Is the web worth =?UTF-8?Q?it=3F?=

I had myself a little Tweetstorm this morning about the subtle tyranny enjoyed by the companies that make web browsers. It’s hard for me to explain in a way that feels accurate and complete to me, but the tweets do an OK job.

It’s thinking about interlocking dependencies like this that make me think about giving up web development all together and focusing on writing code for something that isn’t so entangled in the socio-economic-political structure that makes writing good software on the web such a quagmire.

The problem is that unless what I’m doing is going to replace the web, it’s just escapism, which isn’t a way to live your life (even if it’s necessary now and again).  So it’s not a decision about working on the web or working on something else, it’s a question of working on the web or replacing it with something else.

My frustrations with the web are mostly related to it in terms of being an application platform, and there are certainly better ones out there.  The problem is that the web is more than just an application platform, and so when considering replacing it, so what it comes down to is this: even if it’s a frustrating application platform, do the other things the web provides make it worth the frustration?

I’m not sure.  I used to think the answer was obviously yes, but as the web moves closer and closer to a small group of content farms owned by an even smaller group of companies, and away from the constellation of independent, interesting and creative websites I feel less and less like it’s worth preserving, and more and more like it’s devolving into an interesting old tool that served us well but has become obsolete.  Like when a counterculture becomes a product.

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// jjg

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