The Web We Lost

February 17, 2019 by Matt in /Home/Reflections with No Comments

For some time now I've been thinking about the The Web We Lost. I'm certainly not the first person to be commenting on this epoch: Anil Dash has some very cogent points on the matter as have others. The lost web doesn't only refer to the infrastructure or systems that enabled "open computing" (the idea that anyone could exercise the power of content creation or effect control over their own systems and data), but also the missing building blocks that should have been but weren't.

Instead of walled off corporate gardens like Facebook, Google, Twitter or any of the other behemoths that offer little but take much, wikis are probably some of the best examples of how the Internet should have been. Technologies like Gopher, though not entirely dead, were left in the dust in our pursuit of flash, convenience and the almighty dollar. Somewhere along the way we lost the ability to exert our will over the technology we use and sadly, our lack of interest and attention have resulted people using Facebook as a news source of all things. Read this interview with Noam Chomsky if you want to understand just how influential a "news source" can be.

The blame for the current state of the web can perhaps be laid at the feet of high school educators. I know this sounds absurd at first, so you'll have to bear with me for a minute while I explain. The high school years are crucial for young people who are beginning to develop a "world view" that moves beyond being merely passive actors on the global stage. With electronic technology the ever pervasive medium for facilitating communication, forming communities and consuming news, it is more important than ever that young people be taught how to navigate such technology and understand the consequences involved. How much more difficult would it be for tyrants, governments and CEOs to effect their plans if citizens were more enlightened and aware of how technology can be used against them, and how they can empower change by being in control of their technology. Sadly, few courses are available for young people during these formative years and even fewer are the educators who really understand what is at stake.

All is not lost, though. The first steps to asserting your control over the web can be taken by learning how to self-publish.

How does one self-publish?

You can send email. For anything more complicated than "please pick up some eggs", it's still the best way to communicate one-on-one or one-to-many.

You can create free, fast web pages through txti.es. A txti page uses Markdown to format the page. It's not difficult to use.

You can start a wiki with some free software like TiddlyWiki or WikidPad.

You can start a blog with Micro.blog or any of the other free blogging platforms.

The next steps might be Beyond the Web.


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