šŸŒ± Seedling thought

26 of 365, Pining for a simple internet

planted on in: 365 day writing project, 365DayProject and Old Web.
~362 words, about a 2 min read.

This is day twenty-six of my attempt to write something, anything, every day for 365 days in a row; currently 7.12% complete with a four-day streak.

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I have been terminally online since I first accessed the Web over 56K dialup in 1998, so roughly five years after the World Wide Web became available to the broader public. I have discussed the #OldWeb in a few notes on this website however, I have also been working on an entire series of essays dedicated to the Old Web, a simpler time when BBS's where still the top result on search engines and search engines themselves where rare and new!

I'm not alone in pining for a simple internet, there has been a small Renaissance of content served over the predecessor to HTTP: The Gopher Protocol. Alongside that The Gemini Protocol, a re-imagination of Gopher for the modern internet was introduced in 2019 with the specification last modified in 2022. Gemini has a certain appeal to it and therefore a thriving community of software and users has grown.

For me however, I think I pine for simplicity overall. My own website is minimalist by design, I am primarily drawn to functionality over form and consolidation via path of least resistance. I find todays internet to be a fragmented series of corporate walled gardens; the best example of which is what's largely replaced IRC and Forums. Way back in 1998 you could access thousands upon thousands of chat rooms with one IRC client and the same with forums and one internet browser.

Today, while still operational and alive, IRC has for the most part been replaced by walled-off systems such as Discord, Slack, Teams and Gitter. Now if I want support from one project I have to join a Slack group, a Discord group for another, Gitter for another: that is three clients doing the exact same job one did and did extremely well more than two decades ago!

I could elaborate, and I might in a future essay but for now i'll conclude with this: replacing simplicity with convenience comes at a cost, both financially and in interoperability.

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