Why do people put so much energy into publishing such good content in such bad places? Why bury your analysis of Russian tyre maintenance in a Twitter thread? Why can I only find somewhat essential information about my mechanical keyboard by finding the right Discord server and scrolling up however much is required, wading upstream in five simultaneous conversations?
People complain and wonder about such things, often combined with nostalgia for the web of Christmases past, where people put their well-formed thoughts on their own web sites, with proper links to other places and with RSS feeds available for those who wanted to aggregate their favourite sources themselves.
I can catch myself doing this, but my real question is why we complain or feel averse to all this.
Maintaining your own site is work. And, it usually costs money too, if you want to live that open, distributed web hipster life. I pay about a hundred Euros per year to some strange hosting company for the pleasure of hosting this website and my email. And yes, there are millions of other options. Better, closer, more modern, cheaper, and generally more hipster-approved.
But you know what? Switching from something which has been working predictably for something like twenty years(!) is also work.
For example, I am tied to a classic computer if I want to actually publish something on my site. I can not do it from a phone or Ipad. Why not? Because that takes work, work I do not feel excited enough about to undertake in my spare time. I prefer to spend that time writing, and publish when I do have access to a classic computer (even though this alone is driving my wish for a new laptop so that I can be less restricted in where I need to be to post).
The amount of work I have chosen to take on happens to suit my general values and knowledge of technology. I too enjoy thoughtful longer texts which can be easily found and linked, and think we would be better off with more of that rather than floods of short opinions. But why would people in general want to put the time and effort I do into setting up their own websites?
That makes no sense at all, not when you can type into a box and have your thoughts join the same streams as everyone else you know and follow right away. No configuration, no payments.
"Yes, but …" all the thought leaders go, bursting into pitches about a more open, free, and distributed web. Pitches, all of which require so much more effort from everyone involved.
We should be happy so many people are putting their thoughts out there in any form. Someone is always building a simpler way for everyone to publish on top of the latest shiny. But can you ever make that simpler and cheaper than the free services already out there? If you managed to build it, would there be any notable improvement for the general user?
It probably sounds like I am feeling down on the state of the world in general, but somewhat to my own surprise that is not the case. Many people are thinking along these lines, and I feel like exciting things can come out of it.
Plus, it is somehow fun to be down on people being down on other people for using the big services of the day.