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The Yesterweb

The Yesterweb


·December 5, 2021


> We wish to forge a new path forward, one [...] of user-owned and operated pages [...]. Find us on Discord.

SURELY there is something better out there, if your goal is to stop propping up proprietary monoliths?


I've made some sketches for a distributed indieweb discussion system a bit like your old fashioned forum, but got too much on my plate right now to implement it in any way that gives it justice.

I do think the idea has merit though. I have some thoughts on a way to do this that is resistant to both spam and censorship.


You could start with a self-hosted alternative, though, no?


It seems their goal is to create more creative sites than to get rid of existing sites. Discord has a lot to offer and it allows users to customize it too.


You're not wrong but what else is there? In 1994/5 IRC was awesome. In 2021, IRC sorta kinda sucks.

They have to start somewhere...



And the difference to Discord is what?




Matrix is for group chats where Discord is for communities. Discord allows you to easily spin up the equivalent of an IRC / Matrix server with a few clicks. Discord is optimized towards the idea of decentralized ownership where each community has their own server as opposed to just a chat room which is often the case with IRC or Matrix.


I've not used matrix. Can you create a url to your matrix group for others to easily join, and without spinning anything up on AWS?


Yeah, IRC shows it's age, but it's easy to get connected and talking, no phone number verification or required account creation, or other byzantine verification process.


Zulip ?


Point of implementation:

This page reacts poorly to changes in the user-agent’s default font sizes, because it defines the size of blocks like “The Yesterweb” in pixels, but fills it with contents in an unknown font family and size so that its contents are liable to overflow messily (that is, in the “CSS is awesome” meme way). Things are made more complex by the use of the magic monospace, so that the font size inside the body element is not scaled according to the number that’s almost certainly 16px (1.2 [for html] × 1.2 [for body] × 16px = 23.04px), but rather according to the number that’s probably 13px (1.2 × 1.2 × 13px = 18.72px). I long ago changed my monospace font size to 16px, so I get overflow.

I wonder whether browser makers would be open to the idea of removing the monospace font size thing. Shrinking the font-size to 81.25% is just a bad idea in general in almost all monospace fonts used now (… and it was never a particularly good idea in the first place). These days, almost no one hits it because it’s rare to use just `font-family: monospace` (instead it’ll normally be a foolishly complex list of options that mostly just makes things worse these days, except in Firefox on Windows pending, and when people do hit it they normally get confused if they’re not familiar with it and almost always want to work around it.

But bringing it back to a more useful discussion point: this is a good demonstration of a problem that used to occur regularly, but is now exceedingly rare. The concept of responsive design and especially mobile devices helped make this happen.


I really dislike this rose-tinted view of the past. Things in the 70s weren't great. Everyone stank because of all the polyester, and asbestos was still a thing. People say the cars looked good back then. Sure, but they were desperately unsafe.

Similarly, we might look back fondly at marquee tags, but my god early websites were an ugly affront to readability. I hated the spastic myspace pages. I really disliked Verdana and Times New Roman. We've got better fonts now, sharper, more colour-accurate displays. Fuck the early 90s. Make something cool that's modern! Technology allows us to create nice things. We can make something small, minimalistic, creative and self hosted, without such cheap attempts at nostalgia.


> the cars ... were desperately unsafe

The core matter is, one dreams that putting - on the contrary - security holes in cars for extremely petty reasons, just like making them overly complex systems difficult to repair (as opposed to the explicit paradigm of, say, Dante Giacosa "You will have to be able to repair them with plain small drugstore equipment"), would have been considered unthinkable and unacceptable by non-ancient fathers "untainted by perversion".

> make something cool that's modern

Make something well done, polished following sensible considerations, "untainted by perversion".

> Things in the 70s weren't great

For lack of technology. "Things" today are plainly dystopic - for excess of technology and lack of senses.


It was fun to browse the first zine, big thanks to the creators. This article in particular really resonated--there's just something about the personality of the home page.


Neocities has some Yesterweb Gems:


I really enjoy browsing neocities. It definitely brings back many vibes of the old web. It's really easy to discover stuff since you can select if your website goes in to the directory. Art and music are the most popular tags and I feel like this is a good sign. Also, people have started forming old school webrings.


Unless you want to break your phone browser (FF on iOS), do not click the ‘maybe you should make your own website’ gif at the bottom. No idea what it’s doing, but my browser immediately locks up as soon as the page loads.


FF on Android was fine.


The Yesterweb is the equivalent of the 80's — Greatest decade in terms of creativity. Be it music, movies, gaming or fashion. But I wouldn't wanna go back in time.


Well, the visual results are perplexing, but the html code is clean - and some of us do appreciate that.

(With its companion side: transmitted page size, 12.4Kb .)

As opposed to the typical severely bloated and unpolished pages that are served nowadays (text color defined and overridden a dozen times in the CSS etc).


I don't find this very interesting, but some movement where there is a browser, search engine and 'start page'/webring all with only sites/content that's not primarily there to make money seems good. Can be made / look like the modern web but cannot be commercial-first, have ads (or at least not javascript tracked ads), have javascript traffic checking etc. Not sure how to moderate that type of thing but it would be nice.


The combination of nostalgia for the early days of the Web combined with increasing distrust of the mega-tech companies combined with the pendulum swinging back to decentralized systems from centralized systems (the pendulum constantly swings back and forth) is the current zeitgeist of the moment. The problem is that the money markets (VC, private equity, crypto-hordes) simultaneously reject and passively support this decentralized approach meaning that the only way to get real traction for an Old School Style Decentralized Internet is to do it outside of the current realm of venture-backed entrepreneurship.

These financial markets support decentralization in that it serves to create new markets of opportunity not subservient to current market leaders, but at the same time reject decentralization in ways that would limit the ability for those new networks to monetize in the ways that would provide incentives for the investors and founders. Since decentralization favors the individual over an authority of any type, it's very difficult to gain support for decentralization from within current markets.

I really hope that we rethink the VC and public market-based underpinnings of our current tech echosystem. Many of the problems of what we're experiencing today with the steady decay of open and good quality Internet systems as well as the erosion of distrust in authority can really be traced to the way that money (and fortunes) are generated today. Walled gardens. Captive audiences. Standards balkanization. A shift from pay-to-own to rental subscription models. Locking down the ability for individuals to service their own systems in order to coerce continued vendor purchasing. All of these trends favor centralization, single-vendor ownership, and the behavior of market leaders to acquire and entrench their competition and thereby restrict choice.

I don't want to get too macro, but it's possible even many of the ills of modern day capitalism can be traced to financial markets that motivate bad behavior. But I'll keep it on subject and say that the Internet of the past was the Internet of the past not only because of decentralized technology but because of personal, non-financial interest motivations and technophile centric development that pursued the "what if" instead of the "what's in it for me".

I agree these are rose-tinted glasses, but it can be argued that the Internet would not have developed as it has today if it wasn't for the tech-centric naivete of the early Web innovators.