Re-learning the internet

Tags:
  • #sapling

💻

I need to pitch this to a publication but I’m gonna write it here for now.

Every so often I’ll see a post or an article either a) pointing out how the internet isn’t fun anymore or b) showcasing a small part of the internet someone’s created, then questioning why the internet isn’t fun like this anymore. So-called Web 1.0 sites (or those that are meant to look like them) are dug up and put display with the question “why aren’t we doing this anymore?”, as if no one knows the answer.

The thing is, I agree! A lot of the time I spend on the internet each day is unpleasant. Daily experiences include:

  • Refusing to accept all cookies, so I have to click ‘customise’ and then toggle off the various cookie categories before hitting save.
  • Being suggested ~content~ I don’t care for on social media apps.
  • Being unable to view a tweet because I’m not logged into Twitter (same goes for Facebook/Instagram)
  • Server-side scripting and bloated code slowing down load times.
  • Sharepoint generally just being a POS.
https://www.tumblr.com/lizzibennet/693863080238743552/opens-news-article-closes-three-pop-up-ads-backs

It sucks! But what drives me even more nuts is when people complain about this despite having some power to change their experience with the internet. I specifically say some power, because while we can’t fix it overnight, we can, like, delete Instagram off our phones with no real negative consequence.

We also have the power to learn more about the internet – and I think this is where my key point lies. Most times in life, our love for something only deepens when we choose to learn more about it. But over time, we’ve taken the building blocks for granted. Learning HTML by customising a Myspace page, for instance, is a thing of the past, and it’s fast declining on Tumblr, a place I’ve frequented for over a decade (don’t judge).

Convenience is king now. WYSIWYG editors are the primary interface encounter by anyone who wants to build a website. The hood isn’t sealed shut, but it’s definitely less easier to get it open. This is all by design of course: Problematising the complexities of the web and suggesting a ready-made, out-of-the-box product instead means more business or brand-association.

We need to learn about how the web works, and I mean more than HTML. We need to know about web servers (Apache, Nginx, self-hosting), the ubiquity of Javascript, what a DNS registry is, and basic protocols like HTTP. It’s only when we have a renewed knowledge of a technology that now engrosses us will we take what we know and create our own sites; our own [[ digital-gardens|gardens ]], tools, forums or blogs. This is in turn how we fall back in love with the web, albeit with a little more critical thinking involved.

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