Back in May, when I relaunched Notes from the Metaverse, I told you that this blog would now focus on three important areas related to the Open Web:
- Software tools that empower
- Defending net neutrality and universal access to the Internet
- For an open, decentralized web
I wanted to explain the concept of a decentralized web in a little more depth, and started out strong with a pair of posts. Between the normal summer activities, and a few other intervening projects, I’ve been slow in producing the remaining explainers. I’m fixing that now.
If you need a refresher, here are the first two posts:
The IndieWeb: Your Place for Your Content
In recent months, I’ve been learning a lot about the “IndieWeb,” an idea spread by folks who understand that the Web offers a unique platform where ordinary people without the financial clout of the 20th century publishing industry could still potentially reach millions with their ideas.
Starting with early sites like GeoCities, Tripod and AngelFire, anyone could create a “home page” on the web, and pontificate on whatever came to mind. When these services went bust in the dot-bomb era at the turn of the century, “Web 2.0” fostered the creation of personal blogs and the systems (like WordPress) that managed them.
Today, far too many of us who want to use the internet to communicate with friends, family and total strangers do so in “walled gardens” like Facebook. Services that treat its users as products to sell to advertisers. As I’ve mentioned before, Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times calls them the Frightful Five: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
IndieWeb is all about you controlling your content, connecting with people you want to connect with, with nobody using your stuff to get others to sell you things you may not want.
Why You Should Be Part of the IndieWeb
I’ve been saying and writing this for years: You need to own your ideas, and how you express them. Especially true for writers, but really true for everyone who wants to communicate on the internet. This idea is at the core of IndieWeb organization.
But to be honest, I’m not sure I can tell you why — and how — to join up any better than Chris Aldrich did in this piece on AltPlatform. So just go over there now.
What Does the IndieWeb Have to do with a Decentralized Web?
The IndieWeb is a bridge to the decentralized web we really need. Think of it as a way to get used to the idea that the Web should belong to you. Over time, perhaps you’ll break with being dependent on corporations to communicate. You’ll still be able to connect with all these other services and the people on them, but still have access to everything you contribute. Even if that service goes bust, or makes insufficient profits for its parent company, your stuff remains in your hands (or at least your hard drive).
The decentralized web needs different software, and different ways to connect up. It may take time, but the more people who stake out a homestead on the IndieWeb, the closer we’ll get to the real deal.
Coming soon: An Update on the Decentralized Web
A few weeks ago, the MIT Media Lab released a report on the state of the Decentralized Web, one year after the original Decentralized Web Summit. I’m reading this report now, and will comment on it in the next post.
Also coming soon, my redesigned, IndieWeb-ified website at MichaelMcCallister.com.
Are you on the IndieWeb yet? What problems do you anticipate if you decide to go indie? Is the IndieWeb (or the blogosphere) actually better than Facebook for virtual communities? Comments always appreciated.