Over the past few months I've been having many conversations with people who all have a particular set of skills but whose job titles are all over the place. I believe that we form a more coherent group than we realise, that this novel role exists for a good reason, and that we would benefit from making that known.
Thought experiment: how hard would it be to implement ActivityPub over ATProto? The answer might surprise you!
Trust has been the defining constraint on the Web's evolution towards more powerful, more applicative capabilities. In a Web context, the user must be able to safely load any arbitrary URL, to safely click on any arbitrary link. The way in which this is achieved is that the runtime places strict limits on what a Web page can do, which in turn necessarily limits powerful capabilities. Could we get more power using a primitive that places more stringent constraints in what pages can do?
Browsers are hugely load-bearing in the Web's architecture, and yet they haven't changed very much in quite a while. If the Web is indeed for user agency, we should take a hard look at our user agents to see if they might not need improvement.
We take the Web for granted as that thing that's there and we talk of things being good or bad for the Web, but we don't ever sit down and really say what the Web is for. I take a look at this question with an eye towards understanding what it is we need to do to build a Web that's actually better.
This is the kick-off post in a series in which I'm going to explore things that we could change about the Web. The odds are pretty good that I will be wrong, possibly even very wrong. You're going to dislike some, or perhaps all of it! My point isn't to jump straight into building these ideas — even though I do believe they point in a better direction and are feasible — but rather to break out of the incrementalist rut and stagnant vision that the Web finds itself mired in. It's not in a good place and I feel the need for more vision work and much more thinking about architectural interventions that can bring about radical change.
Search on the web, for most people, has become a deplorable experience. It is such a key function that it can feel unfixable, but by treating search as an architectural component of the web (which it effectively is) and working our way through the issues it creates, we can define an alternative that is both realistic and superior.
The digital sphere appears to be at an inflection point and we need to imagine what comes next as this era rots and burns. Imagining a renewed, decentralised world is difficult, but we can pull it off.
The Internet is allowing us to build a richer, more complex society but the way in which we Internet today is failing to support the governance systems that a more complex world requires. I take a look at why these issues are related, try to develop an intuition for a way forward, and point at the emerging field that is coming together to build that future.