In history, not many movements, wars or religions can be traced back to a single moment. When they can though, the events tend to be significant, loud and impactful.
A single rat stowing away on a silk trader’s cart from Asia led to the near decimation of the populations of Europe by the bubonic plague. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand led to the First World War. A misguided vote in the United Kingdom led to the dissolution of global industry and ushered in a century of global Neofascism and exclusion.
The list goes on, of course, and while many—if not most—of these events led directly to conflict, violence and death, what followed trended toward peace.
However, this is the story of a single, seemingly innocuous event. Not one that really could have been prevented, but certainly traceable. The butterfly before the hurricane, as it were, that ended an era, halting the maddening pace of technology so efficiently and indefinitely that its effects have yet to dwindle. Even years after.
The year, as it was recorded by most cultures then, was 2134 AD (the AD denoting the last such significant event). The Empires of Earth had just crawled out of a backwards and fearful century of inward-facing politics and ethnic exclusion.
In the early twenty-second century, a private corporation called Hemingway started an initiative that quickly rose to the level of fevered revolution, touting freedom of information and total inclusion. This was so drastically contrary to the suicidal thinking of the time, that the ideology caught like wild fire. Governments were either replaced or overrun globally and what replaced them, invested heavily both financially and ideologically into Hemingway’s gambit.
It really was fairly simple, they would design and manufacture nearly twelve thousand stationary satellites at around 500km altitude to surround the globe from North to South which would both receive and transmit data to each other and to the surface at blinding speeds, unheard of in the early decades of the original internet. This grid of satellites would form an all encompassing, simple to access and completely free repository of all human knowledge.
Even though the Hemingway branded Terminals that everyone would need to access this global network were not free, the idea behind them was so powerful that it became a status symbol to own one; even if you lived in squalor, having a Terminal showed you were a citizen of humanity. Through marketing and clever pricing, Hemingway made a killing in the stock markets, out performing any company in history, and became virtually too big to fail.
While the vast majority of Earth’s population were starstruck by Hemingway’s plan, there were of course opponents. The main political forces that had supported the old regimes were vocal, but of a very small minority. Unfortunately, as a consequence of propping up the former leadership of various nations, they were well funded, and immediately began making plans for legal (and extra-legal) disruption of the development and deployment of both Hemingway’s Net and Terminal systems.