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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.