An illustration of a sand castle succumbing to the elements


Read Nothing Fails Like Success by Jeffrey Zeldman

On an individual and small collective basis, the IndieWeb already works. But does an IndieWeb approach scale to the general public? If it doesn’t scale yet, can we, who envision and design and build, create a new generation of tools that will help give birth to a flourishing, independent web? One that is as accessible to ordinary internet users as Twitter and Facebook and Instagram?

#Let’sFixThis To tell the truth, I don’t have an answer to the questions raised by Jeffrey Zeldman in Nothing Fails Like Success, but as someone who participates in the IndieWeb, and who has seen nothing but benefit from it, both personally and professionally, I have to hope that we can fix what we’ve broken. Not only that, I think we have to fix it, both because this is the only web we have, and because, really, we’re the ones who convinced the general public to use things like Twitter and Facebook and the like. We turned them onto these things, it wasn’t just marketers. I’m not suggesting that any of us should succumb to paralyzing guilt over any of this, and that includes Zuckerberg. For one thing, it’s a whole lot easier to see what’s wrong in the rear-view mirror than it is through the windshield, and for another, paralyzing built would prevent us from doing the fixing. We need to be clear-eyed when it comes to what we’re fixing, and in my opinion there’s a hell of a lot of things that need fixing.

If we have any hope of repair, I think we as designers and developers need to start with ourselves and our industry. We need to get our act together and start behaving like we’re a profession, and we need to discontinue the pervasive practice of rewarding all the wrong things. Those are just for starters, and they’re large undertakings in themselves. And once we get our own house in order, we’ll need to spend some time doing some seriously hard work convincing the genereal public that the content we convinced them to start putting in the hands of the big social media networks is in fact valuable enough to own and control. Next comes making it easier to own and control. Despite every word of criticism I’ve leveled against WordPress’s new editor, I believe Matt Mullenweg is on the right track, at least as far as the concept goes, because I believe the new editor will make it easier for the average, non-technical person to own and control their content, and at the end of the day, average non-technical people are the majority, not designers and developers.

I have to hope we can accomplish all these tasks. Otherewise, the only thing left is to burn everything to the ground. I hate to think we might be at that point. I’m still optimistic about the web, about its openness and independence, about it’s fundamental accessibility, and I’m optimistic about fixing it and making it easier for everyone to participate in the web. To that end, I hope to have at least a small part in fixing it.


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