Blogs

Why would I start a blog in 2022? The short answer is that I have recently enjoyed reading blog posts, and I thought it could be fun to write some too. I don’t have a good long answer, so I am just going to write some random, loosely related thoughts in this post.

A history of the Web, starting from somewhere in the middle

Once upon a time, the World Wide Web was a place where people could freely share infomation in the form of hypertext. Now it is a sort of universal application framework, largely run by advertising companies. In the last few months I have been reading, watching videos and thinking about this change. I feel a sort of nostalgia for “the good old days” of the Internet, although I did not experience most of them in person.

My first encounter with the Internet was in the early 2000’s. My parents were trying to set up a dial-up connection at home, and they told me very clearly that I should not touch the phone for the following few minutes. Why would a 7-8 year old want to use phone, if not because his parents explicitly told him not to? So of course I picked it up and put it back down multiple times, listening with curiosity to what many people my age and older remember as “the Internet sound”. My parents spent a lot of time troubleshooting that day. I only have a couple of memories of that dial-up connection - I was of course not allowed to use it alone! I remember downloading a couple of pictures from the official Pok√©mon website, which we later printed and hung somewhere. I also remember trying to send an email to my dad, and my mom being clearly stressed about me typing slowly and wasting minutes of dial-up time.

I really started using the Internet around 2006 or 2007. It was the time of forums. I liked forums, because you could talk about specific topics with people with common interests, and also browse old threads and learn without intereacting directly with people.

Then social media arrived, and at first I liked those too. I made a Facebook account in late 2009, and found it a convenient way to communicate with my friends and classmates. Nowadays my Facebook feed seems more like a collection of posts by people or pages I don’t know that some old friend commented on, and I think this is why I have basically stopped posting there.

Anyways, later came smartphones - I got my first one in 2012 - and “apps”. This used to be just a fancy word for “smartphone program”, but apps quickly became the new way of accessing the Internet. Apps, and WebApps, now are the Internet, and have been so for the last 10 years or so. We now work on documents on the cloud, have video calls and share social media posts via apps - or browsers - that need at least modern, but preferably modern and powerful, hardware to run on, but are at the same time totally dependent on some huge server or data center somewhere else in the world. Of course, these services are run by the few huge companies that can afford to develop and mantain such a system.

So what now?

I think it is cool that one can do all these things with the web. It is also nice that the modern Internet is very accessible: anyone can sign up to any social media platform they like and start sharing whatever they like, with little to no barrier of entry.

But I think that we don’t need all of this all the time. We should not need an expensive modern device running a 30 million lines of code to get some basic information from the web. If people could put together a couple of lines of HTML in the 90’s, we can still do it today.

It would be nice to keep the “old Internet” alive. Small websites with interesting information on whatever the owner decides to talk about, no accounts, no subscriptions, no fancy endlessly-scrollable home pages making your PC fan spin like your house is on fire. The kind of websites that you can read and even create on a 13 year old netbook - like I am doing now!

“This is cool, I would like to do it too but…”

This blog

I have a few ideas on what to blog about. Mainly open source software and related things. I don’t think I’ll write much about personal stuff. In any case I will keep posting at a very irregular pace - don’t expect regular new “content”!

I think I’ll keep writing in English - it is not my first language, but writing in my mother tongue would immediately exclude 99% of possible readers. And for the technical stuff I want to talk about it does not make a big difference anyway.