The web is imploding
Reddit's API changes have left a lot of subreddits in the dark, the long-term users in fury and have broken Google search. Elon's mood swings have reduced Twitter to a joke and the site feels like a standup comedian trying hard to make a joke but is unable to read the crowd. There's Mastodon and whatever that's happening there and the Twitter killer backed by Jack Dorsey, Blue Sky, that at the current moment is inhabited by queer sex workers and a particular shade of sad loneliness that only people on the internet can bask under. Twitter's implosion was a long expected outcome since Musk took charge last year after burning through $44 billion.
Though the fears of a billionaire controlling vast swathes of data became problematic, his purchase came with the tomfoolery last given by Trump as the President of the United States, in yet another demonstration that billionaires are not the infallible behemoths they portray themselves to be. Musk has lost face multiple times over the months making one nonsensical decision after the other and in the process losing a good chunk of his productive work force, while having an influx of Right Wingers and general advertiser exodus. With the unpopular rebranding of Twitter to X, even long-term loyal users are pissed at the changes which have come too fast without a warning.
This year has seen the biggest shift on the internet in a while, most services are becoming walled gardens with a log-in or app usage essential to have any kind of usability. The high interest rates dictated by the US Feds mean that the cheap money that propelled the internet in the past decade dried up and companies are now anxious in monetizing the users, creating silos of information that can only accessed through payment or logging in. Elsewhere, Google search has become a ghost land with advertisements and SEO fluff making a majority of search results, where one has to trawl to find relevant information. With ChatGPT and other LLM's poised to mine free user content to propel their learning models, companies are ever more cautious in letting their precious information out for free.
With a burgeoning influx of new internet users from across the world, whose primary interface to the internet is through social media, creating content for on the internet no longer means open for all but for an algorithmically selected audience, the polarization of the last decade is only set to increase. The old media juggernauts are now replaced by the new media juggernauts, run by people whose vanity is out in the open for everyone to see (the proposed Zuck vs. Musk MMA fight is the cherry on the top).
What is the way forward? One way to think to circumvent the walled gardens is to run personal websites run on one's own dime, giving a granular control on how the data can be accessed while moving away from the advertiser based model of the current internet. Here, away from the shackles from a platform (whose biggest USP is discoverability) one is free to post and maintain content without the fear of censorship or the vitriol that spreads when an idea goes against the thoughts of the mainstream. The other is to post content on social media platforms while still having backups on personal sites for interested users to navigate without privacy invading data being collected. The future of the web should be rooted in a personal ownership of one's data, one where a mega-zillionaire doesn't swoop to dig a massive X making a long history of posting irrelevant.