The History of the Web logo

Unraveling the web's story

April 2019 Weblog: Giving the Web Its Spirit Back

The web’s history is always being written, and not just by me. So each month I like to go through and share bits of research and great posts that continue to explore the heart and history of the web. It’s my sites own personal weblog.

Bringing Back the Indie Web

With the many, many failures of popular social networks, there’s been a renewed efforts by some web practitioners to bring back the spirit of the Indie Web, a sentiment I think articulated nicely by Jeffrey Zeldman writing in A List Apart. His post, Nothing Fails Like Success is half reflection on the failures of the modern web and half a battle cry for a brighter future. A couple of months ago, Remy Sharp hit on a similar theme after working with a group of developers to bring back the WorldWideWeb browser at CERN, asking Where’s the Writable Web. The web was originally meant to be a place for creation and consumption, but somewhere along the way it smoothed out, and became a place of relative homogeneity. We would be wise to heed the words of Rachel White, and Keep the Internet Weird.

The Blogging Days of Yore

A few months ago, Emerson Dameron wrote a great piece for this site about his experiences with Zines in the early days of the Internet. That set me on a path of exploration to the days when writing on the web was a novelty. I stumbled upon a fascinating piece by Rebecca Schuman called The Gilded Age of (Unpaid) Internet Writing. Schuman explores the cobbled together zines of the pre-blogging web, and the clash and coalescence of personalities that churned out offbeat, strange, and never boring content, before anyone was paying attention. Of course blogging’s not going anywhere. And if you want to get excited about blogging (and to tie this to the Indie Web theme a bit), Ana Rodrigues explored her own fascinating journey with the medium in Blogging and me, with a helpful list of resources if you’re looking to dive in.

Twitter Threads That Should Be Blog Posts

This may just end up being a regular segment. Ever find an incredible Twitter thread that should probably be a blog post. I came across a really interesting one last month in honor of Women’s History Month. It’s all about Margaret Hamilton, a programmer who, among other things, wrote the software for the Apollo missions. At the time, software was considered less important and would often go to women, and Hamilton was one of the greats. Hamilton advocated for software to be taken more seriously, coining the phrase “software engineering” in the process. I won’t ruin it, but it was her software that made Apollo 11 a successful mission.