This probably doesn’t make sense to anyone who has first logged in to the Internet in, say, the last decade. There was a moment in time when not everybody was connected to the Internet 🙂 which might be strange to imagine nowadays. But there were alternative networks instead, set up by corporations, and some of those were even bigger than the Internet. The Internet was a strange phenomenon — strange to us, reading and writing in 2011 — because it was a counter-cultural movement in many aspects. Instead of centralisation, it used federation. Instead of control, it used reputation. Instead of forcing users to abdicate their rights as human beings, it forced corporations — if they wanted to interconnect using the Internet — to enforce a set of rules and principles, or face being disconnected.
The federated model of the Internet, however, had a big problem. It became far too successful. When all node operators knew themselves by name, it would be pretty easy to shut down anyone who was not complying with the Internet’s policies (and note that those were not the result of a bright mind, but a complex, democratic process of voting upon what kind of rules — technological and social — would be adopted by the Internet). These days, however, everybody is on the Internet, most importantly, governments and megacorps. And these have different agendas from the people who built the Internet from scratch.