Note: This page is a work in progress.
The basic idea of the web is to share information and connect it via web pages with hyperlinks.
A healthy web means an open web where web pages are linked to and from – often. They should also be accessible for free to be considered part of a connected world wide web.
Many sites exist on the internet that do not exist on the web according to those definitions:
- Inaccessible paywalled websites
- Web apps that act as walled gardens
- Websites that do not have links from other websites
Websites that do not link out to other websites sit somewhere in a grey zone but are still extremely problematic.
The web of today is in danger because of the effects of the growing number of sites that fit one of the criteria above. In addition, there are fewer people making websites due to reduced visibility. Yes, there are more websites and web pages than ever, but discovery is difficult. More and more people are opting to work for or on companies that describe the above instead of on open web projects where the goal is providing information. This is despite the fact that infosites can be an excellent career choice with tens of thousands of webmasters still commanding 6-7 figure yearly revenues from their websites.
The web of today exists as an abstraction layer of decentralized, centralized, and open-source technologies on the internet with the goal of providing and connecting information; it would be fair to surmise that the web is, in fact, an information ecosystem.
An information ecosystem experiencing issues would experience some of the following:
- Harder to find information
- Inaccessible information
- Growing misinformation
- Outdated information
- Poor quality information
Almost every person using the web today can attest that they have experienced one or more of the above with increasing frequency.
Once upon a time ‘surfing the web’ was easy and fun. You could find weird and wonderful sites just by clicking links provided on websites you already knew. Then search engines surged in popularity, and it got even easier, so we started to rely on them, and then they betrayed us.
The common misconception is that there are simply fewer websites out there today, but the opposite is true because there are more websites accessible online today than ever before.
The open web ecosystem that promotes discovery, diversity, and freedom of choice is not a vision that is shared by most big tech companies, including that one search engine in particular. What they want to do instead is create their own ecosystem, and they have been successful so far. The feudalism of the web today is a deliberate subversion of the founding principles of the world wide web.
Infosites are an increasingly rare species, especially the good ones. There has been little improvement in the technologies used for building infosites compared to those being made for web applications. There is a huge amount of opportunity to get involved with infosites either as a developer who wants to modernize old technologies such as webrings, as a developer who wants to come up with brand new ones or as someone who wants to provide accurate or entertaining information on the web for all.
If the freedom of information is important to you, then the web should be too.
You can create awareness about these issues, work on informational websites by building a publishing business, or something else. There are a lot worse things that you could be doing than helping build a healthier world wide web.
- The small web is beautiful | by Ben Hoyt
- Rediscovering the small web | by Parimal Satyal
- Against an increasingly user-hostile web | by Parimal Satyal
- Question everything on the Internet | by Akkshaya Varkhedi
- Building things that do just one thing | by Peter Askew
- UNIX Philosophy | on Wikipedia
- The Open-Source Software Bubble | by Baldur Bjarnason
- The transitory nature of content on the Internet | by Cheapskate
- There is no place like home: Why I love to blog | by Nicolas Magand
- Google Search Is Dying | by Dmitri Brereton
- The Open Secret of Google Search | by The Atlantic