Rediscovering the open web

#OpenWeb is trending right now. At least, I suspect it is. It’s kind of hard to accurately determine what’s trending on the open, decentralized web. And that’s a good thing.

Regardless of whether or not it’s actually trending, there is a lot of talk about the open web right now. Much of this talk is inspired by the #DeleteFacebook movement that has come about in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. People are thinking about changing their online behaviour and much of the sheen has worn off of the corporate, centralized web. After a decade of consolidation — so much of the web have been centralized into the hands of just a few companies — people are no longer sure about the benefits of using the services provided by Facebook, Google, Twitter and a few other large web companies.

This rethinking of who we give our data to has been good for decentralized social media platforms. Mastodon and diaspora* are probably the two services that have benefited most from this.

I’ve largely moved away from centralized social media in favour of these decentralized services. I still maintain a Twitter account, but am not very active; and I still have a Facebook account, but I’m very seriously considering closing it (more due to the fact that it’s a life-suck and rather terrible for my mental health than as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, although I’ll admit the #DeleteFacebook movement has caused me to think more seriously about this).

But perhaps the bigger, more interesting thing about an attempt to return to the open, decentralized web is the possibility of a resurgence, however small, of personal blogs and websites.

I recently went through my RSS reader and unsubscribed from most (but not all) of the corporate blogs I was subscribed to. I wasn’t reading a lot of them anyway. In their place, I’ve slowly started adding personal blogs to my feed reader.

I’m finding that I enjoy reading personal blogs — or smaller “professional” blogs — for a number of reasons:

  • because they’re personal, I feel like I can better relate to and connect with the authors
  • they tend to publish less frequently than the corporate sites (they’re certainly not publishing a dozen or most posts every day); this helps prevent information overload and means I actually have enough time to read everything in my RSS feed, instead of just reading headlines and skipping the vast majority of articles
  • they’re unpredictable and provide unique perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise get to read, because the corporate blogs are often very polished and without much personality

In addition, I find reading personal blogs and engaging in the more intimate conversations that decentralized social media allows for has inspired me to blog more myself. For me, that’s enough of a reason to rediscover and re-embrace the open web.