Here is the full transcript of documentary filmmaker Alex Winter’s TEDx Talk: The Dark Net Isn’t What You Think. It’s Actually Key To Our Privacy at TEDxMidAtlantic conference.
So for most of my life I’ve been obsessed with the digital revolution. That may sound strange coming from an actor, director but actually I blame the Bill and Ted movies for my obsession with technology.
You see, one day in the late ‘80s, I woke up with my face on a cereal box. Yeah. When the first Bill and Ted opened, my life became permanently public. Grocery shopping had to be done in the middle of the night. Crowded subway was a no-go zone. And a teenage fan ran away from home, crossed the country by bus, and parked herself at my front door. Thankfully I was out of town.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was very grateful for the success of those movies. But like many young people thrust into the spotlight, I was unprepared for a life that suddenly lacked any degree of privacy and anonymity. And that’s when I discovered the Internet.
Specifically, the anonymous online communities that existed in the crude early days of the net before the existence of the modern web that we know today. Believe it or not here were thousands of people around the world, meeting in online news groups and chat rooms to discuss a wide range of interests and connect with each other. Many of us using anonymous usernames and even encrypted email. There had never been anything like this, and it blew my mind. I may have come to the anonymous internet for privacy but I stayed for the community — a vibrant network where I could say what I wanted and be myself. It was a very liberating experience, whether or not your face was on a cereal box.