Make the Web Great Again
The Portal
UFO
Per-Bast
Make WWW Great Again
Mount Paozu
DOS/Win9x Game Shrines
Town of ZZT
Observatory
The Quarry
Library of Babel
Red Forest
Haunted House
Macula's Maze
Reptile House
Wildcat Den
The Scratching Post
Dock
The PortalUFOPer-BastMake WWW Great AgainMount PaozuDOS/Win9x Game ShrinesTown of ZZTThe ObservatoryThe QuarryLibrary of BabelRed ForestHaunted HouseMacula's MazeReptile HouseWildcat DenThe Scratching PostThe Dock

Make the Web Great Again

"It's understandable that many people feel afraid and unsure if the web is really a force for good. But given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can't be changed for the better in the next 30. If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web."

- Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web


Introduction

Many of us are blessed with being old enough to remember the Web as it was back in the 90s and 2000s. Back when powering on the computer felt a tad like activating an arcane, whimsical artefact left behind by some enigmatic wizard from a bygone era. A sort of spellbook that could transport anyone who wields it to a seemingly endless number of wonderful lands. Surfing the Web back in those days felt like going on a genuine adventure. Internet Explorer and Netscape were quite fitting names for the browsers that reigned in those days.

Fast forward to today, or really any point after ~2007-2010, and the Web has become utterly unrecogniseable. The endless prairies and jungles of cyberspace have been paved over in favour of online corporate strip malls, the search engines that granted knowledge now censor it, the creative and unique personal websites of old have been replaced by generic templated personal branding sites, and people from peasants to presidents have found their speech being muzzled by the Web's new unelected and unaccountable overlords.

With the sordid state of things, is there any hope of restoring the wonder and the magic of the Web that once was?

There might be, but before we can ponder a solution to the problem, we must first understand its causes. What is fundamentally missing from the modern Web, that is causing these maladies with its absence?


Tenants of the Old Web

In my view, there were five main unspoken principles that served as the foundation of the great old Web: Anonymity, Decentralisation, Technical Literacy, Non-Commercialisation (major caveats on this one), and perhaps most importantly Freedom of Speech.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The single most important thing any of us can do to combat the blight of the nu-Web is to boycott big technology companies and platforms (Google, Facebook, Discord, etc) to the fullest extent possible. The power and influence that they wield over the Web comes solely from the amount of people that use their services, and even the mightiest of these companies will vanish like a fart in the Sahara if enough people walk away from them and embrace the old free Web. Please see my It's Past Time to Completely Boycott All Big Technology Companies article and the forthcoming sequel that will focus on alternatives to big technology websites and platforms for more information on this subject.

In spite of the sorry state of the modern Web, there are still numerous beacons of hope outside of the walled gardens of big technology companies even now. Neocities, of course, provides a home for hundreds of thousands of netizens to set up homesteads like the ones that dotted the Web in the distant past. Equally worthy of mention is the censorship-free social media platform Gab, which I also had an account on. Although I loathe social media as a whole, Gab's stalwart fight to preserve freedom of speech on the Internet against all odds, and its exceptionally welcoming and kind community, have made it an exception in my book.

Beyond these two platforms, there is still a vast sea of independent Web 1.0 sites scattered all over the Web. I have catalogued over 100 such sites over at the Dock and am steadily adding more to the list as I find them. More pertinently, Wiby is a special hand-curated search engine that serves as the de facto portal to the Web 1.0 side of the Web. While it returns far less results than most other search engines, the results it does return are undeniably of higher quality since by its very nature, Wiby is utterly unaffected by algorithm-manipulating nonsense. Also of interest is Curlie, the "sequel" to DMOZ and a vast directory of Web 1.0 sites from all over.

Although they harbour little to no activity anymore and are a pain to find websites on, Angelfire and Tripod are still miraculously chugging along even now. I do not know of any way to actually navigate around them aside from using search engines or looking around in Curlie, however.

Aside from walking away from the plantation of big technology in favour of these greener pastures, I urge everyone reading this to spread the word. Not necessarily about this website (although that would be appreciated!), but about the movement for restoring the old Web and abolishing the tyranny of big technology itself. Many people are not only blissfully misinformed about just how bad these companies are, or even that there is a whole free Web outside of their reach. Maybe even consider starting your own website if you have not already, even if you may not yet think that you have much to say.

Every single person who boycotts the technology oligarchs and embraces the free Web is making a difference, and even utterly miniscule snowflakes can become a devastating avalanche if enough of them gather.

As much as I would like to be able to press a button and magically undo the normiefication of the Web, that is not a box that will ever be closed. The only option then, is to inspire and convert as many of them possible towards embracing the spirit of the old ways.

This website is my avenue of spreading the word about many topics - notably Bast and autism acceptance - but it is also my way of demonstrating what is possible with the Web. My way of showing that a person's presence on the Web does not have to be limited to some stale, insipid social media page or blog. It can be anything and everything that you can dream up.


Further Reading (Library of Babel)



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