etc. In the foreseeable future, the new format will improve the latitude of expression of some interactive web pages/software and contribute to Virtual Reality technology (VR) as it requires the inclusion of various data forms.

It is true that it is still just a proposal in the vision, as our current analysis and computing power cannot reach such a fine degree. But in addition to the technical line limitations, some concerns can be imagined. One very direct regulation-level concern is the issue of data collection. Unlike most Apps, Customized Internet requires data collected by almost all apps, as its analytics model will be designed to measure detailed information such as the time the mouse hovers over a specific area.  This will pose a potential risk to information security, raising the problem of general acceptability. Due to immature technical backups, data leakage cases abound for Internet companies. It not only violates users’ privacy and infringes on people’s safety but also generates a negative impact on reputation. To eliminate doubts in this regard, this program will be developed by internet companies in cooperation with the government, with the authority to ensure the privacy of data. When testing is finished, all private data involved will be fully handed over to models to analyze and learn on their own, in order to further ensure the privacy of data. Under the government’s control, vicious competition and monopolies among internet companies will also be restrained. However, at the root, personalized services and pushing do require collecting users’ data. The functionality will be provided, but users can refuse to provide private information and continue using the previous Internet interface. The controversy over privacy and customized services has always been there, and the choice is left to the users themselves.

Another concern is about inappropriate content, including but not limited to sex and violence. This setting is still intended to refer to existing policies. When the search results may contain sensitive content, the page will set an age limit and ask the user if they want to continue browsing. If the user meets the age and agrees, the search results will still be displayed based on their preferences through the model. Further discussion is needed about the display of sensitive content.

There is also a deeper problem that we lack enough credible resources as the credibility of online sources is often doubted, so Customized Internet will give rise to a systematic reorganization and reclassification of the Internet. One solution I propose is to create a classification system through the historical reputation of publishers, so that posted content is automatically measured for trustworthiness and value, and then crawled by Customized Internet to display on interfaces. Of course, this problem comes from a larger framework, and I believe there will be a better solution.

We are in a tumultuous time where technology is innovating almost every day. If successful, Customized Internet will help us in every aspect of our Internet world, and it signifies the ultimate realization of customization in the realm of the Internet. In 1984, the first Macintosh computer had a smiley face symbol flashing on its boot screen, which today flashes on the face recognition page of iPhones which have nothing else similar. Despite the changing forms, the original intent of the Internet to lower the barrier of data access has never changed. I sincerely look forward to the day when this smiley face will be on every user of Customized Internet.

Figure 1: “Virtual-Screen-Hologram-Technology-Picture-ID685135952 (1).” 2022. Integrity. Accessed September 9.

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