I remember the days, in the early 2000s, when many of the blogs that populated the Technorati Top 100 — a then-highly-regarded blog popularity ranking — were made up of independent, single author blogs, many of which focused on tech or politics. But starting sometime around 2008, many who would have otherwise started their own blogs found it more convenient to write for sites with already-established audiences (like Huffington Post) or were hired by actual mainstream news organizations. Millions more found the sharing and publishing capabilities of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to be more than adequate and so didn’t bother with the arduous task of maintaining their own blogs. Though there are still lots of independent bloggers today, the web has lost a good portion of its decentralized nature as users congregated onto platforms owned by massive corporations that had ultimate control over the kind of content published and could determine anything you wrote to suddenly be in violation of their terms of service and promptly delete it (Anil Dash famously catalogued this movement in The Web We Lost).
Dan Gillmor, writing for Slate, profiles a growing movement of techies who are trying to re-decentralize the web, building open source tools that, while compatible with social media platforms, return much of the power back to the user:
Amber Case, one of the Indie Web creators, was drawn to the idea because the Internet had become “a claustrophobic space where all I could do was consume, with barriers to building and owning.” She saw a new generation of Web users who’d never registered a domain name and weren’t even aware of what was possible.
That happened, in part, because “Twitter and Facebook showed an easier path to creating online,” says Aaron Pareki, another Indie Web organizer. “The original vision was everyone has their own space and made things. Then the silos formed and attracted people because it was easier.”