Web Manifesto

September 30, 2022
A rotating floppy disk.

I was born in 2000. I missed the height of the ‘wild west’ internet – and in some ways, that was a good thing. The only traumatic experience I had with the web was a horror flash game that I accidentally played, and that scared me enough to be more careful. In some ways like that, having a cleaner web is nice; it’s easy to find and keep in contact with friends, it’s easier to babyproof things, and easier to find big communities.

Unfortunately, that comes with corporate baggage. Babyproofing websites takes away freedom. Hyper-connectivity is a hotbed for stealing our personal information. And despite technology becoming more widespread, many people don’t know how phones or computers work, because it’s in corporations’ best interests to make computers black boxes. That way, we’re entirely dependent on them to fix our stuff when it breaks. The centralised web is part of this – we’re dependent on facebook, on twitter, on discord. You are, I am too. So instead of completely rejecting the web as it is today, I think a better approach is to explore having some more control for yourself.

Neocities is my favourite example of this! So many people, myself included, now have personal websites. This teaches HTML and CSS literacy. It encourages researching on your own, and learning skills like file optimisation. Neocities reopens the black box of websites for people who may not have any idea what HTML is, and that’s a really good thing.

I think in the end stepping away from mass social media is a deeply personal thing. For me, I still have a twitter and a discord. I don’t use forums because I just don’t like the time delay. Instead of some sweeping gesture about how we should reject our corporate overlords, I encourage you all to do some easy, simple things:

  • Make sure your family, especially younger siblings, understand web privacy. Encourage them to use websites like Scratch or Neocities to learn about how the internet and coding works.
  • Spend some time off social media today. :) After writing this manifesto, I plan to have a cup of tea and read a book about Hieronymus Bosch. Our time is precious, and that’s what corporations prey on.
  • Reflect on your social media presence. Does it make you happy? Do you like the people you follow? If you do, that’s awesome! If you don’t, maybe unfollow some people and see if it makes you happier.

At the end of the day, us individuals on Neocities have very little impact on a large scale. On a small, personal scale, however, we can have positive impacts. By educating yourself, your family and your friends about data harvesting, internet privacy, and how to do simple computer activities (ex. Essential console commands, torrenting, enabling safe mode on computers), you are making yourself a little more free, and contributing to a future where the internet is a little more like old times.