The State of the Web - Off topic
venam
Hello nixers,
"The State of The Web" is a topic I've been circling around for the past year but that we've never had a discussion about on the forums. I'm curious to know what are your opinions on this.

To sum it up bluntly I'm referring to the whole media talk about advertisement, PR, public manipulation, privacy, anonymity, taking responsibility for the effect of web technology, gdpr, digital identity, and everything related.

For reference I'll post here everything that was already in the newsletter:

I thought I wouldn't post about this anymore
https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publicati...eally-need

Yes, another "state of the web, state of the mind" piece, a good summary. Tools are made to be used; when a knife is used to kill someone, or let's say it better "when someone uses a knife to kill someone", is it the knife that's at fault or the person? Should we have regulations that made knives harmless because of that? Can you enter anywhere with a knife on you? Wouldn't you be looked at funny if you were walking around with hundreds of knives in your pocket selling them to anyone passing by? What about building extremely dangerous knives with advertisements on how lethal they can be? This is an analogy, a bad one but a relatable one. "When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.." Have fun remembering the awkward and uninformed questioning of Zuckerberg, the over-used-by-career-politician-to-gain-votes "What about the CHILDREN" arguments, and the unexpected surprise by the general audience over their unawareness over the choice of their digital tools usage "because they're free". Let's quote from the article "These are the broad outlines of the tech backlash. But against what, exactly, is the backlash? Is it against the ascendency of technology as the driving principle of modern society?"




Spirit of the law
https://medium.com/@mdrahony/are-pgp-key...1ddd709d3e

Remember the whois thing in "State of the web..." of issue 75, well now it's bringing that stuff back at pgp servers. gpg --search-keys 'nothisrealaddress@someoneelses_emailaddress.notreal'



State of the web...
https://medium.com/@cvitullo/a-brief-his...8409e48812
http://nymag.com/selectall/2018/05/i-don...ymore.html
https://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/2018/05/12/gdpr/
https://makefrontendshitagain.party/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/16/..._shambles/
https://jacquesmattheij.com/gdpr-hysteria

Some thoughts about web technology, new laws affecting it (less than one week left for GDPR to take effect), the ad-revenue business model, and web content.




..State of the mind
https://librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com...es-matter/
https://medium.com/@richardnfreed/the-te...52870464ce
https://www.mathwashing.com/

Related to issue 72 "Ludites or not" and maybe even "Pedantic and semantic" in 66. I'll step aside and leave you to judge.



Adblock & the web
https://medium.com/@trybravery/please-st...280e76c8e7

I'm not a fan of adblockers, not because I like ads but because of the whole drama and politics that happens behind them. I'd rather use a full only allow whitelisted cross requests addons.




State of the web (continue)...
https://0xadada.pub/2018/05/01/against-facebook/

One last article for the ride.




State of the web (continue...)
https://medium.com/@anildash/the-missing...a490ae5cbc
https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/its-time-t...ld-the-web
http://nymag.com/selectall/2018/04/an-ap...lt-it.html
https://www.feld.com/archives/2018/04/th...-high.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/fashi...ilent.html

I think I've shared so much related to this topic this year that I don't need to put a summary. I'm glad those conversations are taking place, this is a historical moment, I hope 2018 will be remember as a year that reflected this. The four articles stand in pair, the second ones in the pair are reply to the first. While the first pair is more or less technical, the second one is pungent with technology and social network mysticism. I'm inserting those links here but if you want relief check the series "The WWW is awesome" and "Beauty is found in details" I've started in the Random section. The last link doesn't seem directly encroached with the others but it is, a beautiful peace.




Futurist state of the internet
http://web.archive.org/web/1997070219252...info31.htm

Can we predict the future, probably not but it's fun to go back in time and check what people were looking for.




Web literacy and more
https://mozilla.github.io/content/web-lit-whitepaper/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_dark_age
https://archive.org/about/

A Mozilla initiative related to literacy and contribution in the ever-changing world of technology we live in. This is related to "Digital and technological literacy" in issue 65.




Digital and technological literacy
http://www.coding2learn.org/blog/2013/07...computers/

We had quite the discussion about this rant thread during the week so I thought of sharing it so that you can have the same discussion (once more) with your peers.




Facebook
All the clickbaity articles that have been spammed in the media the past few days

I don't think I have to say anything other then point you back to other issues in order, have fun going back in the archive: "SSI" 13 , "Social Networks" 20 , "It's leaking from everywhere" 26 , "Digital Identity" 27 , "More on digital identity" 36 , "In need of a website to understand a process that should be simple" 39 , "Well researched and timely articles" and "Differential privacy" 47 , "A continuation of last week "Random"" 48 , "Wear some colorful tight pants and continue on this crazy train with Ozzy!" 50 , "Propaganda" and "A timely article" 52 , "Are you tired of the articles of two weeks ago because there's more" 53 , "Create a category and people will get attached to it" 55 , "Will Geocities websites make a comeback?" 56 , "Compartmentalization" 62 , "A story on privacy" 65




A story on privacy
https://medium.com/the-ferenstein-wire/t...614c26059e

A continuation on issue 63 "Privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity". This article emphasize how the perception of privacy evolved through time.




Privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity
https://breakthroughanalysis.com/2017/04...who-knows/
https://www.soldierx.com/tutorials/Cyber...ity-Online
https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/bl...important/

For the average person those terms might not look like they have a different meaning but they do and this is quite important to put forward what exactly we're talking about. Related to issue 47 "Differential privacy" and all the digital identity related ones.





Will Geocities websites make a comeback?
https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/28/1679...tinyletter
https://flowerhack.dreamwidth.org/3230.html

State of the internet, again, nostalgia is growing. The cringiness aside I like this article.




Are you tired of the articles of two weeks ago because there's more
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/28...ver_again/
https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/11/1676...rt-society

Yes, I'm talking about the "state of the internet" type of articles. Tighten your belt because we've actually advanced in the discussion. We've now reached the Messiah stage where if someone has "insights" on the matter or "disconnects" they get a surge of visions of the world and are now entitled to extract facts from subjectivity. Kind of admirable how the interviewers and spectators are captivated by the paranoia and conspirational theories, I guess that's one deep dark perverse pleasure we have. Well done guys! (Please tell me if I'm stretching those too far...)




A timely article
http://www.paulgraham.com/identity.html

Maybe if every online arguments went that way.




Propaganda
http://250bpm.com/blog:108

"We've been influenced", "We're not in control of our minds". Blame the media all you want...




Wear some colorful tight pants and continue on this crazy train with Ozzy!
http://nautil.us/issue/52/the-hive/moder...-free-will

Yet again on this railroad of "the state of the internet" articles. Like it or not it seems like a trend and it's fun to watch everyone going through the "Oh I just woke up to what the internet is about". You can't blame the trend, once you learn something you start to see it everywhere and want to shout your lungs out. Digital literacy is going up, non-technical persons are starting to be interested in the details. For us it's old news. It's also interesting how internet services are regarded as God-like entities that influences us and that we have to please, in the end the writers of those articles have to realize they can't anthropomorphize them, they can't consider them as carrier of the holy good will for the masses. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. This is not the internet this is their new religion; blaming it for the good days and bad days. But can we critic this behavior in a world that is frightening, slowly turning nihilistic, a world where its people are looking for a Leviathan to bring back the order.




A continuation of last week "Random"
http://www.filfre.net/2017/10/a-net-befo...ent-rogue/
http://tttthis.com/rememberwebsites.php/

I wasn't sure last week if I should put the web rants in the Unix section or not. I think they fit somehow. Those two articles related to the "state and birth of the internet" + nostalgia kind of blog posts that are popular these days. Don't get me wrong, I love this kind of discussions, apart from the rosy retrospection there's some truth in them especially the kind of discoveries you make. The first link has a lot of politics and marketing topics, if you don't like that then skip it.





Privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity
https://breakthroughanalysis.com/2017/04...who-knows/
https://www.soldierx.com/tutorials/Cyber...ity-Online
https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/bl...important/

For the average person those terms might not look like they have a different meaning but they do and this is quite important to put forward what exactly we're talking about. Related to issue 47 "Differential privacy" and all the digital identity related ones.




Differential privacy
https://www.infoq.com/articles/different...vacy-intro

Your dose of new security topic for the week - this one is fascinating.




Well researched and timely articles
https://staltz.com/the-web-began-dying-i...s-how.html
https://www.neustadt.fr/essays/against-a...stile-web/

This summarizes what has been happening on the web the past few years.




In need of a website to understand a process that should be simple
http://www.deletefacebook.com/

Soon we'll have groups that meetup anonymously to talk about their Facebook addiction... Wait, does it already exist?




More on digital identity
https://blog.cryptographyengineering.com...ncryption/

If you've been following this newsletter for some time you would've noticed that I've been adding links related to digital identity, some philosophical and some technical. This one is about the crypto future.




Digital Identity
https://pages.nist.gov/800-63-3/
https://www.forgerock.com/

Big and important words in there and the concept is being brought to life as we speak.




It's leaking from everywhere
https://robinlinus.github.io/socialmedia-leak/

Fast close the sink.





Social Networks
https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/...-facebook/
https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/...to-action/
http://particularvirtue.blogspot.com/201...paces.html
https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/...nd-others/
http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/2017041...drug-abuse
https://blog.mrtnrdl.de/why-i-quit-faceb...activated/
https://stallman.org/facebook.html
https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/04/08/th...-peopling/

This keeps popping up everywhere! Are you on social networks? Why? Let's discuss that. What's a social network?



SSI
http://ewanvalentine.io/how-to-never-complete-anything/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13816627
https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solu...r-everyone

Why complicate things? The software industry and programmers of today are looking for too much achievements, stacking the "green blocks" on GH, looking for confirmation of their existence, checking graphs and statistics about their "progress", wanting to raise on the "SSI", social selling index.
Let's slow down a bit! Small changes for a small group is more valuable than running against titans
If it is useful to someone and kind of serves the purpose then that is enough for a start.

So nixers, what is your opinion on the "State of the Web".
Steph
It's funny that you posted this today, because an hour ago I just deleted my facebook account.

I don't have time today to read the links, but I'll come back and do this thing properly.

In the meantime have two cents: I'm tired of ugly, flashy, slow, ad-ridden, pop-up, content-recycling, free-ebook-mailing-list, infinite-scroll, lowest-common-denominator-appealing, many-fonted, autoplaying-video, social-media-linked, websites.

I know there are bastions of simplicity and good design, but they are by far the minority. Here's a quote from WIRED:
The web is Doomed.

Today the average webpage is about the same size, data-wise, as the classic computer game Doom, according to software engineer Ronan Cremin.

A compressed copy of the installer for the shareware version of Doom takes up about 2.39MB of space. Today's average webpage, meanwhile, requires users to download about 2.3MB worth of data, according to HTTP Archive, a site that tracks website performance and the technologies they use.

https://www.wired.com/2016/04/average-we...inal-doom/

One other thing. Maybe I'm being idealistic here, but I think that something great was lost when the web became so centralized. People post photos to instagram, their lives to facebook or twitter, their opinions on reddit, and on and on. Gone are the personalized websites, the pages people would make for themselves. There is so much lost when you compare the standard layout of a facebook profile to the personality that you can convey from a website of your own. Being able to change a header image is nothing compared to selecting font, colors, any other css element that fits your personality.

I'll use an analogy here. We went from an ocean full of little boats, each unique and personally crafted, to identical webpage cells on a cruise ship.

It's true that centralized websites eliminate the barrier for entry, and allow people who don't care enough to make/host their own site still have an online presence. I just think it's sad that as the web grows, traffic continues to funnel into only a few monstrous websites.
budRich
I don't think there are less good web now then it used to be. Just a lot more bad. There is not really any 1998 equivalent of modern facebook, twiter, amazon, youtube etc. Also a lot of "modern" or new websites and services is much less bloated then they where, say 10-15 years ago, due to keeping everything optimized for lowpowered devices with limited network (either slow or data-plans), these devices are called phones for some reason, stupid people sometimes even call them smart phones.

Back in the day, most of the users of internet (who where of a similar demographic and culture), didn't contribute more then a comment in some "guestbook". Content was mostly written by some geek who knew how to make and publish a website. Now everyone can contribute, and the demographics now is more or less everyone, not only western computer scientist who like phish and twin peaks. So for us, who are of that demographic, the web felt much comfier back then.

But as I said in the beginning, it is not that much worse, in many ways much better. Many more high quality articles and blogposts are created, even if they are not seen on facebook they are written and read, by the same type of people who would have read and written them back in 1998, and probably some more. We now have collaborative wikis, and things like github/lab/whatever is just great imo.

Just apply a filter, /ignore the bs, logout, and everything is fine.

Do you listen to music you don't like?
Do you eat food you think are disgusting?
Do you consume information, that makes you angry, sad or disappointed of the web (or humanity)...

edit.

I guess my point is, maybe we shouldn't focus on what's bad so much and instead focus on creating more good. I don't think facebook will persist for ever, maybe not google either and entities like those usually fall by their own mistakes (Bell labs, IBM, Microsoft, yahoo, myspace, atari, commodore, sega, etc etc. (i know, in one way these where all very different companies, and some are still very much alive today, but they where once the biggest players losing a single game and where removed from a market over night.), this will probably happen to google, facebook and twitter as well.

Steph: i don't see any link to your homepage in your profile ;)
jkl
The web has always been the least impressive internet service. (Usually, "colorful" and "interactive" are the exact opposites of "interesting" to me.)

(09-09-2018, 11:34 AM)Steph Wrote: Here's a quote from WIRED:
The web is Doomed.

And Wired's web team does nothing to improve the situation with their bizarre website.

(09-09-2018, 08:32 AM)venam Wrote: So nixers, what is your opinion on the "State of the Web".

I wonder why this topic keeps coming up in the past few weeks. At least bloggers found that blogs have ruined the web (I, II), so there's that. - The web can be made bearable by using RSS (which is repeatedly cited even in German political newspapers as "a solution". I wonder what happened...), but that's limited.

One of the problems I see is that we "tech people" lost our connection to "web devs" long ago. They don't understand why we fear their new shiny JavaScript toys. Everyone who does not misuse his web browser as an "embedded operating system" is a caveman to them. I am randomly lurking in a larg(ish) web dev forum and it is even worse than I described it.

I surely hope it will all implode soon.
Dworin
(09-09-2018, 11:34 AM)Steph Wrote: ... ugly, flashy, slow, ad-ridden, pop-up, content-recycling, free-ebook-mailing-list, infinite-scroll, lowest-common-denominator-appealing, many-fonted, autoplaying-video, social-media-linked, websites./

With some obvious allowances for technical possibilities, I don't see how this is fundamentally different from the situation in printed media. Yet we look for (text)books that are meaningful, newspapers that have reliable content etc. On the whole, we should be mighty glad that the printing press exists and by analogy, yes, that the internet and even the web exist.

Appeal to the lowest common denominator was always to be expected, purely based on the numbers but likewise, there will always be a space for quality content.

I'm sure facebook will disappear, perhaps even soon, but don't get your hopes up. It will be replaced by something more trashy. Best is to be selective ourselves and look for what's good and hopefully contribute to that. And don't forget, real life happens offline.
venam
Maybe I should reiterate my personal stance on that topic as it may not be apparent from the commentary on the newsletter links.

(09-09-2018, 10:08 PM)jkl Wrote: I wonder why this topic keeps coming up in the past few weeks. At least bloggers found that blogs have ruined the web (I, II), so there's that.
As you say, that topic has kept resurfacing more and more, if not every week, on blogs and news websites. It's not a new subject of discussion but it seems like this last year was especially full of it. It sort of reached a high point when the public/media went nuts over the date when the GDPR was going to be applied and when Zuckerberg went to court.

So by sharing those articles I wanted to show how the ones using the web think about the web (wide definition here, anything web tech, or life on the web).

In my opinion this discussion is a public awakening to what they weren't usually paying attention to, a wake up call. Especially when it comes to digital identity, what it means, and how we should be responsible for it.

There were a lot of cringy post aimed towards the average joe to spread fear, there were a lot of finger pointing, lots of stupid and interesting posts. One thing is sure everyone agrees that a click-economy leads to shitty results and that niche well made and thoughtful content is the way to go. That trend also picked the interest of some revisiting sites like geocity , or RSS, or some other kind of artistic or very personal content platform. Trying to run away from pages infested with ads and bloatwares. As an aside, nostalgia is a marketing scheme that is popular these days, reselling whatever existed in someone's childhood be it movie or tech or anything.

However, as you know, for the average person the web, even the whole internet, equates with social networking or business. This is why there have been a lot of work on spreading web-literacy by organization such as Mozilla. But this is what the web has become a place to sell things and this is the fuel that runs it. If there was no money there would be no internet.

Remember the Net before the web, it was also a corporate space, and there was certainly no such thing as "net neutrality".

Overall I think this whole "state of the web" talk is great stuffs, it's forcing the general public to make a bit more effort to understand what the web technology represent and to take more deliberate choices when they use it.
danieljamespost
I entirely agree with the sentiment of what most all of you have said. The internet as a widely consumed technology is only about 20 years old. With the constant onslaught of development since that time, it is no wonder that most of the web is filled up by people exploiting the next shiny object. With the ubiquity of this type of media, it seems almost inevitable that there will be a return to a focus on content and simplicity as a method of differentiating oneself from the competition. Hell, even records have made a comeback to some degree.

My biggest fear is the seeming open embrace of selling ones privacy for convenience. Despite the GDPR and the privacy problems with Facebook and Google, it appears as if most people have become comfortable with this exchange. The problem is that people are so used to this monetization strategy that it will be difficult for new services to change consumer habits. As much as I love services like Mastodon that embody the ethics I'd love to see, I doubt they will ever have a fraction of the success of a Facebook or Twitter. Hopefully they can prove me wrong.
Steph
(09-09-2018, 11:12 PM)Dworin Wrote: With some obvious allowances for technical possibilities, I don't see how this is fundamentally different from the situation in printed media. Yet we look for (text)books that are meaningful, newspapers that have reliable content etc. On the whole, we should be mighty glad that the printing press exists and by analogy, yes, that the internet and even the web exist.

I agree totally with this sentiment. My issue is that the technical nature of the web allows for more annoyance, intrusion, and distraction than print media ever could offer.

Other than that: I totally agree with everything you said, and you said it much more eloquently than I could have.




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