the small internet

or, face whomst?

the internet sucks and we all know it and we all know why. corporations have hijacked public spaces, not just in physical space, but online. we have less ownership of our digital selves than we've ever had. the internet is bigger and more ubiquitous than ever, but we are more disconnected from each other because of it.

consider: what if we built a small internet again.

before there was social media, people staked out their own spaces online and connected with other people who were also staking out their own spaces. personal web sites, blogs, IRC, bulletin board systems, mailing lists: these were all ways of connecting with each other in ways that meant real people could talk to real people as real people, not as a demographic for advertising. it was never perfect and nobody would ever claim it was, but it was better than it is now, because corporations hadn't taken over how we connect with each other.

we can build that again. we don't have to replace social media, and probably couldn't if we wanted to, short of dismantling corporations and the structures that built and support them (a worthy goal in and of itself). but we also don't have to be beholden to organizations whose only motive is more and more and more profit. we can make our own spaces and come together to support community spaces online, whose only motive for existing is to be community spaces.

below are some links for building a small internet.

the tildeverse

the tildeverse is a loosely-associated group of public access unix systems colloquially known as "tildes", after the "~" symbol that indicates someone has their own web space on a shared server (e.g., offsite link. most are modeled after offsite link, which went online in 2014. Paul Ford, the sysadmin, explains its origins in this article offsite link.

other public access unix systems

gemini and gopherspace

  • gopher offsite link preceded the world wide web, is still in use today, offsite link, and from what I hear is growing in popularity. many of the tildeverse sites offer gopher hosting.
  • gemini offsite link is a new internet protocol that is heavier than gopher and lighter than the web. many of the tildeverse sites offer gemini hosting.

virtual communities

  • nightfall city offsite link, a virtual "city" that lets you interact with people through a blog feed, either through Web or Gemini protocols