OBispo's Website

05 April 2022

Why does this exist?

In this introductory post for the weblog part of my website, I'd like to elucidate the motivation behind its development.

Recently, it is crystal clear that the modern world wide web is dominated by centralized, oligarchic enterprises, collectively known as The Big Tech. One might use the Pareto Principle to state that 80% of the internet traffic revolve around 20% of the available websites, but that might be a rough estimate.

Still, most of the internet is pretty much unknown by the general public. Even worse: reaching that portion of the web is getting more difficult due to the structure and modus operandi of modern web platforms and search engines.

This weblog will explore the evolution of the internet to the present-day scenario, as well as how to rediscover and possibly reclaim its decentralized nature.

Table of contents:

The days of old

In its infancy, the internet was populated by proper websites around different topics. Places like blogs, forums, image boards, etc. To each topic, its own determined place in the nexus, with different domains each. An almost completely decentralized experience.

But the process of creating websites demanded financial costs, technical knowledge and time. For instance, if a chef decided to open up a cooking blog and publish their recipes there (and didn't knew or had the time to code it and configure it from scratch), they would need to hire someone with expertise to get that site up and running.

Tools like Blogger and Geocities aided less technologically inclined people to upload and host their own website, with the possibility to upload images, gifs and custom themes. This sparked very different designs for websites, giving rise to a more diverse web surfing experience.

Also, the internet was more compatible. Protocols such as IMAP and XMPP allowed users from different service providers to communicate with one another easily. People using Google Talk could chat with people on Facebook, for example. RSS feeds made sure that new posts on different websites were available in one single application, putting the user in charge of choosing which content to consume.

All that was fine, until it wasn't...

Present day; Present time

In the beginning of the 2010s, the internet was a fine blend between present day and the days of old. Big Tech companies already existed and were popular, but their "evil" intent was not completely evident. Individuality and expressivity still flourished, as the polarization induced by modern algorithms wasn't present, and the more radical opinions were still confined to their isolated communities.

The ability to create pages inside social platforms, such as Facebook, initiated the slow death of traditional blogging. Twitter introduced and popularized the idea of mirco-blogging, confining all your thoughts and ideas about some topic to about 140 characters. Instagram was just being born with a focus on photo publishing, and its iOS exclusivity made it something for "the elites".

For the rest of the decade, these platforms became increasingly more prevalent. Their widespread use, popularized by the increasing accessibility of smartphones, made them the powerful, almost omnipresent entities of the internet.

Also, the convenience of having a platform that comprehends a wide range of users, has tools to gather, probe and manage an audience and an attractive monetization strategy for content creators corroborated to their universal adoption as definitive platforms for not only social interaction, but also business models.

All that centralization of the internet wasn't a problem for most people, until it was...

The Metapocalipse

In October 4th, 2021, Facebook (now Meta) and its subsidiaries became unavailable for a period of six to seven hours. During this period, not only many users fled to other social media and messaging apps such as Twitter, Reddit and Telegram, but many enterprises and government agencies were directly impacted by its downtime.

The great lesson after this episode is to not put all eggs in one basket. Decentralization needs to not only be inherent to the structure of the service, but also to the behavior of the user. If someone runs their main business operations in one centralized platform alone, they are more prone to be affected during a shortage of that particular service.

Hence, this is why

Ever since I started to use the internet, I've pondered about having my own website. However, the means for achieving such a feat have been a mystery for me. Web site development always seemed like "black magic", much like most people viewed technology throughout history. Now, thanks to online resources like Neocities and W3Schools, I can learn something new while exercising my creativity.

I'd recommend anyone to write blog posts about themselves, their views on the world, preferably with decentralization in mind. In fact, as I'm writing the conclusion to this very post, I'm keeping a record of what's on my mind, safe in my hard disk storage while uploading a copy to the web in my Neocities-hosted website. And, who knows? Maybe I'll host it in my own server someday...