The web started off as an adventure - now it is more of a chore.

June 1, 2024 (13d ago)

Back in 1995, you would discover a new and completely different website practically every week - put out by some crazy individual trying things out for the first time. Everything was raw and experimental and truly original.

Comapred to that, the web of today is truly boring.

It is efficient, it is vital to my life, and helps me get things done at a scale that I could not have imagined even a decade ago.

But it is boring.

More and more, individual web pages are replaced by accounts on the three or four big social media platforms, and whenever you go online, you’re more likely to end end up on one of a handful of websites - from social media to e-commerce to news and so on. The web has settled in, it has matured.

It’s Walmart vs the corner grocer all over again.

Today, if you want to be noticed on the web, the logical thing to do is not to start a new webpage, but to setup shop on Facebook, or TikTok, or Instagram, or some similar behemoth. Then it is a matter of SEO and advertising. In other words, it is now like any other offline endeavor. You want to setup shop in a well visited market or mall, you will need to set up ads and signboards and if you want to grow fast, it will require oodles of money.

Obviously, this was bound to happen, the early web was a novelty, an adventure, and an adrenaline rush - but it could never really stay that way. Once it was proven to be a viable and robust medium of distribution, it became like any other medium of distribution where scale and efficiency generally win in the end.

Today opening a browser seems more and more of a chore. You connect to the web to pay your bills, to buy stuff, to try and slog thru hundreds of videos on huge steaming platforms to decide what to wacth, to compulsively check your social media feed for the 10th time in a day in case you missed something.

I admire the efficiency of the modern web. I appreciate the robustness of the laws of economics which inevitably apply to the online world as well. But I do miss the adventures of early days.