Splitting the Web

Message ID
DKIM signature
Download raw message
by Ploum on 2023-08-01


There’s an increasing chasm dividing the modern web. On one side, the 
commercial, monopolies-riddled, media-adored web. A web which has only 
one objective: making us click. It measures clicks optimise clicks, 
generates clicks. It gathers as much information as it could about us 
and spams every second of our life with ads, beep, notifications, 
vibrations, blinking LEDs, background music and fluorescent titles.

A web which boils down to Idiocracy in a Blade Runner landscape, a 
complete cyberpunk dystopia.

Then there’s the tech-savvy web. People who install adblockers or 
alternative browsers. People who try alternative networks such as 
Mastodon or, God forbid, Gemini. People who poke fun at the modern web 
by building true HTML and JavaScript-less pages.

Between those two extremes, the gap is widening. You have to choose your 
camp. When browsing on the "normal web", it is increasingly required to 
disable at least part of your antifeatures-blockers to access content.

Most of the time, I don’t bother anymore. The link I clicked doesn’t 
open or is wrangled? Yep, I’m probably blocking some important third- 
party JavaScript. No, I don’t care. I’ve too much to read on a day 
anyway. More time for something else. I’m currently using kagi.com as my 
main search engine on the web. And kagi.com comes with a nice feature, a 
"non-commercial lens" (which is somewhat ironic given the fact that Kagi 
is, itself, a commercial search engine). It means it will try to 
deprioritize highly commercial contents. I can also deprioritize 
manually some domains. Like facebook.com or linkedin.com. If your post 
there, I’m less likely to read you. I’ve not even talked about the few 
times I use marginalia.nu.

Something strange is happening: it’s not only a part of the web which is 
disappearing for me. As I’m blocking completely google analytics, every 
Facebook domain and any analytics I can, I’m also disappearing for them. 
I don’t see them and they don’t see me!

Think about it! That whole "MBA, designers and marketers web" is now 
optimised thanks to analytics describing people who don’t block 
analytics (and bots pretending to be those people). Each day, I feel 
more disconnected from that part of the web.

When really needed, dealing with those websites is so nerve breaking 
that I often resort to… a phone call or a simple email. I signed my 
mobile phone contract by exchanging emails with a real person because 
the signup was not working. I phone to book hotels when it is not 
straightforward to do it in the web interface or if creating an account 
is required. I hate talking on the phone but it saves me a lot of time 
and stress. I also walk or cycle to stores instead of ordering online. 
Which allows me to get advice and to exchange defective  items without 
dealing with the post office.

Despite breaking up with what seems to be "The Web", I’ve never received 
so many emails commenting my blog posts. I rarely had as many 
interesting online conversations as I have on Mastodon. I’ve tenth of 
really insightful contents to read every day in my RSS feeds, on Gemini, 
on Hacker News, on Mastodon. And, incredibly, a lot of them are on very 
minimalists and usable blogs. The funny thing is that when non-tech 
users see my blog or those I’m reading, they spontaneously tell me how 
beautiful and usable they are. It’s a bit like all those layers of 
JavaScript and flashy css have been used against usability, against 
them. Against us. It’s a bit like real users never cared about "cool 
designs" and only wanted something simple.

It feels like everyone is now choosing its side. You can’t stay in the 
middle anymore. You are either dedicating all your CPU cycles to run 
JavaScript tracking you or walking away from the big monopolies. You are 
either being paid to build huge advertising billboards on top of yet 
another framework or you are handcrafting HTML.

Maybe the web is not dying. Maybe the web is only splitting itself in 

You know that famous "dark web" that journalists craves to write about? 
(at my request, one journalist once told me what "dark web" meant to him 
and it was "websites not easily accessible through a Google search".) 
Well, sometimes I feel like I’m part of that "dark web". Not to buy 
drugs or hire hitmen. No! It’s only to have a place where I can have 
discussions without being spied and interrupted by ads.

But, increasingly, I feel less and less like an outsider.

It’s not me. It’s people living for and by advertising who are the 
outsiders. They are the one destroying everything they touch, including 
the planet. They are the sick psychos and I don’t want them in my life 
anymore. Are we splitting from those click-conversion-funnel-obsessed 
weirdos? Good riddance! Have fun with them.

But if you want to jump ship, now is the time to get back to the simple 
web. Welcome back aboard!

To unsubscribe, send an email to ~lioploum/en+unsubscribe@lists.sr.ht
Reply to thread Export thread (mbox)