PKGW: The Small Web and Science

submited by
Style Pass
2024-05-15 18:30:05

Over the past few years I’ve been noticing more and more of a discourse about the “small web” in my online communities. It’s cool to see! I mentioned the concept in an earlier post and thought I might write a few more words about it today.

As far as I can tell, this 2020 essay by Parimal Satyal seems to be the origin of “the small web” as a particular term. Nowadays, I see a lot of other highly similar ideas percolating around that use slightly different language: the humane web; the indie web; the rewilding of the internet. To be honest, you probably don’t even need to click these links to guess the broad arguments these essays are making. The modern web has become corporatized, user-hostile, siloed, sterile; it used to be better, and it would be nice if it became better again. Small-web advocates generally encourage people to make their own websites and to do so in a way that consciously rejects the pressures of the attention economy.

Now, if you have an ounce of self-awareness and you find yourself fixating on how things used to be better, you start getting worried. Am I just nostalgia-tripping? I’m not going to try to construct a detailed argument but I think that we can be pretty confident that there’s more going on here than some people being having fondness for how things were when they were younger. Well within my lifetime, the web has gone from being a new invention to becoming an inescapable element of everyday life for billions of people. The modern web is a genuinely different thing than it was in the “good old days”, however you choose to define them (and however “good” you feel the old days truly were).

Leave a Comment