The early web was much more fun. Let’s return to it.

Today’s internet is efficient and full of utility. We spend most of our time reading articles, communicating, and buying stuff. In the background, many of our things connect to it, and they control and keep us informed about the spaces where we live.

The early internet didn’t have as much utility and commercial interest, but it was fun, creative, and exciting. Back then, people surfed the web in the truest sense of the word because it was the best way to discover new content. Unlike today’s web, where sites do everything they can to keep you from leaving their properties, the early web was a hyperlinking adventure. You had no idea where you would end up each time you got online.

Elements of the early web still exist today, but you have to look for them. Social platforms, such as Reddit and Mastodon, provide a good starting place. Subreddits are where I frequently discover new apps and open source projects, and Mastodon is where I often find off-the-beaten-path blogs and projects that lead to even more content discoveries.

The part of the web that I’m talking about isn’t the fringe, conspiracy embracing, and perhaps disturbing aspect of the internet. It’s where the thinkers and artists thrive and create things simply because they want to share them with whoever might be interested.

Anil Dash described this part of the web perfectly in a recent tweet:

You can still just make the internet. You can still just make a website of whatever you want, for just the people you care about. It’s a good way to spend your time on here.

Anil Dash via Twitter

You know when you’ve reached this section of the web because it sucks you in. Every click is a discovery, and each discovery leads you to even more discoveries.

Elliott Cost is a perfect example of a maker that reminds me of the early web. Starting an online journey at elliott.computer will cause you to lose several hours from your day, but you will experience something unique.

Visiting Elliott’s special.fish site will dump you into a sea of minimalist user profiles that are full of interesting quotes, ideas, and links. I have lost countless hours to that site and made extraordinary online discoveries.

Special Fish Social Network
Special Fish minimalist social network

Back on Elliott’s primary site, if you were to scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a badge that states, “this website was made with hands.” Clicking on the badge – another carryover from the early web – will take you to gossipsweb.net. Gossip’s Web, like Special Fish, will introduce you to a part of the web that you haven’t seen before.

Footer of Elliott Cost website
The footer of Elliott Cost’s primary site has a “made with hands” badge

Elliott’s online contributions represent the web I miss. It’s the web that I want to experience more of, and it’s the web I want to contribute to. It’s also one of the main reasons I liberally link to other sites in my articles on Coywolf Pro, News, and Reviews.

Creativity and linking to other sites are what originally made the web fun and interesting. Let’s get back to doing more of that.


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