In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet was made up of many small websites. Many people had their own personal website where they posted things they did, or commented on things they liked, or wrote about what they thought or felt. All that was accompanied by a unique, colorful and overloaded design, that, despite it can be considered quite old-fashioned for today standards and even hurtful for your eyes, I think they had charm and personality.
Many of those sites had also small communities, which could be in the form of forums or IRC chats. If you wanted to participate somewhere, you had to create an account in it. And if you wanted to join another community, you also had to have an account there. There was nothing centralized. Everyone hosted and maintained their own community, and it was 100% in the hands of that person or persons.
Until social media appeared.
The Internet has changed a lot since then. Social media offered the advantage that they work as a huge, global community, where if you post something, anyone in the world can see it and give their opinion. You can make yourself heard more easily than ever before. But that also had some big disadvantages, because the big companies that develop these social media platforms have gained control of too many things. Virtually everything, all information, all opinions, all content, is in the hands of large multi-billion dollar corporations. That sounds like the plot of a cyberpunk movie, but it is nothing less than reality. And those companies can do whatever they want with that content and its users. They can monetize it, include advertising, hide or highlight content through mysterious algorithms, and so on. Not to mention the capitalistic and addictive spiral that it entails for many people. Those who make content will want it to stand out, even if they have to resort to clickbait or lie and manipulate, all for likes and retweets. Whereas those who just read content, need to have the dopamine flowing endlessly by scrolling and watching content that never ends. This results in a lot of fake and shallow content. From the moment your intention is to monetize or get external approval, you are much more likely to resort to saying what people want to hear, instead of what you really think.
Lately I’ve been having this idea of going back to the old style, to having a traditional web or blog where I can show and comment things. That is one of the reasons why I have revived this website. But I have also discovered someone called Eric Murphy who makes videos on Youtube that has decided to do the same, to have a personal website and encourage people to make their own, and also show where to find them. Thanks to his website I have learned that there are communities of people who also miss that genuine era of personal websites, along with sites called Webrings that are basically directories of traditional websites. Sites that normally are very difficult to find in search engines, but can be found through these Webrings or by having them linked in other sites, generating a network of websites that are linked together and that allow you to discover more people that talk about similar topics that may interest you. Just like in the old days.
I think that forums have been and still are the best way to form a community. Probably the most similar thing that we have nowadays is Discord, but it’s difficult and slow to find old messages, and the day the company disappears… it’s scary just to think about the massive amount of information that will vanish forever.
By the way, do you remember Geocities? There were so many personal websites hosted there that offered such a variety of content, and unfortunately it ceased to exist in 2009 (in Japan in 2019). Well, there is a spiritual successor called Neocities that allows you to have your own website for free. And a lot of people have decided to do it in full 90’s mode, both in design and content, which I think is great!
And this whole thing, besides that I find it more genuine and honest because people write what they think without being under the pressure of likes, it also has a nostalgic feel for me. I like the idea of being part of that movement, if we can call it that. And I am perfectly aware of the reality. Not many people are going to read this website, I’m not going to get likes and retweets as immediate feedback that gives instant gratification, and I’m not going to receive any kind of economic compensation, but I don’t care. Is it necessary that everything nowadays provides short term rewards? I just like the idea of having my little personal corner where I can show what I do and express myself, and if someone comes across this website and finds what I do interesting, then obviously I think that would be great and I’ll be glad to have been able to contribute something useful or valuable.
Writing is not something I’m very good at and I’m not very eloquent, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s not something I like to do very much, so normally I’ve always had websites that are more about showing what I do than communicating what I think. But I’ve decided to try to express myself a little more about things that cross my mind or experiences that I find interesting to tell. So let’s see how it goes. I hope it’s not one of those things that I end up leaving abandoned due to lack of motivation. I know myself.