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The Internet of creation disappeared. Now we have surveillance and control (cccb.org)
464 points by kimburgess on Oct 21, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

I skimmed the comments here. Then I skimmed the article.

Getting out there and developing the sites/apps you want to see will bring change. Be proactive. Be the change you want to see.

The article is about a lawyer arguing for 'justice' through highly politicized language. YMMV, but I don't think "The Internet of creation" was hindered for want of lawyers, lobbyists or regulations.

Similarly, sitting on the sidelines and impotently lamenting the state of the Internet today doesn't help. While this isn't detrimental in the direct sense, it is detrimental if the prevailing belief is that changing the current paradigm is impossible.

Creators are still active. New niches for content are still emerging. Entrenched sites/apps are not immortal. Nothing is impossible. It all starts with individual action, one developer at a time. Don't become hypnotized by the bigness of institutions. We've seen solo developers release sea changing software before. Be the change you want to see.

> Getting out there and developing the sites/apps you want to see will bring change. Be proactive. Be the change you want to see.

I now have my own stupid blog again[0] trying to add some good old fun and weirdness to the web along with some hopefully useful or thought-provoking posts in between.

I wish we could have a thread (possibly even a monthly thread here, like who is hiring) where people could mention their blogs, web sites etc.

Back when Google+ arrived we did that and I followed a number of interesting people from HN based on that I think.

Maybe it could help us rebuild a mini web of interesting blogs, websites etc.

Me, I'd be particularly interested in linking to pages related to electronics, programming, outdoors (but not slick "travel" blogs) etc. A little politics OK, but not much.

[0]: link in profile should anyone be interested.

I've recently recreated my personal site and blogs[0] using a custom-tailored static site generator[1]. It felt good, like in the era of the Internet of creation.

[0]: http://danieljanus.pl [1]: https://github.com/nathell/nhp

I've hosted my own website[0] and blog[1] for a while, but objectively, publishing a single article to medium - which i usually loathe - drastically increased my visibility.

Using DDG to search for my name, my website shows up as 3rd result, whereas on Google, the only reason I'm even on the first page is because I was published on Towards Data Science. So using one of the big players was the only realistic way to get some exposure for my tech-rants. It's a sad reality for me.

[0]: https://chollinger.com/ [1]: https://chollinger.com/blog/

I created a new personal blog site too! The Bloomer's Guide to the Multiverse:


> I wish we could have a thread (possibly even a monthly thread here, like who is hiring) where people could mention their blogs, web sites etc.

I dig the sentiment. Isn’t that what Show HN and posting links to blog posts does though?

> I dig the sentiment. Isn’t that what Show HN and posting links to blog posts does though?


The reason I want a semiregular thread is because given the amount of work that goes into many show HNs I guess most people here are wary of posting their blogs as "Show HN".

Posting it in a "Ask HN: who is writing - October 2019" thread might be less scary.

If anyone posts that within a few minutes I'll upvote it (I have enough points so I don't need to start another valuable thread for that.)

Occasionally there is a thread for this (about every 6 months) and it also happens in the comments spontaneously (such as on this post.) Here's another example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20362319

I try to compile the sites that people list here: https://www.kickscondor.com/hrefhunt/ I will obviously be mining this thread. ;D

I write very irregularly, but on a variety of topics around engineering and management. I wrote an article today: http://www.drtomallen.com/blog/satificing-a-powerful-tool-fo...

I have a quirky and sparse personal page, but people are welcome to look at it if they want to. I'm playing with a concept of presenting a personal site as interactive (non?)fiction as an alternative to the expectations we have of website UI. It may be counterproductive, but it's playful. And open source!



Is the list supposed to degenerate to noise?

edit: also add my blog! https://blog.chewxy.com

> Is the list supposed to degenerate to noise?

Happens both on Safari on my iPad as well as on my Android phone with Firefox mobile.

Why does everything go to shit as I scroll?

This reminds me of openring [1], which is a little box you add to your blog with links to latest articles on blogs you follow.

[1]: https://git.sr.ht/~sircmpwn/openring

Also from sircmpwn, there is a mailing list called free-writers-club [0] with quite a few introductory posts and blog links... post yours, everyone!

  Hello and welcome! This mailing list is for authors of technical blogs
  and other publications to support each other's work. Feel free to post
  questions, drafts for review, and so on.
[0]: https://lists.sr.ht/~sircmpwn/free-writers-club

The idea of a blogring is great - we need more of that imo.

It is on my wishlist for my blog but for now I haven't gotten around to it.

Also planned: some kind of list of the latest pinboard.in entries from certain tags.

I started a tumblelog [0] a few months ago. And of course I wrote the static site generator for it myself :-) [1]. I like it, it reminds me of the Internet nearly 2 decades ago.

[0] http://plurrrr.com/

[1] https://github.com/john-bokma/tumblelog

>Be the change you want to see.

This is such important advice across so many aspects of life in general! It's easy to support a movement that's already started to to gain momentum. Something I think about still from my college days is actually from a sociology class I took as an easy requirement filler (something to do with gender studies, I forget the name).

Summarized, there's rarely a reward for being the vanguard who blazes the trail. Sometimes you might even be penalized because your methods to break into the limelight were extreme and are now hobbling your movement's mainstream appeal. The class's talking point was that there were women who fought their whole lives for the right to vote but never saw it happen or even begin to happen. But their work served to inspire activists of a later generation who went on to succeed. Sometimes we have to plant a garden knowing we might not see live to see the flowers bloom.

Clearly software is a different beast but we too, as an undustry, have things which are mainstream or valuable now but which once upon a time had only their visionaries to fight for them.

Usually there are only rewards for problems other people need solved. If you try to solve your own problem, there's nobody but yourself who could give you the reward.

> Develop apps

For locked down duopoly (85% and growing Google actually) walled garden, that has telemetry for every app launch, install, uninstall, access to every single push notification in plain text and can boot your "niche" app from the Play Store on a whim... Most of those newly connected to the internet are on locked down "smartphones" and not on general purpose computers anymore.

Check into progressive webapps. You can utilize homescreen app icon functionality if you add service workers. No more app/play store or walled garden.

For every objection there is a can-do work around.

"webapps" don't do interesting things that websites cannot do. This person was talking about actual apps, that run on your device, doing app things.

They are even more limited then regular apps though...

Don't argue. Build.

Even though i d say that a lot of innovation is stifled by regulatory constraints, the biggest one being: it's too hard to take payments and much harder to pay users. We have the technology to have digital cash on the internet but tax office won't let anyone use it

The Internet makes it too easy to scale up a business and become a monopolist.

The US has a regulatory culture of permitting monopolies as long as they are lawfully gained. I don't think this is right. I also think a sequence of monopolies, each living 5 or 10 years, before being overtaken, is also wrong; just because a monopoly is eventually overtaken doesn't mean consumers must tolerate monopolies at their height.

"Being the change" means limiting maximum size and forcing competition through regulation. That's political. I don't think there's any choice at this point if we want to preserve democracy.

> Be the change you want to see


Shameless self plug but I did a simple site recently to this effect:


I like that I'm not tracking anyone, it doesn't require UI/UX, I have little to nothing to gain from it - it's just a human connection. Something fun we might have seen in the early years of the internet.

As long as it is regulated and sanitized and can be surveilled. Especially the latter is an undeniable fact in my opinion. Although that battle seems to shift to government just not being able to do that as easily, the ambitions were clear as day.

There is still an unlimited amount of content, but the rules have changed significantly. And mostly not in favor of users.

The article offers bad examples, but monetary interests and copyright changed the nature of most content.

So true. It’s a mindset issue. Be a maverick. Don’t let big corporations brainwash you. Also, why GitHub is so amazing :-D

Indie movies are a small niche. The creation you talk about is in the same ballpark: it exists, but mostly negligible.

The Internet switched from contribution to consumption with the rise of mobile. Most users' main Internet device is a phone, not ideal for contributing meaningful content, but optimized for scrolling and media consumption.

This is an excellent way to frame it and why I hate mobile devices.

I think of this issue in a much more mundane way all the time. When looking for product reviews, for example, the top results are, in my experience, unusable. A search for espresso machine reviews returns SEO driven results, and even the more genuine-looking results (sorry BusinessInsider, but I don't need your input) seem to exclusively list products which the site manager can get a referral link for. I don't mind the idea of referral links in theory, but what happens to the entry that would be #1 except for not being available on Amazon?

I don't know that there was ever a golden age of espresso machine reviews online, but I do think that my trust in the quality of information I find through general searches has dramatically fallen in the last ten years. I imagine there is a Facebook group that might have better perspectives, or 'Coffee Twitter', but neither of those are easy to discover through Google, and multiplying my search area across them all (reddit too, I suppose) gets burdensome quickly.

So I'm not sure that the internet of creation has disappeared as much as it may have become hidden. Either within walled gardens or by the professionalization of page rank by SEO pros (against whom Joe's coffee corner cannot hope to compete).

Either way, search suggests a much less creative internet than might actually be there.

My default for those kinds of queries now is “<item> reddit”. Google results are generally poor otherwise. I’m not sure if this is because their algorithms are gamed or if it’s just because the internet outside of the main website hubs is just generally low quality (most high quality content has moved to hubs like reddit).

Reddit reviews are generally a pretty good source to find out what the flaws of a product are. I like to work out what the most common ways the product fails and how possible it is to fix them. I made the mistake of buying a pair of skullcandy headphones and after a month the plastic cracked and then I checked reddit and saw pretty much everyone who has this pair has had the same bit of plastic crack.

I think forums in general (not only reddit) are the best sources to find realistic info about almost any subject. Holiday resorts, cars, electronics, movies, education and more. You get a lot of subjective opinions, just like here. But all together they form a much better overview than most text or video reviews

The problem is they do not work for items that are niche. If you find anything, the chances are the review is not in depth or way too subjective and potentially from a person without experience in comparing like products.

Getting a list of hard faults is useful though not exhaustive.

There's the other extreme, relying too much on direct measurements, which can happen at highest end when we don't know which measurements are relevant in what way. (Examples would be mostly luxury - audio equipment, cars, yachts.) A specialist may be required to make sense of these and they are not easily vetted or found.

It’s s sad state of affairs for product search. I do the same (site:reddit) and I’m almost certain most people do too.

Google search I guess is good for entertainment search or “buzzy” things like whatever is trending on the trendsetting social networks of the day, but regular search is too spammy and farmed stuff. Often it’s junk.

I do this for almost everything not just products. Reddit is a useful place to find real humans discussing something on the internet, but also at a simple beginner friendly level. Usually there are more specialized forums (esp for something like espresso) but they require excessive time or expertise to understand. On the other hand if you want a deep discussion reddit can be hit or miss.

True there are niche blogs for enthusiast hobbyist interests, but sometimes I need to find a good <some household item>. Reddit’s got better info than most non-reddit google results.

I don’t think most people do, because if they did, Reddit would also be gamed.

Reddit is definitely being gamed, started 1-2 years ago. And it's a lot harder / impossible to identify fake recommendations, so I'm very suspicious of it.

Not saying it is, but, how would you know it isn't?

I imagine that either "they" (the advertisers/companies) have either already figured this out and are learning how to leave grassroots-looking comments, or they will pretty soon.

I think it's more the bot upvoting comments that happen to be favorable to your product than actually leaving fake comments.

I don’t know for sure, and I bet some of it is gamed (all the popular AMA type and celebrity worship or marketing crap sure is), but I think I’ve been able to glean some real comments in the niche sections, based on the history of people giving recommendations or multiple threads over the years with similar conclusions.

Reddit is certainly gamed. Not on everything, not as widespread as SEO, but I've definitely seen it before.

This. There's some really knowledgeable people over in /r/coffee that set me straight when picking out my espresso machine and grinder.

I've found that highly-developed wikis on certain subreddits feel more genuine and trustworthy than anything else out there.

I also search for <item> sucks as part of my due diligence.

i guess i was naive in thinking i was the only one!

It's just a matter of time until the "marketers" catch on. Maybe they already know and just haven't found a way to prove the business case because there's no easy way to measure how much some locked Reddit thread from a few years ago influences buying decisions.

I'm curious to see what kind of innuendo they invent for "astroturfing Reddit reviews".

I believe we're already past that point. Search for the term "reputation management". Some companies ARE willing to pay money to rebut a negative viewpoint with a human voice, and Reddit is by no means immune to this.

I don't think the question should be "if" it is happening, but how far some companies go (behind-the-scenes) to use human voices not only defend but advance their position.

On reddit today someone asked how much karma is worth or something to that effect. It could be worth a great deal to a marketer. Someone with an early sign up date and lots of karma could easily sell them selves to a marketer.

I sense reddit is full of sock puppets and sell outs. How can it not be?

They've definitely caught on. Depending on the community, lots of bots are appearing to shill for specific brands, some better than others. Example: /r/malelivingspace has a big interest in Eames Lounge Chairs, and every time they get mentioned, a few new accounts pop up like clockwork to say how much they love their specific brand censored replica lounger. A ton of other random sites get these astroturf responses too, if they talk about it.

The worst part is that if they were a bit more skilled about it, it would be indistinguishable from an actual recommendation. Give it another few years.

Yeah I do this on almost every search

https://www.millionshort.com/ Can be a big help here - search without the top million (or 100k etc) results - the SEO driven and commercial giants. Results vary, but I find it really useful when the main results are all engagement ad driven crap.

Some of the old-school web is still around, it's just down on page 20+ of Google and Bing.

I really like this idea -- it seems like it would be impossible to optimize both for Google and something like this

!mill in DDG :)

I imagine if everyone starts doing this, Reddit will suffer the exact same fate as the internet described here.

To me this feels a bit like saying the music scene used to be better but now it's all calculated pop garbage. But really the music scene is bigger and more diverse than ever, it's just that pop music is what you'll find on the front page if you will.

The surface of anything, be it a city, street, store, product, hobby, etc, will always be susceptible to marketing and manipulation.

If you first-result your way to visit a new country you can easily end up flying to its main city, take an extremely expensive taxi from the airport to some luxurious looking hotel, where a tour company has scheduled your entire stay in various touristic areas and restaurants.

Some people enjoy this experience, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's a typical first-result experience of traveling.

> golden age of espresso machine reviews

Probably when the first search result was a hobby page maintained by an espresso machine enthusiast. Those days ended early, but I remember the pre-commercial Web and it was a very different place.

I remember using a work sponsored subscription to Compuserve back in the day, and finding it incredibly useful. Signal to noise ratio was awesome (for a pretty narrow set of subject areas). I guess there’s something to be said - in certain domains - for a real, direct cost, acting as a barrier to bots and “frivolous” use. Having to pay to publish (and to consume) separates the diamonds from the diarrhoea. However this is really just saying that “walled gardens” are nice. I don’t think a return to this approach is viable except in specific knowledge domains (where the knowledge is explicitly highly valued). Espresso machine reviews (as per example floating around in this thread) may not be such a domain.

Companies have deep marketing pockets and can therefore afford to saturate walled gardens protected by payment with shit.

An opportunity for a different kind of search.

SEO is tuned for Google, making it the inevitable victim of its own success.

Let a thousand algorithms bloom! Maybe we'll get a variety of search engine styles, in the same way we have different blood types to frustrate blood parasites.

> Differing views and solutions to national policy were encouraged based on the famous expression by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong: "The policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend is designed to promote the flourishing of the arts and the progress of science".The movement was in part a response to the demoralization of intellectuals, who felt estranged from the Communist Party.

> After this brief period of liberalization, Mao cracked down on those who criticized the communist regime.

This is just a ploy by Google to flush out dissenters.

I don't trust general impressions about whether things are getting better or worse. Maybe our expectations when it comes to always finding specialized information on the Internet have gradually increased without our really noticing it?

In the early days of the Internet, for example, I wouldn't expect specialized information about, say, car repair to be found online anywhere, because the people who obsessed about that sort of thing weren't online. You did find some really specialized stuff, but it was more serendipity and hit-and-miss. You couldn't count on finding what you need.

These days, we tend to assume it's all out there, somewhere, and we should be able to find it with a simple search, assuming we can figure out the right keywords.

Good quality sources of information were rare enough and difficult enough to find that one actually made the effort to use, organize, and jealously guard bookmarks. You actually had to dig through and crawl the links yourself, so when you found something, you bookmarked it lest you never find it again.

I don't remember the last time I bothered to bookmark anything that way.

Add "forum" to your google searches. You'd find genuine reviews here: http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines

America's Test Kitchen does the best appliance reviews IMO, not sure if they cover espresso, but their pick for drip coffee machines was spot on for me.

"Business" idea: A search engine that searches just user comments and reviews (on HN, Reddit, Amazon, Google Maps, etc etc).

This has been done for forums: BoardReader.com. Google also had Discussion search previously. Now you can add "forum" to your Google searches.

Advanced Search

Out of curiosity how would create an advanced search string for this?

Trial and error, something like

"espresso machine" review OR recommend site:reddit.com


"espresso machine" review OR recommend site:news.ycombinator.com

works well

Sorry, got distracted earlier.

What I mean was: it’d be good if there were more options via, say, drop down menus, or whatever.

I vaguely recall this being a thing in some distant past?

As another commenter mentioned, append "Reddit" to your query. It was a huge help when researching my nicer espresso machine and grinder. I've also had luck once I manage to find an active forum elsewhere for a given topic like homebarista for espresso. I can then likewise modify queries with that site.

SEO has always been an arms race between the crap and what people actually want with the Joe's coffee corner caught in the middle. I remember earlier Google for instance having more keyword and snippet spam pages. I am glad they are largely gone but now reviews are loaded with purchased shills.

>here is a Facebook group that might have better perspectives, or 'Coffee Twitter', but neither of those are easy to discover through Google I'm seeing this as a growing problem, more and more content exists that is not accessible for Google and therefore not searchable

Agreed. If I could search the web of the year 2000 using the Google Search of 2000, I would prefer it to searching the web of today about half the time (specifically, when the knowledge I seek hasn't changed much since 2000.)

ConsumerSearch is the best thing I've found for this purpose specifically


the key is money.

google wants to get paid, blog writers want to get paid, manufacturers want to make sales

the people with the lesser interest in profit (or attention $ instead of quality get buried because they dont make anybody else any money

Normal people finally got on the internet and the average person can’t create shit. All they can do is bitch and moan, be horrible to others, and be surveilled and controlled. And that’s what we got.


A slightly different take on Eternal September:

In the old days, when you joined a community it could be very insular. That's okay, there were communities for everything and everyone. So you had to read the rules, learn the lingo, and shut up and lurk for a while so you didn't invoke the wrath of the mods. Or you were gone.

Anti-social, attention-seeking, spammy, obnoxious or controlling behavior was simply not tolerated. What right did you have to come into another's home and begin making demands as to how they live their lives?

All of that has changed. The above behaviors are the new norm, thanks to the simultaneous nature of the walled gardens of social media and the fact that the walls are low enough that everyone can see into your garden.

Suddenly you have nosy neighbors saying, "Hey, I'll be honest, that crabgrass in your lawn is making it harder to appreciate the beauty of my own lawn. Maybe you should clean it up, everyone else is doing it, so you must be anti-social if you don't.

The entire meaning of the word "anti-social" has completely changed. I would consider most modern online communities to be extremely anti-social.

The only answer is a return to form, going back to individual communities where we can more freely express our opinions, just making sure to network our communities in such a way that compassion and sincerity flourish, and we don't just return to the echo chambers of the 90's (they did exist!).

The reason most the web has been neutered is why Hacker News is so great.https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20032259


There are strong opinions here on certain topics that are not to be crossed or you'll be punished by the upper class that is allowed to downvote. A class that has established itself by following those opinions.

Also "newb-style" talk is not welcome also.

This is just as elitist as your average "scene" board these days. Not great not terrible.

Parent misses the point. Hacker News is an example of what one specimen in a healthy ecosystem of forums would look like.

However, we do not have a healthy ecosystem, and as such Hacker News comes off as oppressive to those with outlier opinions, because another forum of equal quality (both content and diversity of users), similar size and a similar topic of discourse doesn't really exist. Being banished from HN means being banished from what some consider to be the upper echelons of discussion around the tech and startup scene.

That's the nature of large groups of people though.

If the outlier opinions have merit, shouldn't there be a forum for their expression?

I can only post 4 comments every two or so hours, effectively prohibiting me from most of the fast-paced front page discussion and overall prohibiting me from engaging.

Why? Because I likened whale poaching to genocide [0]. I didn't even believe I was sharing a controversial opinion, because apparently that is starting a flame war and I've been warned for it before after asking a relatively simple (and apparently naive) question about black holes and getting engaged by a vitriolic and hateful user who kept flagging me while simultaneously calling me names and hurling insults.

But here I am, because Reddit is garbage, 4chan has melted, and niche forums are dying and the bulk of communication is no longer taking place within them. And there are so many amazing and talented people to draw inspiration from on HN.

In my town's local subreddit, I am similarly severely limited to a few posts every couple of hours, because I voiced the opinion in what is apparently a majority conservative subreddit that someone was making racist, unempathetic comments regarding black people and pitbulls.

I'm considering going back to a bunch of email lists...

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20326029

No, I was being serious. You have some fair points but I still think the ecosystem here is one of the most healthy.

There's a musician called Kebu, who's work has high similarities to Jean-Michel Jarre's. Question: if Kebu was born the time Jarre was born, wih the same influences, and the same opportunities, could he have created his music without the set path of Jarre? (This is not in any way attacking his work, it's merely a theoretical question).

Visionaries are extremely rare. Most of us follow and copy existing work. All that said, I think your words are a bit too harsh. Average person are not that bad at creating, they are bad at willing to create, they tend to lack the drive to do so.

the average person can’t create shit

I think you're confusing not being able to create things with not being able to compete with people who are truly good at what they do.

Everyone can create stuff, it's just that most people aren't very good at it because they've not yet mastered what they're doing. The thing is though, that doesn't matter. If they enjoy the creative process then that's more than enough.

This is the first time I have heard of a "tech crisis" - and I think it's appropriate. I think we, as industry leaders, need to accept and address our faults and shadows. The first step to progress is to admit that you need help.

Hi, my name is FAANG and I’m addicted to money

Hi I'm a short-term mentality shareholder and I'm also addicted to money

Hi, I'm an end user who refuses to pay for software.

Why should I when all the tools I need are online for free?

Hi, I'm a Alexa paying end user and I'm surveilled anyway. I've paid for my smatrtv and I'm being aurveilled. I've paid for cable and they told me there where be less ass and more quality shows. Well I'm maybe wrong but people not paying are looking smarter than me

"ass" -> ads, right?

Hi, I'm a broke American who would only eat organic, not buy cheap electronics from China, volunteer 6 hours a week, help out the homeless every Saturday, never use Uber, and take part in every major political protest.... just as soon as my government decides an economy functions better when the people who make it up aren't living on scraps. Ethical consumption under late-stage capitalism is a myth. It can't happen.

And before you tell me something about lifestyle changes, I pay well over $100 a month for various software and distribute around $50 to the local homeless a month. But that isn't the norm and most people can't justify it. Our tech salaries blind us from how the rest of the world lives.

I mean... I contribute to and release my own free software, so at least I'm putting my money where my mouth is? Making things free is a form of economic resistance.

> just as soon as my government decides an economy functions better when the people who make it up aren't living on scraps.

The economy is functioning exactly as intended, I'm afraid.

The classic case of design vs implementation. :)

Hi, I'm a user, I don't pay for services. And I'm a paying customer. We were told that everything is fine, privacy matters less, safety is what matters most and we blinding believe in big tech co because tech is the new frontier, tech is the future, tech is the new God

Hi, my name is Website Owner, I add a lot of unnecessary text to all of my pages to rank better in search engines

The Internet of creation is still out there. There are plenty of places on the internet where people make cool stuff. Even YouTube is still a hotbed of creation, despite the platform growing more hostile to it.

It's just that next to the internet of creation, there's also a big corporate internet now, and it's pulling in a lot of people and trying to stake claims in parts of the internet of creation. But creation is still thriving.

> the Internet promised to be a democratising place to be turned to in the flight from the inequalities of the analogue world.

Okay, maybe that didn't work out so well

> It was presented to us a field in which to find freedoms, boundless creation

Mostly yes. People are instagraming, tiktoking, youtubing, blogging, open-sourcing, unity-unrealing, more people are creating more things than ever before.

> communication that transcended frontiers

Totally true. I talk to friends all over the world. Participate on HN, discourse, discord, slack, email, facebook, etc and it's all free. Some of it sponsored but much of it just plain free, run by volunteers.

> and free education for all.

Pretty much true. What can't I learn about for free online? Pick nearly any topic and there are youtube channels, blog posts, articles, etc all for free on how to do pretty much anything.

The internet of creation? You literally cannot think of an idea that someone hasn't built a website for. And then someone see those websites and say, "well theirs sucks, mine will be better" and they build their own.

It has never been easier to create something online. I ride with random people on a shared ride and they give me a card with a website they created themselves. It's ugly, it's crappy, but it's exactly in the spirit of the internet of creation.

People who created in the 90s were a minority, a small percentage of the total connected. Today, this percentage continues to grow. Though it is still the minority.

There might have been a minority of creators, but there was far less to consume compared to today.

The creators in the 90s created because there was very little to consume compared to today. When the creators of the 90s were kids they didn’t consume, because there was little to anything to consume. But creating software was limitless.

Creating content in someone’s platform is different than creating your own HTML experience. Both are relevant... but the percentage of creation should be a default skill of all users beyond working for companies for free to create user generated content to sell.

The title says it all.

The Internet used to be about building and sharing things. Then it turned into a giant and mindless message feed where everyone exposes everything about their private lives, intentionally or not.

Now all of the hot new opportunities that exist are to spy on and exploit that data. The latest AI hype is a consequence of the pervasiveness of "big data".

I miss building and sharing cool things instead with the online community.

Part of that was a higher barrier to entry to push content online. It wasn't hard per se but it wasn't easy.

Now, my 5 year old nephew can do it. Before, it took dedication and creativity to put something together. It's now more difficult to find needles in the haystack.


Now all of the infrastructure is built. Oversaturated and consolidated.

At least the game dev scene is vibrant, even if overcrowded.

I like to fantasise about invite-only internet ‘shards’ off the main internet. Each shard would have a maximum capacity, and that capacity would be small enough that someone could create an index of every page in the shard. You could only be a member of one shard at a time. Shards wouldn’t be topic-based, they’re just deliberately small communities. Like the “mosaic of subculture” and “community of 7000” in A Pattern Language.

Yeah we thought it was great that the internet could connect us to anyone, but it turns out that I only liked that as long as “anyone” was likely to be someone similar to me. Now that “anyone” is more likely to be a brand, an advertiser or an influencer tween... no thanks.

It appears there's an optimal amount of users for each internet community. Too few users and the traffic will be low to generate any interest. Too many users and the signal to noise ratio decreases and the knowledgeable people start leaving.

It seems measured elitism is the only answer.

There's already a system for it: https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/

Interesting, I hadn’t heard of that - sounds quite similar to Mastodon? I wish they weren’t social networks based around identities, friends and sequences of posts, though. I would much prefer sites and pages to be the primary thing. I don’t like the kind of content that social media encourages, even decentralised social media.

Have you considered/looked into Indieweb[0] concepts? While one could argue that it is a sorta type of decentralized "social media"...i would argue that it simply is "sites and pages"...But that can be somewhat be connected to other sites in a loose, decentralized manner - but only if you desire to be connected. Not sure that indieweb is exactly what you seek. But, have a look and see. Good luck!

[0] https://indieweb.org

The way most people act on internet has changed dramatically. Web users are usually consumers, and web "creators" are often standard sellers. People got used to the fact the sites are there to attract them in a race for attention.

An anecdotal evidence: circa 2000, I published an old French dictionary. I received thousands of emails about it during the first years. Some people just asked about a word, or send their thanks, or noticed some kind of error. Nowadays, the number of visits hasn't changed, but almost nobody sends email. I probably wouldn't answer them anyway. I believe this is an side-effect of a larger change. Maybe writing email is now a harder task. Maybe people aren't used to non-promotion sites outside Wikipedia.

In the past it was much easier to attribute a website to a single person or a small group of people, and maybe they were able to publish contact details like email addresses without fear of them being harvested and spammed. Websites didn't really have comments sections so often so the reliable method for feedback was email.

Maybe email was also a lot less tedious back then - it strikes me that these days the main purposes of email accounts are to allow registration with other online services and to hold the huge amount of spam that usually happens as a result of registering for online services.

I don't know many people my age (Gen-Y) who would even dream of using their personal email accounts to actually communicate with actual people outside of places where it is strictly required (like applying for jobs), even less so their friends. They're too used to services run by corporate giants (like FAANG) and are being trained to interact in very specific ways, e.g. in direct messages in apps, in the comments sections or through "Like" and "reactions" buttons.

I am glad this is being generally realized and people are no longer pretending the status quo is fine. It's the first step toward changing things.

I don't know. Given that the free internet gave us the likes of 4chan, things are changing in the other direction for a reason. It's kind of unclear to me whether the pendulum is ready to swing back towards lack of oversight again.

I think there's an argument that the consolidated internet caused 4chan to morph from a benign imageboard to the relative monster it is today. 4chan didn't start as a cancer, it became that way when all the 'normies' left for reddit|facebook|twitter.

It's actually kinda the opposite, 4chan traffic more than doubled[0] (with a matching decrease in quality) after gamergate and the election, and there is a general consensus that it's going to get worse when the next election ramps up


I see the chans today as inseparable from the social silos. There's a two way dynamic in play. The chans are to social media what the gaming discords are to the games they shadow. It's where people go to cook up strategies to play the social attention game, and it's also an echo chamber where new memes and such are cooked up.

The whole thing needs to be nuked from orbit.

That the free internet gave us the likes of 4chan is exactly why we should defend it.

Can you explain why?

It is (was?) a place of free exchange of ideas, without ego. You have no updoots to collect, nobody can be downdooted for not conforming to groupthink. Anyone who tries to establish an identity on the site is lambasted for not respecting the anonymous nature of the discussion.

There will always be a place for truly anonymous discourse. For a time, that was 4chan.

And what has been the result of that anonymous discourse?

A lot of wonderful, wonderful things. Anonymous has roots in 4chan. A lot of amazing political activism has sprung from 4chan. And it was the seed for the entire meme culture which permeates the internet.

At its peak, 4chan along with half a dozen other forums entirely contained the fountain of creativity from which the modern internet drew its inspiration.

I have been visiting 4chan since elementary school, now well in my twenties, so I have seen the changes over the years. What exists today is a shell of what once was. moot, the resident admin, left some years ago and placed the forum in the hands of a third party with conflicted interests and no interest in proper moderation.

It's also worth mentioning that /b/, the board everyone is most familiar with outside of 4chan, is the one where you hear about all the illegal racist stuff getting posted.

Before /pol/ was hijacked into a nazi version of /b/, it was actually a wonderful place for political discussion. And there are dozens of other topic-specific boards which harbor some very thought-provoking discussion.

That is positive, but it's hard to say if that positivity has outweighed the negativity that came after. It's also hard to say If one can preserve such positivity in the absence of stronger moderation. In fact, as you indicated, one of 4chan's failings was a lack of proper moderation after moot left.

History has indicated time and again that you cannot trust a "benevolent dictator" model for sustained positive outcomes, and the consequences when it breaks down can be terrible and tragic.

That is positive, but it's hard to say if that positivity has outweighed the negativity that came after.

You're conflating a change in leadership with a defect in the merit of anonymous discourse.

I'm not sure that's conflation. If everyone's anonymous, the only throttle / censorship / regulation / what have you is if the benevolent dictator decides to hit individual posts with the shut-up-stick (or ban IP addresses, which is ham-fisted but sure does temporarily silence someone).

A change in leadership has immediate effect on the discourse, and not all anonymous discourse has equal merit (trading pedophilia pornography being an obvious example of discourse that is more or less universally identified as negative merit). So a change in leadership changes the merit of the discourse that leadership wields a shut-up-stick over.

A change in leadership has immediate effect on the discourse

This is true for literally all online communities, anonymous communities are no different. Lack of leadership and failure to enforce rules always breaks a community down. So yes, you are indeed conflating these two separate issues.

Anonymous people saying shitty things on 4chan is nothing compared to surveillance capitalism. If anyone regulates 4chan out of existence and declares victory, they’ve missed the point.

What is the point they will have missed?

One argument might be that /pol/ might arguably be able to radicalise one or two people a year into a mass shooting, but that's not as bad as a worldwide technological panopticon. (It's not really a dichotomy, of course.)

radicalise one or two people a year into a mass shooting

You undermine your point with such obvious counterfactuals. This is not in any way an endorsement of the panopticon - which is exactly what /pol/ wants, just with itself in middle.

I don't know what you mean by that, sorry. Could you elaborate? I could read that as you either being charitable, or the opposite, towards /pol/.

That trading liberty for safety usually yields neither.

Modern interpretations of that quote are way off the bead from the historical origin and intent of the original speaker. https://www.npr.org/2015/03/02/390245038/ben-franklins-famou...

It's not unlike people misattributing the quote about the net, censorship, and damage to mean the internet, When it actually referred to USENET (a system that was, essentially, censored by collective action of internet service providers ceasing to store and forward its messages, some because they perceived it as obsolete, some because they believe they would have personal responsibility, morally if not legally, for the way people use the channel).

The simplistic interpretation of the Franklin quote breaks down very quickly when one observes that most of the Founding Fathers agreed significantly with Locke's social contract theory, which is very much relinquishing individual, personal liberties for collective safety.

Thanks! Here is the meat:

WITTES: He was writing about a tax dispute between the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the family of the Penns, the proprietary family of the Pennsylvania colony who ruled it from afar. And the legislature was trying to tax the Penn family lands to pay for frontier defense during the French and Indian War. And the Penn family kept instructing the governor to veto. Franklin felt that this was a great affront to the ability of the legislature to govern. And so he actually meant purchase a little temporary safety very literally. The Penn family was trying to give a lump sum of money in exchange for the General Assembly's acknowledging that it did not have the authority to tax it.

SIEGEL: So far from being a pro-privacy quotation, if anything, it's a pro-taxation and pro-defense spending quotation.

WITTES: It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it's almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.

However this misunderstanding alone is not a reason on it's own to dismiss Ygg2's statement.

I somewhat disagree. Without the assumed historical connotation of the quote, which as you have just indicated is incorrect, the thought itself (trading liberty for safety yields neither) is just false. It is simply one of the trades one must do in a stable society.

Unsafe situations do not yeild themselves into liberty. Instead, they are the exact situations when violent authoritarian groups arise. One way to push toward own dictatorship is to consciously push the country you are in into disorder and unsafety. (Famously, Nazi did exactly that.)

Meanwhile, free people seek themselves safety. Meanwhile, authoritarian groups tend to push for eager to fight risk taking masculinity.

It is not really trade off.

Chan culture is one of three things that I personally list as having killed the creative Internet, with the other two being gamified / addictive social media and spam.

Chan culture is itself a form of addictive gamified social media too, albeit of a much more niche variety. It popularized memes and snark as a cheap zero effort way to get attention and as a "thought stopper."

I started hating chan culture way back in the 'oughts before any of this Nazi alt-right edgelord BS, but none of it surprises me. I saw the way cheap shitty memes and repetitive jokes were overtaking substance everywhere and that the chans were the origin of the cancer.

I still struggle to describe the essence of the chans but I know it when I see it. There is this odd cognitive style and of course jargon and buzzwords. It's almost like a very weird cult... like how people who have had contact with them say you can smell a scientologist.

Thank goodness for GitHub, it’s pure creative bliss and it’s growing obscenely fast.

The internet is awesome. It's those goddamn users that is the problem.

Bit ironic that all of these articles about how the internet has lost its creativity is always on boring yet slick graphic-designer-cum-ux-designer-in-metropolis looking website.

Today I tried to read a few links off HN and hit endless paywalls and ad infestations, all for a paragraph of fluff. I logged onto Facebook and my feed was crowded out with promoted posts and memes. I went on Reddit and the tiny bit of great content was crowded out with memes. I realized this is it. The web has fully lost it's early magic and it will never recover it in this iteration. There are ways you could fix it, but it's too late and all the players are too entrenched for anything to change. The monetization model is broken. This pony is all out of tricks.

We'll need to pioneer the next platform for tech to be exciting and fresh again. Probably VR, possibly AR. I'll see you guys there.

Facebook has outlasted everyone else working on VR, so now they get to own that platform. They were sad they didn't get an app store monopoly like Google and Apple, and now they have one. Better luck with AR I guess, where our best hope is that at least the current tech oligarchs compete for it rather than just allowing one of them to take it like they let Facebook take VR.

If everybody here would flag the paywall'd junk and not upvote it, it could be a nicer place.

Liberally using the 'hide' button also helps, but only yourself. You kind of need to cull out a third of it. One of these days I'm going to make a custom skin that filters out the worst of the hosts that clog up the front page.

Grateful for that hide feature, so useful. Thanks for adding that Hn team.

A few hacks that don’t fully solve it but do help to some extent: adblock plus, just read, incognito mode, searching the article title and clicking through from google ( or the “web” link here in Hn ).

Developers who work on adtech nonsense, GDPR popups, etc, should take a hard look in the mirror.

Yeah, you might make a bit of money, and yeah, maybe your colleagues, in your sick system, give you a bit of respect.

One day, I think you're going to wake up and realise that you wasted your talents. Like a war veteran who thought what they were doing was right, that the ends justified the means, until suddenly one day it all came crashing down around them.

You have the choice, here and now. You're sitting in front of a general purpose computer. You can make fun and interesting tools - you can make stuff to break down barriers - the pathways you can take your craft are unlimited.

Choose wisely.

I understand the cookie choice popups are maybe a legal necessity in some places with GDPR and so on, but the implementation of the entire thing is just awful. Each website having their own badly-coded popovers which are either slow, unusable or just outright deceptive, blocking page scrolling and causing unnecessary page reloads.

As for advertising taking over the place, it's just getting insane with them being inserted inline in article content and increasing the page load time significantly, appearing at the beginning of videos or, worse, half-way through them, making pages more resource-intensive and less responsive.

The web has never been so widely accessible and yet it has never been more inaccessible.

> three decades following the creation of the Internet

The internet turns 50 in a week.

People often conflate the web with internet, and given how predominant http has become, I don't blame them.

Yeah, heck, with DoH, you could almost say there is no internet, only the web. :)

I can accept some of what is said on this article but from a technical perspective the internet (imho) offers much more opportunities to create and collaborate than any other time in the past.

I believe most of the shortcomings and abuse of the internet is a result of mass adoptation of the technology without correspnding legislature. Societies just haven't caught up with technology,even well seasoned technologists struggle to grasp the privacy implications and economic complexities at hand. There is also the psychological aspect where the mechanics of the internet are intangible and we have a hard time conceptualizing and grasping these complexities the same way we do tangible constructs. Imagine how complex a physical machine would be if it was as complex as a web browser,but we can see it and we can easily grasp the scale of the complexity and adjust our approach on how to use and secure it accordingly.

> offers much more opportunities to create and collaborate than any other time in the past.

We had skype, games, ICQ, MSN, blogs, blog aggregators, rss readers, galleries, audiogalaxy, guestbooks, forums, hotline communications, IRC, video chats, joomla, wikis etc etc in the year 2003. Not much has been added. Video is perhaps the only thing that we didnt have. A big deal but it s not everything. The main change was the format - mobile. The internet today feels less vibrant, less mysterious, with less corners to explore, and it's not because we 've exhausted it all. Even the news have become extremely repetitive, with every site posting the same stories slightly rephrsed. People keep parroting the same obsessive ideas over and over and over in their comments. Everything is memes, and that everything is actually a small number of ideas being produced every day, possibly countable in one hand. You have to dig hard into social forums to find a unique perspective, as the self-congratulating, selfimportant crowds seem to have crowded out everyone else.

Anecdotally, how many sites do you find yourselves browsing daily?

You have to realize your experience is not everyone's experience. And nostalgia is a lie.

> We had skype, games, ICQ, MSN, blogs, blog aggregators, rss readers, galleries, audiogalaxy, guestbooks, forums, hotline communications, IRC, video chats, joomla, wikis

Signal,whatsapp,ipfs,discord,slack,github,confluence,twitter,twitch,stackoverflow and so much more from a "techie" perspective. But have you considerer how much more accesible the internet has become? Forums were nice but you had to find the right one and once that site shuts you might lose all content and all the people you know there but for most people social media is better. IRC,icq,etc.. Were not very secure,they were not multi media friendly either. You heard of Viber? Super popular in non-western countries on-par with whatsapp. Skype you say? Zoom,webex,logmein and the like make video chat and desktop sharing a breeze. Learning things is so much better too: pluralsight,udemy,cybrary and MOOCs were not a thing in 2003. Free webhosting ,document editing,job hunting anf so much more (excluding things like uber,doordash,instacart that provide IRL services). But more than all that,there are so many more options for just about everything now.

The past always looks shinyand guess what,the internet is even more mysterious now for those who get curious enough!

I think like most you're only looking at the popular sites and apps. E.g.: peertube vs youtube or HN vs Reddit.

Daily I frequent 5-10 sites on a regular basis but I visit a lot more than that when finding external content on those sites,certainly a lot more than 10+ years ago.

Half the services you mention either

- require a phone and phone number to sign up

- lock you in

- will shut down next year unless someone buys them and bastardizes them to oblivion

- are services that replace services that were bought and bastardized (skype). they re bound to repeat the cycle

- arent as popular / dont work (ipfs vs torrents)

- lock content away from search engines

- are basically rehashes of the same idea with much heavier browser footprint for the sake of ... i dont know what really

- Are all platforms - they dont specialize, they force you inside an eternally septembered community . I Liked having separate accounts in separate forums - having many identities is a virtue - and good for privacy

- are Incremental updates. E2E encryption is the one thing that matters, for the rest, we had flash video converence in 2003, and it worked better than webrtc solutions today

- MOOCs are not a successful thing today either though. good that we have all that content, but it wasn't enabled by any of the aforementioned companies.

I m not sure i m convinced we have a fundamentally different - or better - internet today. Everythinig you mention is repackaging. (and we had job ads and lots of free webhosting too btw. You know neocities, they re even named out of nostalgia for geocities, craigslist is still a thing).

I don't think I can change your mind but functionally I have a much better expetience and in many cases a simpler experience than in the past. Lots of lessons were learned and continue to be learned. I mean,popularity aside forums,IRC,Skype (use it everyday!) and all the old tech is mostly still there. In many ways isn't less more? Would you prefer forums with millions of active users or IRC channels with 100K+ active users? I think the internet is big enough and diverse enough to satisfy most people. But the trendy and popular stuff isn't meant for people who like the older internet much like SMS wasn't meant for people who love pagers and email wasn't meant to satisfy people that like to write paper mail,so long as there are enough enthusiasts of a tech it will live on but the future will continue to look a lot less like the past. For me after not using IRC for quite a while I used Matrix and it looked so much and so little like IRC,I think it's a good example of how more internet users means more things that satisfy more groups. One size fits all doesn't scale.

> and all the old tech is mostly still there

Only as ghost towns

> ways isn't less more?

Err, no. Have you used facebook groups, the social groups that we are supposed to use today? Crippled intentionally, abysmally few options, impossible to discover. These are platforms for users who don't care about discourse, they want to come and shout, and shout often, to beat the algorithms. Yesterday's content is already lost. Compare that with even yahoo groups.

> prefer forums with millions

No! But that's what facebook is, what reddit is. Eternal september comes too soon

> for quite a while I used Matrix and

I wish matrix would catch on

> One size fits all doesn't scale.

Exactly . We have one size for everything today: platforms for billions. But it's a bad fit for niche, weird communities.

21 years ago, in 1998, there was a software called Microsoft FrontPage 98. You started it, visually made a website with elements shared over all pages, and pressed a button to publish a static page.

There's nothing like this today that is simple, financially accessible, and works out of the box. (With maybe the exception of Mobirise, but it has too much free-to-play vibe.)

A little while ago there was an entry here: "Flash Is Responsible for the Internet's Most Creative Era" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21242857 and reminded me of Swishmax ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWiSH_Max ), a tool I used around 2003. It was a breeze to use, to create animations. I'm unaware of anything like this today.

In 2005, DC communities shared any content and had vibrant chat communities. Blog didn't immediately meant WordPress, but Pingbacks and RSS worked across them, so websites were able to talk to other websites.

In 2008, Skype worked. File sharing over Skype worked, because it was able to use the local network and went p2p over LAN. Video and sound always worked.

We're nearly in 2020 now, and video conferencing still sucks.

Nostalgia is only a lie of you don't have proof. I still have the installer for most of these programs.


none of this is a creative tool

they are all just iterations of the same idea: streaming content

the last creative tool was, sadly, flash

sadly because it could have been the beginning of an era of open content creation platforms, but it was its end

> But have you considerer how much more accesible the internet has become?

much less

my mom could have browsed the internet 20 years ago, today she can't

she doesn't know how to signup, she doesn't even know what "login with facebook" means

> You heard of Viber? Super popular in non-western countries on-par with whatsapp. Skype you say? Zoom,webex,logmein

Iterations of the same idea.

Nothing new.

> The past always looks shinyand guess what,the internet is even more mysterious now for those who get curious enough!

It is really not.

There is just more content of lower overall quality.

> pluralsight,udemy,cybrary and MOOCs

NNTP and IRC worked well enough and they were free

It’s because we’ve given over to aggregators. When we need to actually get something done, they’re useful. If you want to explore though, they’re less useful. You need wiki links and webrings and recommendations that aren’t driven by algorithm.

There's a lot of stuff that changed:

- Past: fewer people online, mostly curious and quirky ones; now: everyone's online

- Past: fewer creators; now: everyone's a creator with an FB/Instagram

- Past: doing stuff for fun; now: doing stuff for $$$ (maybe not all but definitely lots). Thousands of thousands of YouTubers. We're flooded with content every day.

- With so much content to consume, the desire for creation vanishes.

- I also feel like the societies getting more well-off kills the innovation. When I was a student I couldn't really afford many things, so I had to be creative to get around that. Now you just pay a few bucks to some internet giant and all your problems are solved.

- I feel like facebookization killed many online communities. What used to be an independent phpbb board with a logical structure, room for customization and some tools for admins to manage it, became an FB group that is impossible to navigate and manage sensibly, with posts ordered by an algorithm, and which spams me with notifications at the least convenient times.

- Other downside of power grab by FB: I hate when all my real-life friends get spammed by every little post on every shitty FB group I make. This totally killed the anonymity of the net and separation between various communities.

- Societal radicalization means there's more trolls and aggressive people than before, which makes me less keen to engage in discussions with strangers (apart from HN, one of few places that keeps the level).

- I used to read news on the internet to save time (among other reasons). Now with all the heavy ads-bloated, video-bloated, SEO-optimized gibberish content split in 15-pages slideshow, and clickbaity headlines, I think it might be actually more informative and time efficient to read and oldschool newspaper or watch evening news.

- Having said that, maybe it's just the old guard getting old, and having less time to explore -- getting busy with work, families etc.? On Reddit, there are lots of very weird subcommunities I'd never think of. My younger brother still plays Deluxe Ski Jump like it's early 2000s, and hangs out with the other guys who do the same.

> I feel like facebookization killed many online communities. What used to be an independent phpbb board with a logical structure, room for customization and some tools for admins to manage it, became an FB group that is impossible to navigate and manage sensibly, with posts ordered by an algorithm, and which spams me with notifications at the least convenient times.

To be honest, I think Reddit is to blame more for that. It killed so many specialized communities and forums.

> With so much content to consume, the desire for creation vanishes.

Those would seem to be contradictory statements. There must be desire for creation for there to so much content created.

Not really

One thing is the desire to be there (the famous 15 minutes of popularity) another is the will to create

Most of the content is just playlists of content created elsewhere and aggregated by someone trying to make money out of it

Yeah, let me repeat the observation that those things are passing through a phase of hyperoptimization with money being the only goal, that I post every time some discussion like this appears.

Internet content is not even the worst case of hyperoptimization around, nor by far the most concerning. There's something to say about how companies measure and treat their employees. But yes, it's a problem, and very hard to solve.

I don't even understand what is causing it. We aren't in some sudden crisis where we need to optimize everything, and in the end it goes even against its own goal so it's not rational anyway. Yet, it's everywhere.

Yeah, the consolidation has been relentless.

I also share the sentiment that a lot of the "innovation" online these days is merely skin-deep, but I can't say whether it's just my perspective after being online for 20 years.

Yeah the consolidation is the biggest component I've noticed. I find myself only going to a handful of websites on a regular basis

> Not much has been added.

Apart from "smart" phones, which had tremendous repercussions for your otherwise remarkable list.

I did mention the mobile format. Which is responsible largely for the dumbed-dowb, featureless, memoryless internet I experience

> Anecdotally, how many sites do you find yourselves browsing daily?

That's an interesting question. If you had asked how often do you use the web my answer would be all day, every day with multiple simultaneous connections.

But browsing? One or two places mostly out of habit and even the frequency of that is declining.

My take is that next step is to bring virtual back to reality again. We should have new media (social networks) associated with old media to do this, similar to the transition that music did but for news and virtual communities.

Way back when pretty much every ISP offered some homepage space with your connections (also email addresses and usually newsgroup access). Loads of people put one up, and it wasn't brimming over with JS, tracking, and calls out to a dozen services. Nope, it was distinctly amateur in feel but you got a wild eclectic mix of pages about hobbies, history and interests. Often hooked to a webring of other sites in the same niche. Then for those without ISP space, came Geocities. Same sort of things except animated starfields and rotating icons were so much more popular.

Mostly those have been replaced by FB groups, reddit and other feed based aggregators so that it's interesting for a few hours, then lost (almost) without trace. It relies on you being active enough to see it when it was posted. Even blogs are fading, unless sales focused tied to your company... There's more code out there on github, but that's just one aspect of creation.

I see almost infinitely less lasting creation, with a few remaining islands, but an awful lot more rhetoric and pontificating. Which used to be mostly the easily avoided preserve of some of the newsgroups. :)

> There's more code out there on github, but that's just one aspect of creation.

1,000 free, open-source blogging platforms on github, but we all just post on Facebook.

It's not colonialism if you can opt-out of it. Which, for most of the nations of the world, you can.

Don't get me wrong. We've been manipulated by advertising since the 1850s. The Hidden Persuaders, written in 1957, detailed the ways advertising can manipulate our subconscious to make us do things beyond our control. 'Big Ad' has been a core component of American radio and television since its introduction to the US. When the internet arrived in the '90s, so did a raft of businesses floated solely by ad dollars. Google improved the game with more personalized ads, but this was really just a form of direct marketing, which had existed for a half century.

But most of the things we consume, we do because we are consumers, in a consumer society. We have not been captured by a foreign power and forced to work for nearly nothing, with our lands pilfered for goods to power a foreign nation. We are not 'unsalaried slaves'. We are willfully accepting the trade of services for our attention and our dollars - the same way we did with newspapers, and radio and television programs. We have been selling our attention for cheap for a century and a half, buying whatever crap someone feels like printing.

In most nations today, we have the complete freedom to pay for and use the internet without advertising or restriction. You can pay for an internet connection, pay for e-mail, send and receive files, communicate, etc, all without ever being sold a diet pill, told to vote for a candidate, or having your data changed out to something more profitable. And you can do all of this with the security of a first-world military power.

The global internet is still the most powerful, affordable, un-controlled communications tool in the world. You can talk about empire all you want, but really the only oppressive forces are governments against their own people. Yes, many governments have chilling effects on the rights of their people to have free speech - but those are limits imposed within their borders, and not to the internet as a whole. We still have an internet of creation, and we can still use it to change the world (evidenced by how many nations are rightly afraid of its power to allow people to freely communicate!) The only thing that has left is our imagination, but luckily, no one can take that away from us.

Recently I switched from Google search to Bing search. Bing is years behind Google, and today, that's a feature. Microsoft just hasn't bothered to do the obnoxious things Google does now. Bing doesn't have much content of its own. The better search results seem to show up before the ads. It's not flashy, but it's OK.

I think they also supply results to DuckDuckGo.

DDG also has it's own crawler, but the bulk of the results are from Bing.

Let’s assume this trend continues for another couple decades. What happens next? Something has to rise from the ashes, right?

It didn't merely disappear. It was murdered. Chances are you are complicit.

Digital colonialism is a deeply ironic phrase that underlies hypocrisy - it has long been favored by communist circles, the fascists wearing communist's clothing types, especially third world nationalists. It is a favorite for attacking any outsidsers who interfere with "their" territory completely independent of coerciveness or actual sins of colonialism. If a doctor came in and brought real medicine into an epidemic they would deride it as colonialism.

And yet here they are Johhny come lates now coming in to colonize their daft ideas about colonalism and control when they were late adopters.

When you control the means of communication and are a foreign super power, it is colonialism.

"our battle is not lost, but that we can control the use of our data, [...] that the privacy laws that protect us are obeyed."

Privacy, privacy. We've actually developed a self-hosted private cloud solution as a substitute to Dropbox for exactly these reasons. Basically a private Dropbox at home (no complicated installation and no server needed)

We're currently in beta, could interest a few in this thread! https://www.duple.io/en/

The point is to have a product that works just like a Dropbox, as simple and straightforward, but that is actually private with no one interfering, playing, accessing or reading your data.

There's more to do than that. We need decentralized replacement for social media And our own email servers for starters. This should all come in one box like a wifi access point or modem.

We have always had email servers. You can set up one today. What we need is to to convince more technical people to use the internet the way it was designed for. And to find ways for these people to make money, because the monopolized internet of today makes that unattainable.

Been there, done that... It is a waste of time and effort if you can't convince other people to join your services. I have operated a jabber server for quite some time (2008ish - 2012). Mostly for me and some friends to organize lan parties and such. I told other people about it but after a week of interest, no one seriously used it, since everyone was already using other services to communicate -- also using a XMPP client seemed to be to much to ask for the non-techies.

As time goes on our communications moved towards facebook and teamspeak. And after dropping out of the local gaming scene I stopped operating it altogether -- if I am the only one using a comms-infrastructure its kinda moot, even if it's a federated system. I had some contacts outside of the gaming-bubble but by the time no one seemed to have used it anymore.

it really is an issue of network-lock-in though. facebook is already bloated, discord will become as well. they try hard not to rot but they will

Maybe something to make would be an addition to mail servers that chat-ifies group emails.

all you need is an X-header. I also liked the expires header but it didnt catch on

Chatifies in what way?

Group iMessage = CC list, cc list becomes messaging group. I suppose one way this could play out would be simply to add an email submission API for text messaging app(s), but it's an incomplete idea so far. :)

I'm still not sure what you mean. Are you simply talking about an email client that looks like a text messaging program?

That's doable. The image in my mind was the reverse: a chat program that displays email threads. Interactions in chat become mailing list replies emailed out, and replies to the CC list are displayed in the chat channel.

I like that idea; An email client that looks and behaves like the regular messaging apps in iOS/Android.

Agreed. We also need to make out of the box private tools that anyone can use. Step by step!

The normal people came to the internet, and crowded out the nerds. You can still find all the weird, wacky stuff that used to be out there; I daresay there is far more of it, by volume, than there ever was. It just requires more effort to sift out the dross.

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