It’s time to rebuild the web - O’Reilly Media
The web was never supposed to be a few walled gardens of concentrated content owned by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and a few other major publishers. It was supposed to be a cacophony of different sites and voices. And it would be easy to rebuild this cacophony—indeed, it never really died. There are plenty of individual sites out there still, and they provide some (should I say most?) of the really valuable content on the web. The problem with the megasites is that they select and present “relevant” content to us. Much as we may complain about Facebook, selecting relevant content from an ocean of random sites is an important service. It’s easy for me to imagine relatives and friends building their own sites for baby pictures, announcements, and general talk. That’s what we did in the 90s. But would we go to the trouble of reading those all those sites? Probably not. I didn’t in the 90s, and neither did you.
Yes, there would still be plenty of sites for every conspiracy theory and propaganda project around; but in a world where you choose what you see rather than letting a third party decide for you, these sites would have trouble gaining momentum.
I don’t want to underestimate the difficulty of this project, or overestimate its chances of success. We’d certainly have to get used to sites that aren’t as glossy or complex as the ones we have now. We might have to revisit some of the most hideous bits of the first-generation web, including those awful GeoCities pages. We would probably need to avoid fancy, dynamic websites; and, before you think this will be easy, remember that one of the first extensions to the static web was CGI Perl. We would be taking the risk that we’d re-invent the same mistakes that brought us to our current mess. Simplicity is a discipline, and not an easy one. However, by losing tons of bloat, we’d end up with a web that is much faster and more responsive than what we have now. And maybe we’d learn to prize that speed and that responsiveness.