I’ve been thinking about the state of the Internet following the Mark Zuckerberg in Congress debacle. About the art of making the web.
I remember when the Internet as I knew it, was comprised of small websites and forums linking to each other and collaborating on things. We didn’t have a few places we went to like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, where everyone was and where we consumed most of our content.
Instead we had Blog Rolls, RSS feeds, and search engines to help us discover new websites and content. The Internet back then was more unique, less cookie cutter. There were little neighbourhoods of websites and little bridges from one community to another. It was truly the World Wide Web, interconnected but independent.
Nowadays, for most people the Internet is primarily made up of social media apps and websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Sure, independent websites exist, but there seem to be a lot more monoliths that we log into instead of smaller independent websites.
Is that good? A few years ago, I would have said there’s nothing wrong with that. But now, with the way things are going and the way that information is being manipulated within these large networks..I’m leaning towards no.
I think one of the reasons these big networks gained mass appeal is because they lowered the bar to entry. You could just make a Facebook account and start posting pictures, statuses, notes, and connect with your friends. You didn’t need to know how to use HTML and CSS (the basic languages of the web), you just needed to know how to click (or touch) and type.
Instead of people hopping onto the internet to make and consume the web, websites like Facebook and Twitter started to steer people towards consuming the web only; the only making you could do was within the confined walls of these networks with what they allowed.
I live in Canada, a country full of pretty educated and literate people. But I’m starting to think that the education we should be getting is lacking. The world is increasingly going digital and yet, most people do not have the tools to create digitally: an education in coding, in the fundamental building blocks of the web (code, networks, the internet), and in the many other things that the digital world is comprised of.
This isn’t a finished, well-concluded thought. I just know that we need to do more. Those of us who do have the tools to create the web need to help make those tools more accessible.
We’re creating a course on WordPress theme development, so teaching is most definitely on my mind. And I’m wondering what more I can do to make the Internet a more open and adventurous place. Because what is happening right now doesn’t seem to be enough. We have to do more for ourselves and our communities, so we don’t get sucked into creating a uniform cookie cutter world.