Technology

The Cost of a Centralized Web

DHH on Sig­nal v. Noise:

Writ­ing for us is not a busi­ness, in any direct sense of the word. We write because we have some­thing to say, not to make mon­ey off page views, adver­tise­ments, or sub­scrip­tions. If some read­ers end up sign­ing up for Base­camp, that’s great. But if they just like to read and not buy, that’s also great.

Beyond that, though, we’ve grown ever more aware of the prob­lems with cen­tral­iz­ing the inter­net. Tra­di­tion­al blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all dis­cov­ered the ben­e­fits of social media and aggre­gat­ing plat­forms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all dis­cov­er the real costs and prob­lems brought by such centralization. […]

With the new take, we’re also try­ing to bring more of a clas­sic SvN style back to the site. Not just big, mar­que pieces, but lots of small­er obser­va­tions, quotes, links, and oth­er posts as well. In fact, the inten­tion is to lessen our depen­den­cy on Twit­ter too, and sim­ply turn Sig­nal v Noise into the inde­pen­dent home for all our thoughts and ideas – big or small.

I nev­er under­stood the move to Medi­um. Even though at the time they sup­port­ed using a cus­tom domain, their URL struc­ture and lack of design flex­i­bil­i­ty were deal break­ers for me from the get-go.

But I think David touch­es on some­thing sig­nif­i­cant here. These plat­forms that have tak­en over the web (Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram, even YouTube) have proven to be far from benign. I don’t think I ever stopped to con­sid­er what the price of free was, but a quick look at the dump­ster fire that social media has become quick­ly shows the cost. Not only has our pri­va­cy been invad­ed, and our data sold to the high­est bidder—these plat­forms” have become the breed­ing ground for racism, misog­y­ny, harass­ment, and every oth­er vile thing in our society.

And okay, I’m sure rea­son­able peo­ple work at these com­pa­nies. But for the most part, the peo­ple who are lead­ing strate­gic deci­sions are peo­ple in moral bank­rupt­cy who care more about pleas­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and rak­ing in their exces­sive bonus­es, than about the real-life con­se­quences of their tech­nol­o­gy decisions.

It’s crazy that all of this is the result of a cen­tral­ized web, but it’s there­fore crit­i­cal to be part of the move­ment to decen­tral­ize it. And that all starts by writ­ing on your own damn site.