The web we have to save

The Web We Have to Save is an important and thoughtful article by Hossein Derakhshan, who was jailed for blogging in 2008. He’s free now, and sad about what the web has become. I’m sad about this, too.

Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. I was not equipped to play on this new turf — all my investment and effort had burned up. I was devastated. [continue]

I was on the web for years before blogs existed. Were you? In those days, you needed to know things about HTML in order to publish anything on the web. (The original version of mirabilis.ca was hand-coded, you know: HTML, typed by hand, with no blogging software in sight.)

When blogging platforms like Movable Type and then WordPress appeared, suddenly it was easy for all kinds of people to start blogs of their own and write what they pleased. And they did!

I loved the bloggy world of those days, and I miss it. Now so many people use Facebook and Twitter instead of blogging, and I think that’s sad. Why put your content on a commercial network that views you as the product? Why give your content to some entity that does not respect your privacy, and does not give you full control over your own stuff? The answer is usually “convenience” or “because everybody else does” or some such. I understand this, but I mourn for the days when everybody wanted to blog, instead of post to Facebook. I loved the decentralized, quirky, independent feel of the blogosphere.

And that is, in part, why I’m here, blogging. I will not give my content to some commercial entity, no matter who else does. You’ll not find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or what-have-you.

What about you? Do you value independent voices on the web? Independent sites, like blogs? Do you have a blog of your own? Or do you, too, let some commercial company host your social interactions?

And what do you think of Hossein’s article?

2 thoughts on “The web we have to save

  1. Thank you for Hossein’s article – very disturbing though not surprising. I started blogging in 2004, loving it and other bloggers I met. I too was sad when so many wrote less over time and have even stopped, lured by the social media. I was never attracted over there but somehow I don’t blog as often now, missing those interactions we used to have. I’m glad you decided to come back!

    • Thanks, Marja-Leena.

      I’m glad you’re still blogging. FWIW, I subsribe to your RSS feed and read everything you post! I’ll try to make a point of commenting now and again so you know that what you’re posting matters to me. I love the details you notice.

      I do miss the posts of some blogs that used to be favourites, but have now fallen silent. The move towards commercialized social media is depressing.

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