The Web is Evil

The web has devoured so much of our lives that a lot of us have trouble imagining the things without it that used to exist without it.

I was born in 1998. For almost my first 20 years I thought that email meant webmail. You checked emails by going to gmail.com, I thought. One day my programming mentor asked me what email client I used, and I was like "email client? What's that? Why wouldn't I just go to gmail.com?"

Similarly, I grew up thinking that if you want to subscribe to updates on something, you enter your email address and you get emails when there's an update. In 2021 I discovered RSS and I was like "this is the best thing ever, why does anyone use email for subscriptions?"

I actually used XMPP for a brief part of my early teens, but forgot all about it because no one used it with me and I ended up using web platforms like Discord and Twitter to message friends for years, as if there were no alternatives, until I became radicalized against the web.

Thinking about these things is horrifying to me now. We're raised deeply indoctrinated by the web, to think the web is the only thing that exists, that everything is done through it, and that there's no other way.

The web must be destroyed. By "the web" I mean the set of technologies that comprise this platform: HTTP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc. Some people are well-aware of the problems with the modern web (it's slow, full of bugs and ads and user-hostile features and mostly dominated by predatory corporations) but think these problems are primarily social, that the solution is to just use the web differently rather than to abandon it. I contend they're wrong because the problems with the web are built into it at far too deep a level. I will give many examples:

We used to live in a world of protocols: POP, IMAP, IRC, XMPP, FTP, RSS, NNTP... for every broadly applicable thing (reading emails, chatting, downloading files), there was a protocol that left its users in control. You could use your own client with an interface you like, in whatever way suits you. Now you use the web for all those things, the details, the interface, the terms of service, all dictated to you. If you're not a programmer and you're not much older than me, you've probably never even heard of any of those protocols.

We need to take off the web goggles and bring back protocols. Almost everything we need can be done with better security, performance, and freedom, without the web, and for things that can't, we should create the missing alternatives. The web is evil!



This page was last modified 2022-01-03 16:57 (UTC).

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