Observations of the shrinking internet universe.
We would like to talk to you about the internet in general. Something which can be observed by simply looking at the address bar within your browser. The single most important tool of your browser as it tells you exactly where you are. Simply looking at where we are is when we can run the hypothesis as to where we are going. Our hypothesis may be a little bleak for some. If you are looking for happy news you may want to stop reading now. For everyone else then you may continue onward into the abyss.
Y2k internet otherwise known as the “Dot.Com bubble'” started around 1997 and finally crashed at around 2002. During this point, American businesses became aware of the internet that it can be used for more than just looking up information for books or special DIY projects. But in fact, it can be used as a form of viable commerce. It was at this time that tech companies were popping out of nothing with humans investing in these companies in the hopes of getting the ground floor on something revolutionary. There were, of course, winners and losers during this time frame. The Y2K dot com explosion was also the result of injecting millions of people onto the net with the means of dial-up modems and for those who could afford it broadband. Although many tech companies lost entire fortunes. The remaining companies which were getting people online such as ISPs (Internet Service Providers) continued to grow.
This is probably the point where the internet universe underwent the “Big Bang” as it were. spawning thousands of new servers equaling as stars in a giant super-galaxy.
Some blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks which caused businesses to attempt to re-evaluate their portfolios and how they invested looking forward to a future of terrorism and government control. We’re not sure if 9/11 really played that major of a role in bursting the dot com bubble as we feel it was already in progress right after the 2000 New Year! To us, it came right down to the fact that people stopped for a moment to seriously analyze the companies they were investing in. After finding out there was no profit to really be made. The investors bailed quickly leaving these toxic accounts in the dust.
The information technology field also oversold itself to businesses during this time. Anyone who can smash on a keyboard got a well-paying job during this time. Only to find out much later after these people received their degrees and college education that the jobs were transitory. Paid well for a few years and then moved overseas to people that would gladly work for below minimum wage.
Destruction of Ma-Bell.
The tyrannical grip where ma-bell was threatening lawsuit action to anyone attempting to subvert the per-minute charge of long-distance calling. This even included VoIP over dial-up modems. In the 1980s, Bell communications and AT&T were shattered by the US government due to holding a monopoly on the telecom industry. This allowed smaller companies to take over the grids and offer competitive services on the way we talk to people throughout our network. With the introduction of voice-over IP, the concept of long-distance became a thing of the past. Terms such as ‘unlimited’ become commonplace for American commerce. No longer having to look over your shoulder worrying if you’re going to get socked $5-20-200 dollars for talking too much.
This is important to talk about because without this break-up the internet providing services in America would’ve been reduced to an anemic state where people would literally be paying for internet time BY THE MINUTE! So to that end, you have to thank our government for upholding the founding laws on abolishing a business monopoly.
Fast forward to the now.
The introduction of ‘Bandwidth capping’ where they allocate a few hundred gigs to your account is a sign of the old Ma Bell reforming itself back together to take control over something they never should have. Go over and pay the price! Out of greed to get as much from an elderly telecom and fiber grid system as they can while slowly recessing the word “unlimited” from the sales vocabulary or implementing fine print on the word stating that you will get unlimited, it’s just you will be shuttled back to 1990’s dial-up speeds after a certain amount of time. These actions reduce the American internet service down to the 36th fastest internet in the world. Letting Americans pay top dollar for barely capable broadband services.
Alright S, what the hell are you trying to get at here?
State of the web.
Now that people are on the internet. They no longer want to be just listeners. They want to be known and in order to be known on the internet, you need a website to call your own. But you see websites were stupidly expensive early in the late ’90s to early 2000s. Some cost $9 a month to have 10 Megs of storage on some boxes overseas. So companies such as ISPs began to offer web-hosting services as well. Servers like Geocities and Angelfire offered completely free web hosting for those people who didn’t want to pay anything. The only thing it cost was a handful of banner ads. Your website will be added to a directory and easily accessible just by typing in their website with a slash and your user name!
Although the dot com crash came and went domains were being bought and sold at a massive scale. With so much demand it justified ICANN to open up more domains exceeding past the traditional networks for .NET .COM .GOV .EDU .MIL and made prefixes for other countries. It got even crazier later on however the point is buying a domain got insanely cheap going from $25/35 us dollars per year to $9/15 us dollars per year depending on if you wanted privacy protection or not. Couple this with moor’s law of technology where storage and CPU power became faster and suddenly hosting a website was not reserved for businesses of the filthy rich. Nor were you cursed to have a website hosting on a friend’s server. Now you can own a domain and web space to truly call your own!
The learning curve of domain web hosting.
This, of course, didn’t come without its drawbacks. In the early 2000’s the concept of a CMS (Content Management Software, like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla) was hyper beta. This resulted in people who wanted a well-designed website resorting to hard coding within a flat-web environment. Spending more time driving through all of the code to make it compliant with emerging search engines than actually writing content for their website.
Too many people going through all of that mess was excessive and confusing. Instead, there were services back then such as LiveJournal, and a few years later MySpace offered users an alternative to designing a website from the ground up. You can focus on your content, invite your friends into the said social networked server, and receive instantaneous feedback on the articles and blogs that you go through on a day-by-day basis. Human beings are creatures of laziness in a good and bad way. We will take the shortest path to get the greatest results.
No website understood this more than Facebook. Instead of simply stating that you could blog on their servers. That Facebook fed upon the human narcissistic tenancies stating that YOU are the star! You are entitled to have a page that the community can ‘like’. Why go anywhere online when you can stay right here? Play some games, and chat with your friends. Give us all of your content! In return, we will feed you ads of products we may think you like! Welcome to cornfields mother fucker! It’s all the same out here!
How it all works.
Social networks have a multi-faceted angle about how they do business with the respect that if they give you the illusion that you are a unique little flower on the net. Along with convincing all of your friends that they too can be unique little flowers. A social network now has a captive audience to which they can exclusively sell to advertisers. With every person that joins their network and inputs data into it. That social network grows and the users within it begin to lose their identity being trapped behind an inclusive community devoid of external internet contact. Unless of course, those visitors want to sign up for a free account and join them.
Once they have your information and everything you input into their system. You have given this network control over almost everything in your life. It is impossible to leave because if you do you shall be ex-communicated from friends, family, co-workers, you name it! There are even businesses within a social network that work exclusively with only people on that network. Shunning any and all outside money.
The true failure of this design is that these people handed their entire existence over to a third-party network. A network that can be compromised, sold, traded, and eventually consumed by something bigger and greater. Making their world feel so very small. That despite that level of wonderful creativity they may have. They will just be tiny dots in the universe of the internet. You could argue the point that this is the failure of owning your own website as well. But it’s much worse than that. Because when you own your own site you can control destiny by changing everything around. You could go from a shop to a blog and back to a shop again. That even if Google attempts to consume you like what happened with AMP. That you have the power to reject what they are trying to do. This is something you cannot do if you handed the keys of your information kingdom to a group of faceless hacks.
Subdomains used to be a cheap alternative to owning a full-tilt domain for other types of websites. It almost all but faded but is now making a comeback for television networks. You see, these networks are feeling the pressure for these giant social network walls and thus wish to build their own wall of shows that constantly provide content in order to make their network relevant again. From an IT standpoint, it’s cheaper to push your TV shows underneath sub-domains instead of having a unique name for them. From the search engine SEO point of view that television show adds relevance to the parent company that owns them. Suddenly you won’t see individuals anymore as much as you will see their names followed by the network that owns their intellectual properties long after they are dead.
The collapsing internet is profitable!
This is where the vultures come out to collect the bones of the dot.com explosion boys and girls!
If you can convince everyone to only visit half a dozen websites. Then it could be served to ask what the point in the rest of the net is. What if there are billions of people all talking and exchanging money back and worth then why even deal with the wastelands of web 1.0?
We demand privacy even though we told the world everything!
Where it gets really confusing is when the government is rolling back an FCC regulation allowing their broadband providers to sell the very information they gave to Google, Twitter, and Facebook for absolutely free! It’s an odd cognitive dissidence where people demand privacy but then give literally everything away on their profile! If you can make only a handful of the net unbelievably valuable. It can be said that you can then have a quasi-monopoly on the information itself. Able to manipulate the masses at well to teach them how they think and how they react.
Where it really hurts.
As the giants of video, media and information become larger and larger. They end up becoming the Wal-Marts of the internet. Why go to a single person’s website when we could just sit on my profile and have all of the data come to me? Who this hurts the most is websites such as my own. But I knew what I was getting into and don’t care if something that we published will sit for months before google picks it up and serves it to someone. It also hurts those that serve independent websites. That if you aren’t a GoDaddy or associated with a giant media conglomeration then the growth of your content is severely crippled.
The monsters of the net.
If there was a category of monster that social networks represent it would have to be the “Living Wall”. Which isn’t anything as cute as the picture above with growth and being eco-friendly. This monster is an entity of extreme magical power that absorbs people into a flesh-like mass with arms and legs. Their information is added to the collective. Along with any threats that attempt to destroy this wall they will stand and defend themselves despite losing their identity to such a creature. It exists only to collect and consume until it can cover the entire planet if possible. When playing a lot of tabletop role-playing games the Living Wall to me was the most terrifying monster because it simply didn’t care. The Sci-Fi equivalent would probably be the Borg. But yeah. Same concept!
These ‘collective’ of people from the giants you see today. Accumulated by the gravity of complacency. Towering giants such as Google and YouTube because remembering website addresses and uploading videos is hard. Facebook and Twitter because one must always stay in touch with people while feeling horribly alone trapped in their rooms or on the road. SoundCloud and Mixcloud to hear the echoes of a creative individual to eventually get exploited with videos and commercials with the musician hardly seeing a dime in some fucked pyramid scheme system created by their own bot-net.
YouTube especially for this to show people how many millions YouTube content creators have made just to be invested into this pyramid scheme where everyone is fighting over the ad-revenue table scraps that Google kicks out to people. Enough money to keep you fed but always perpetually hungry. I think there’s a level in hell that talks about this problem.
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This is where all of the rantings tie themselves together into one nice package boys and girls. Which is the total erosion of owning your data? Why do it? Why spend all of that annoying money on a domain when you could simply host it somewhere for free? Oh sure there will be commercials, but nothing that will harm you! It’s okay! You’re already practically running your business off of Facebook and everyone tells you to get a website. So here it is! Just sign up for a:
Hell, even go for a
And we’ll do all of that nasty dirty IT work for you!
Congratulations! Your identity and uniqueness shall be added to the living wall! Google will acknowledge your existence that you only exist to serve underneath the IT banner of one of these providers. Often times this results in Google totally ignoring you as you’re just a sub-domain of this conglomeration. Resulting in only having to rely on word of mouth crippling your business. I’ve slammed GoDaddy in the past for political reasons. But at least GoDaddy and web-hosting providers, in general, allow you to pay for your own unique identity.
The reason why the living wall exists is that it’s easy. It doesn’t cost anything that comes out of a potential content provider’s wallet. Thus there is no problem with doing business in such a way. Laziness is a hard thing to break. Sites like Facebook more than understand this and cash in on it 100 percent.
Usually whenever we try to tell someone to host their own site for their little business that it falls upon deaf ears. Perhaps it’s all of the crazy rantings that we do. Or the sheer lack of understanding about holding onto your own data. We follow a lot of web hosting providers to see what kind of marketing techniques they can do to break this living wall. So far nothing can really get through to the masses about this.
The first person that can break through to people that doing business on a living wall such as a social network or a cubby-holed sub-domain is going to be the person that will help everyone. Not only the web-hosting industry of the world. But the people who have something that wants to be heard and known. Social networks have their place in the universe of the internet. That place is not at the center of a collapsing star. Centralize your data and take the web back!
That’s what server said.
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5 thoughts on “The collapsing internet”
My problem is peertube, not is in my phone, is my location and my person, but not is but money, live, our life. My problem people have one it all over here.
Not sure what you mean about Peertube. Don’t think we’ve barely mentioned them here. It’s just a CMS like anything else really. Seems a little random to call out an app but okay!
I didn’t know about the expression “bandwidth capping”. I read about it and saw ISPs in the US call “fair usage” or “fair access”. This was quite a convoluted expression.
In case someone reads me after and don’t know either, “bandwidth capping” is the act of limiting usage of internet by amount of data transfer usage.
I agree too that self-hosting is becoming really cheap. Domain names finishing in .co cost me 0.99$. So I bought a couple of domain for each service I serve on my server, like alexcloud.co, videorelay.co, talkwiz.me (xmpp server).
And unless I need to serve something with strong needs in terms of computing capacity, a simple VPS costs me 5 bucks, now 10 bucks because I started multiple services and needed more ram and cpu.
From my point of view the main problem behind our society where people use others website to host something is that in the end we live in a society where consumerism has been pushed at its extreme. People are so passive, consume products company want them to consume and that’s it. Hosting something by yourself on the internet asks you to be proactive, to have something to say, or to leave a state of passivity and consumer-only.
I think this is the whole society which has a problem, not only Facebook, Google or similar companies which in the end just exploits the system we live in.
I used WordPress 10 years ago and will never use it again when I wanted to erase something I wrote and WordPress didn’t allow me to do it. So definitely I would not recommend WordPress unless their policy change in the meantime but likely not.
By the way the 500 words limit you mentioned in an other blog post about Mastodon is apparently just a default value, not something required. I am still new though, so maybe I missed something.
5 years ago I tried to host my own Asterisk server and bought a virtual phone number and lamentably failed when I tried to call in an other country. Too much jitter. After all the censorship I am back in self hosting and it is amazing how much quality software there is now (Jitsi, Peertube, Signal, etc).