Various regions have developed their own technology stacks, based on local rules and regulations and composed of leading platforms for search, socials, e-commerce and cloud computing. As such, the internet co-evolves with geopolitical shifts. Current dominant stacks are the US stack which takes a more market-based approach, the EU stack which applies a Rhineland model, the Chinese stack with a state-based approach and the decentralized stack which takes the open source p2p route. While this theme investigates the structure of each of these stacks individually, this theme especially focuses on the power dynamic between these stacks. One main question is to what extent the battle of stacks leads to a permanent divergence of stacks, or a dynamic equilibrium in which the stacks complement each other, or that process of convergence towards a single winning stack.
The battle of stacks is not only driven by expansion but also by maintaining sovereignty. As digitization becomes more ubiquitous, digital sovereignty is becoming synonymous to sovereignty. Nevertheless, ensuring digital sovereignty introduces completely different conditions and strategies.
We are moving from a bipolar world to a multipolar world, in which the US has to increasingly share the geopolitical stage with countries like China, Russia and India. This is also reflected by the way countries shape their digital stacks. Authoritarian countries are increasingly turning away from the original design principles of the internet, and introducing new standards that could provide these governments more top-down control.
At some point digital ecosystems will naturally expand as they seek more and more network effects. As such, this dynamic will naturally push stacks to suck up networks from competing stacks and are thereby destined to collide. This dynamics will be played at the data, intelligence and services layer.
To understand how the future of the internet and digitalization will look like, it will be increasingly important to consider the geopolitical dimension as each nation will compete for digital sovereignty and in some instances for digital hegemony.