The slow shift towards a decentralized web. For activists from India/ Asia seeking privacy and a safe place to share information, check out Freenet. Started by EFF's Mike Godwin:



+ I'm old enough to remember the Web of the 1990s/ 2000s.
It was a maze. You followed hypertext links, stumbled into forums and early troll-caves, used Slashdot and GoTo, experimented with LiveJournal and Blogger.

It wasn't safe, it was filled with weirdness, appealed heavily to geeks and loners. Being on the web in that era was a serious trip.

But it wasn't corporate. It wasn't the tool of major governments, yet. It was defiantly decentralised, and when you were online...

... you felt free.

@nilanjanaroy Oh my! I had just graduated from Class XII, and home for five months before pushing off to college. As a boarding school student, I barely had friends in my home city. The unforgettable sound of the dial-up connection opening up my world, was the most exciting thing in my life then.
I also met one of my closest friends in a Yahoo chatroom back then. We've seen each other through relationships, heartbreaks, bad grades in college, terrific jobs, marriages, divorces, and what not.

@nilanjanaroy even till 2010, the Internet was a place of free flow of information and genuine exploration for the curious mind. But now the Internet is become - FB, Google, and Twitter.

@Shawshank One of my favourite pieces on this subject, by Hossein Derakshan. He was jailed as a political prisoner in Iran. When he was freed six years later, the world and the web had changed beyond recognition.

@Shawshank @nilanjanaroy
It occurs to some to simply never visit any of those sites or submit to their abuses.

@nilanjanaroy me too! It was good times. I’m hoping we can get back there, at least a little bit, some day. Things like #mastodon, #indieweb, and the #fediverse in general seem like steps in the right direction (along with #quitfacebook and #quittwitter)
@thegibson @nilanjanaroy we created IMDb. We created things, together, and no one told us we couldn’t, or that they owned the thing.

@dgold @thegibson @nilanjanaroy Well, it's interesting you bring #IMDB as an example, because that's a project indeed that was brought from the ground up by a community but it quickly got owned. Literally.

@nilanjanaroy Agree...yes, have lived through those times. Though everything has its pros and cons. This forum itself is a resistant pushback to all that had got corrupted with the web, isn't it?

@Sadiqkazi It is, and I'm cautiously optimistic about a return to decentralised networks. Though I'm concerned that many on Mastodon don't realise we're being hosted by individuals who put in time, effort and their own cash to keep their servers and instances running.

Getting off corporate-run Internet services also means returning to a community-run model, which depends on volunteers to donate/ moderate/ help out. I hope we can all step up more in the future.

@nilanjanaroy We must do that....and I am sure there will be enough and more who will come forward.

Talking about community run Internet,

there is something called mesh network.

This is to create, we, individuals can connect out wifi devices to each other to form network.

This way, no government, agency, company can control, block our connectivity.

@nilanjanaroy @Sadiqkazi

@nilanjanaroy I miss it so much. And it's not anywhere. I can go to a library and see microfilm copies of publications from 1850 exactly as they were presented at the time, but all I can get from the web of 1999 is some scraped HTML lacking its presentation or layout elements, and erratically gathered at that.

The current web will be even more poorly archived, as most of it exists within large walled off services.

We could have stuck with AOL. We wound up back at big centralized services providing our experiences. The open internet, as a user experience, was a transitional technology.

@bulkington @nilanjanaroy The tilde project is an attempt at recapturing some of that early web vibe of DIY-ness and intimacy. There's no recreating it as it was, of course, but checking my tilde mail in alpine and poking around in Lynx feels cozy in the right way.).

@ItsTheManOnTheMoon @nilanjanaroy I like what neocities is doing too. I just don't have the bandwidth to participate in historical recreation. I wish I could see the things I remember.

@Lofenyy @bulkington @nilanjanaroy Don't forget tripod! 🙂

I interviewed at Geocities in... 1998, I think it was? I didn't get the job, but I did meet the guy who came up with the javascript watermark they used before CSS was a reliable thing. It was a transparent embossed-effect "g" gif, and they injected javascript into every page to always force it to the lower-right corner.

Trivial to do with CSS now, but at the time it was a novel hack.

@ItsTheManOnTheMoon @Lofenyy @nilanjanaroy Xoom had something similar and I figured out how to override it. I was quite proud of that.

@bulkington @Lofenyy @nilanjanaroy yeah, the geocities watermark was definitely "Oh, that's pretty clever" at first but quickly became "boy is that intrusive"

@nilanjanaroy I was born in '96 and what you're describing sounds wonderful. I wish I got to experience that. The closest I got was when youtube was new. I would love to be able to experience the web before youtube, before google even. I consume a lot of cyberpunk, and it's always really weird to realize that a lot of the tech we have now that is normal for anyone to own, especially online, surpasses what was dreamt about in those books and games- yet it doesn't feel rebellious, shadowy, or free

Nice post. Cyberpunk was created earlier and they showed remarkable vision and creativity. I love the genre too.

Google wasn't bad when it started - in fact it was cool, a llt nicer than the existing search engines at the time. Yahoo was always plastered with advertising, and I never liked it.

Google's search page was clean, had good results, and it built up from there. Once they went big, corporate and issued shares into the capital markets, they had a big direction change.

My first network was via local BBS systems, in the early 90's, and now that I joined fedi I find it surprisingly similar to our experience back then.

Small, isolated systems, funded and administrated independently, but still connected, even internationally, via the FidoNet network and dial up lines.

I was a node in the net once, and had people calling my system from overseas with a file request when I announced it was available.

We used different software, all of them were front end compatible.

@Full_marx , check this thread. 😉


@nilanjanaroy The government intrusion was inevitable, especially once the internet could be used for coordinating direct action or protests.
But the rapid monopolization of the physical infrastructure of the internet is far more troubling to me.
And as yet, no one is forced to use Google, Fedbook or Twitter. Good alternatives to all of these companies/services exist, and we should be actively supporting them, as I am trying to do by chatting with all of you nice people. 😁

@nilanjanaroy I remember my first 'web site' on Geocities. Created a weblog - I didn't have internet at home, just had a PC. So I'd carry my entire site (😱😱😱) in a floppy disk (😱😱😱😱😱😱), go to a cyber cafe where I'd pay ₹60 per hour to browse and upload all my HTML files and images to Geocities. Used to do it every week for three years till Blogspot and Rediff blogs came along.

@wabbster Such nostalgia! Floppy disks were precious: the only storehouses we had, and they'd corrupt so rapidly. And long conversations on the eye-hurting blue of Telnet screens.

I remember Altavista and Lycosmail (and Hotmail) so well, and stumbling across this little online bookstore that seemed quite interesting.

@nilanjanaroy So cool! I used to spend so much time on IRC, making up new personas in so many different servers. 🤣

@nilanjanaroy Oh I'm reasonably sure it was far safer than now! I too was on it when we dialed into BBSes there wasn't any internet as we know it today, for the public.

Your thoughts had a cyber wreck with my thoughts moments ago.

I do remember how the Internet has gone from decentralized to corporate dominance and now once again back to decentralization.

As of now (limited knowledge) I believe the only way you can experience decentralized freedom is if you have control over the Server (Instance.) This gives your instance Admin total control over what goes on your Server.

@Nikaroo Yes, but as ever, we'll probably see a phase of enclaves and colonies, if you like, that are relatively free of govt/ corporate control.

Decentralization might thrive and take the Net in unexpected directions over the next five-ten years, but there tends to be a historical swing back and forth between freedom, and formal control. That will keep going.

Thanks very much for your thoughts, and agree.

@nilanjanaroy Same here. At some point however it still was corporate, with dialup ISPs charging a fortune per minute for slow 56k lines. And it was quite a bubble too, because it kept all but just a few people out due to the costs and skills required to be on there. We shouldn't forget about that as well, to be fair.

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