February 2021 Weblog: A Healthy Web

A report on the health of the Internet, and efforts to improve that health, bring us in to a new year.

The Health of the Web

An Internet health report from one of the web’s longest running companies seems important in any moment. For the year 2020, it is essential. Mozilla released their Internet Health report last month, a look at the state of Internet access and equability around the world. It exposes many things we know, that have only widened this year: the digital divide, the centralization of power in major tech companies, and the use of data harvesting to follow us around the Internet. But the report also focuses on stories and solutions. There are over 100 stories from people who work across the web in the report, with concrete solutions to address the biggest issues facing the web. I’ve read through several them. I hope to read more. I think you should too.

Spreading the Docs

Speaking of the web’s health, it isn’t worth much unless we have a way to teach people how to build with it. This month saw the launch of a project called Open Docs. It’s creators and staff will use their resources to contribute to public documentation about web technologies. It’s a notable announcement in the wake of the layoffs from Mozilla’s MDN team — maybe the most reliable and enduring sources of documentation on web technologies. Open Docs is focused on contributing to exisitng resources like MDN, rather than attempting to create a new platform, which seems like the right approach. Open Docs launched with a roster of sponsors, but you can contribute on Open Collective.

20 Years of Knolwedge

Last month, Wikipedia turned 20 years old. As an open, decentralized project, it is one of the most successful examples of a product that can only exist on the web. There’s a new oral history of Wikipedia, published in OneZero. It’s interesting to hear about all of the missteps that the Wikipedia team made, and how its creation is as much about chance and chances as anything else.

But that openness comes with tradeoffs. Even now, Wikpedia’s editors are 90% men. Last month, Jenny Singer in Glamour looks as how that trend is beginning to change thanks to a number of women-driven intiatiives) both from inside of Wikipedia and from indepedent editors around the world. The article focuses on hope and reflection on incredible stories, even as there is so much work to do.

Learning the IndieWeb

Anytime I see a great post about the IndieWeb — a growing movement of web creators dedicated to making their own space on the web through personal domains — I take a look. But when it includes a bit of web history as well, I have to share it. From Heydon Pickering a video on Why The Web, which doubles as a brief history lesson. Heydon’s been doing an incredible and ongoing series of videos over at Webbed Briefs.

And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration creating websites, here’s Diana demoing her latest single-div CSS project. She only 8, and her work (and her walk-through of it) is fantastic. (h/t Sara Soueidan)